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Why drivers leave

BANFF, Alta. - Despite the current slowdown, the trucking industry remains plagued with a driver shortage, a situation that is not expected to improve any time soon according to a speaker at the Alber...


BANFF, Alta. – Despite the current slowdown, the trucking industry remains plagued with a driver shortage, a situation that is not expected to improve any time soon according to a speaker at the Alberta Motor Transport Association’s annual convention.

“Employee retention is the number one challenge,” said Rael Kalley, a consultant with Strategic Pathways.

Part of Strategic Pathway’s method of solving the problem is to analyze employment surveys and learn why employees are resigning.

Kalley noted that driver turnover is the single greatest cost to the trucking industry, and estimates that it may cost a fleet operator as much as $12,500 per employee.

“Many companies do not realize the true cost of replacing one employee,” said the human resources consultant, who added that in many cases it’s a “needless expense.”

Strategic Pathways takes advantage of various employment surveys to ascertain the reasons why people resign.

The research team has discovered that the decision to jump ship is rarely about financial need, which is often considered to be the main reason.

“It’s an absolute myth,” he said. “It just isn’t so.”

Another myth is about loyalty. Workplace abuse was the primary reason for leaving – not a lack of loyalty, according to Kalley’s research. “It has to be earned and maintained,” he said.

The HR consultant stated that employee values have changed from decades ago, when frequent career changes were frowned upon.

Today, greater employee movement is now considered to be “growth-oriented,” rather than an indication of an unstable career path.

Strategic Pathways conducts hundreds of interviews every month, and Kalley’s research team analyzed 10 recent interviews that were done just before the Banff seminar to document the reasons that survey subjects were giving for their recent resignations.

“We have what we call ‘departure diagnosis,'” said Kalley. “We find why, and what caused people to leave.”

Of those 10, four people stated that the primary reason was “poor treatment by supervisors, or someone in management.” Many of these complaints listed abuse, such as: bullying, being yelled at, sworn at, discounted, or insulted, said the HR specialist.

“How can we afford to lose people, simply by the way we talk to them?” he asked.

Two of the people that were analyzed for this small survey indicated their reason for quitting was due to a lack of appreciation. The last two expressed that they were “burned out” due to staff shortages as well as excess overtime – again, without appreciation.

“All they ask for in return is for somebody to say ‘Thank you’,” said Kalley, who noted that these former employees weren’t opposed to hard work, but felt that they were not being recognized for their extra efforts.

Of the remaining two of the 10 interview subjects: one person resigned to start a business, and another resigned because of a spouse that was moving to another city.

Consequently, out of this small analysis, and countless others, Kalley believes the main reason for leaving a company is related to the culture of the company.

“People don’t leave companies,” said Kalley. “They leave relationships.”

The HR specialist also spoke about another indicator that leads to dissatisfaction in the workplace: feedback, or lack thereof.

“People want feedback about how they are doing,” he said. “People tell us, day after day after day: ‘There is no feedback.’ They didn’t know if they are doing well or doing poorly.”

Further, employment analysis researched by Strategic Pathways indicates that dissatisfied employees complained that approval is rarely shown if the business is running smoothly.

But once something goes wrong, supervisors are quick to lay blame. Often, such a transgression is addressed by a management inquiry, according to Kalley. This reaction is what he refers to as “seagull management,” which “flies in,” reprimands staff, “then flies away.”

Kalley encouraged the fleet operators to consider those who may be responsible when an employee resigns, and to consider who might be responsible for a poor working relationship.

“When somebody leaves a company, people whom they report to bear some responsibility for that,” he said.

The consultant indicated that employment referrals strengthen the employment pool, but a lack of word-of-mouth approval may be an indication that human resources may be the company’s downfall – another costly problem, according to Kalley, that detracts from retention. “Retention is not a program,” he said. “It’s a culture.”


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