Trucks at Work

If you think recruiting and retention are hard now …

I’ve noted before in this space that even as trucks undergo all sorts of technological evolutions, they still require humans to operate and maintain them. Thus if you can’t hire and keep enough truck drivers and technicians, your fleet of trucks is pretty much just going to sit there.

(Though the ongoing push to bring self-driving trucks to our roadways may one day change that math, that day is still far in the future.)

That’s one reason I spent a lot of time in this space ruminating on the “human factor” side of this industry, looking at broader workforce trends in order to see what kind of light might shed upon efforts to get more folks to become – and remain – truck drivers and technicians.

(As an aside: the human heart of trucking in my opinion never gets appreciated enough.)

The latest data trove in that vein is a survey professional staffing firm Addison Group hired Survey Monkey to conduct with 1,496 working Americans born between 1946 and 1995; basically a “multi-generational cohort” made of Baby Boomers, Generation X’ers and Millennials.

Again, while this is a “broad-spectrum” labor survey, it does offer insights into what job characteristics are important – and not so important – to U.S. workers today. Here are some of the major findings:

  • Regardless of generation, healthcare is the most important job benefit at 70%, followed (unsurprisingly) by high salary at 59%.
  • Vacation packages also ranked highly (46%) followed by equity packages (19%). Surprisingly, childcare support ranked lowest at only 11% overall.
  • That said, when it comes to which perks would sway respondents decision to work at one company versus another offering higher pay, for Millennials, it’s all about the free meals, beverages and snacks (40%) and tuition reimbursement (36%).
  • Millennials also ranked having a dog-friendly office (14%) higher than a napping room, concierge services and a play room complete with ping pong, billiards and video games. (Since many motor carriers allow drivers to bring pets with them on the road, does that 14% factoid qualify as a recruitment opportunity?)
  • Unsurprisingly, Millennials value the social aspect of work, with nearly twice as many (15%) marking work-sponsored happy hours as important compared to Baby Boomers (8%).

Here’s an interesting mix of trends: what are the most and least important characteristics of an “ideal company”? And before you pooh-pooh these data points, consider this: Thomas Moran, Addison's CEO, noted in this survey that they “are highlighted as a means of recruitment and retention.”

Let’s start with the least important traits first:

  • Is a socially responsible company (29%)
  • Is a well-known company (26%)
  • Is transparent about revenue or human resource (HR) decisions (25%)
  • Invests in passions or interests outside of work (15%)

Now, here are the most important traits, the ones respondents said are the “intangibles” for creating a desirable workplace:

  • Good work-life balance (62%)
  • Flexible work hours (54%)
  • Experienced leadership (45%)
  • Making employees feel they have control over their career growth (43%)
  • Clear direction on what employees need to do to earn a promotion (39%)

OK, well and good. Here’s the thing though: a lot of workers in Addison’s 2015 survey also noted they are not only less enthused about the work-life balance and schedule flexibility being demonstrated by companies today, they take a dim view of leadership roles as well.

Here are some findings in that vein to chew on:

  • Only 47% workers surveyed said they were “satisfied” with work-life balance this year, down from 55% in Addison’s 2014 poll;
  • Additionally, when identifying what respondents were most satisfied with at work right now, only 20% of respondents cite satisfaction their company’s overall performance, only 22% are satisfied with their company’s culture and values, and only 17% are satisfied with their path for growth within their company;
  • Only 33% of the workers polled believe that being a manager has the potential to advance their career;
  • On top of that, only 25% of workers note that learning how to be a better manager is a priority, with 17% noting that they do not enjoy managing others.
  • Nearly a quarter the workers in this poll said they prefer to work by themselves and rarely interact with their manager.

Here’s an interesting twist, though: contrary to the broader workforce findings, Millennials maintain a more positive view of professional leadership roles, with nearly one-in-five claiming they would consider leaving a company that didn’t provide an opportunity to be a manager.

On top of that, Millennials also recognize the value of a good manager with nearly 30% acknowledging that having a manager is important to his or her professional growth, according to Addison’s findings.

When it comes to management styles, though, the three generations value different managerial traits. Here are some examples from the firm’s survey:

  • Only 28% of Millennials find it important for a manager to make time for them compared with 36% of Gen X’ers and 41% of Boomers.
  • On top of that, though, only 45% of Millennials consider their ideal manager to be trusting, an 11% decrease from last year’s survey, whereas 55% of Boomers feel managers should be trusting.
  • Boomers also value honest feedback more heavily at 67%, compared to Gen X (54%) and Millennials (56%).

Working in trucking is, of course, is VERY different than most of the “white-collar” professions most of the folks surveyed above are undoubtedly in. Still, they provide some interesting insight into some of what’s making jobs attractive – or not – in America today.

And with that, I wish you a very happy New Year. I’ll “see” you again in 2016!

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