Let’s take control of the HR narrative

by Angela Splinter

The trucking and logistics industry continues to face some serious human resources (HR) challenges.

Workforce shortages, new technologies, and a competitive job market are top-of-mind issues. From Moncton to Kelowna, fleets are struggling to find the drivers they need. Some report having goods stranded until a driver can be located.

Companies are investing in higher wages, advertising, and recruitment campaigns. Yet we know that fewer and fewer Canadians are choosing trucking and logistics as a career. Fewer than 15% of drivers are between the ages of 18 and 35, and a mere 3% are women.

At the same time, e-commerce and innovative warehousing and distribution processes are creating new opportunities in the trucking and logistics industry.

Opportunities we need to seize.

There is a lot at stake here, and we need to start looking at more comprehensive and sustainable solutions from an HR perspective. As you develop strategies for managing your own workforce, here are some ideas that should influence your thinking:

Jobs may change, not disappear
New technologies will absolutely impact the nature of work in our industry. However, at this point, we are not sure how. It could be that traditional occupations morph into new ones – in a more automated supply chain, drivers may become “transportation engineers” and dispatchers “logistical analysts.” Companies will need to adapt as operations evolve.

And, when we read stories about how technology will change our industry, others seem to be controlling the narrative.

For example, autonomous trucks are being tested in live environments – and they make headlines every time. In 2016, our own federal minister of finance, Bill Morneau, was quoted as saying that the truck driver job will disappear in the years to come. Other research shows that many Canadians believe that autonomous trucks will soon be rolling down our highways.

We need to take control of this narrative, and we need to better identify how these roles can change.

It’s hard to attract and recruit people to a job they think will be obsolete in a few years.

Create a work-life balance people actually want
Our youth research shows that work-life balance matters – often as much as compensation. It’s clear that increasing compensation will not be enough to attract the workers we need.

We need to take a good hard look at the nature of a job that has drivers away from home and family for weeks at a time. How can we address aspects that can be seen as unhealthy, including making sure drivers get proper rest, food, exercise, and time at home?

How we can offer a work environment and lifestyle that people actually want?

More informed decisions
To better attract and recruit the talent we need, we need to better understand the current and future labor market in the first place. Change is happening quickly, and we need to ensure that we have the information to make sound HR decisions.

Our new labor market information initiative will help us do just that. Trucking HR Canada will probe further as to how the workforce of the future perceives our industry so that we can take the steps necessary to ensure we better connect with them. At the same time, we will assess the current business and economic climate as it pertains to changing work environments.

Amidst the challenges, this is an exciting time. And, we will be reaching out to industry stakeholders over the next few months for input.

We may not find all the solutions, but we are starting to pave the way.


Angela Splinter leads Trucking HR Canada, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing the human resources challenges and opportunities in the trucking and logistics sector. Learn more at www.TruckingHR.com or follow them @TruckingHR.

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