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Millennials will bring value to trucking: Panel

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – It’s no secret the trucking industry is in dire need of millennials. Truck drivers are getting older, and a great portion of them are due to retire soon. Ideally, fleets would love for them to be replaced with young blood, even though millennials have received a bad rap in the media.

They’ve been labelled the lazy generation, and the trophy generation who cry if they go without recognition. But these portrayals are far-fetched, concluded a panel at this year’s Surface Transportation Summit.

The panel included two millennials, Isabelle Hetu of Trucking HR Canada and Victoria Armour of Armour Transportation Systems. The panel also had Wesley Armour of Armour Transportation Systems, a veteran trucking executive.

Hetu said that there are a number of misconceptions out there about millennials that are simply not true.

“There is a misconception that millennials are really different from previous generations before them,” she said. “Yet Trucking HR Canada released a report (called Millennials have Drive)…and it found that millennials actually want very similar things to other generations before them, which is respect, and career opportunities, and work-life balance.”

Another big misconception is that millennials want to change the workplace all together, Hetu said.

“And while this may be the case for one millennial in particular, I don’t think it’s fair to generalize the whole generation this way,” she said. “So I think every effort should be made to fill the vacancies (in trucking) with millennials.”

Victoria Armour agreed saying that the millennials aren’t lazy because they don’t want to stay in the office for eight hours, rather they quantify their work by output, not by hours put in.

“Millennials measure their performance on output…whereas older generations measure that on time in the office,” she said. “If your shift is 9-5, older generations would stay and work that shift. But if you’re a millennial and you’re done all your work at 3, you don’t want to stay there for 2 hours. However, in the same breath if you have a lot of work, millennials will work until 7-8 at night to get it done.”

Wesley Armour, who took over the business from his father at a young age, agreed with his fellow panelists saying that he believed the hype about 18-35 year olds being lazy, however, since employing them, he has changed his mind.

“At one time I thought yes they were lazy, but now I don’t,” he said. “They’re people who want challenges and want to work hard. At Armour, 25% of our employees are millennials.”

The panelists all agreed that employing millennials into your fleet actually benefits your business in many ways.

Victoria Armour stated that millennials shine when it comes to technology, a skill the trucking industry which are generally an older bunch could desperately use.

“I think every generation is different than the one before them,” she said. “One thing that comes to mind for me that really strikes me as be different is technology. We are the generation that grew up with technology and we are the first to enter the workforce that has been exposed to technology at such a young age. And with that comes different views of the world and different views of the workplace.”

Hetu said that millennials will also bring innovation and ideas to the workplace.

“And that provides a learning opportunity and teaching opportunities for a more mature workforce,” she said. “So yes, they can bring technological skills and they can also learn from the older generation about soft skills, and together you can create a cohesive work space.”

And if you shut down these ideas, warned Victoria, it’s a possible recipe to lose the generation for good.

“One thing about millennials, is that we’re thinking of new ways to do things,” she said. “And all millennials’ ideas aren’t going to be great…but if you just shut those ideas down, they’re going to be frustrated and you won’t be able to retain them.”

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