Trucks at Work
amack-driver-cab Photo: Mack Trucks

Shared values in the workplace … and in the truck cab

Making drivers a valued part of your trucking team will be ever more critical going forward.

So I’ve been picking around a new survey compiled by MetLife called Role of the Company that’s based on interviews with over 1,000 part- and full-time U.S. employees, aged 21 and over.

It’s the kind of survey that aim’s to crawl inside the minds of today’s workers and determine what matters to them the most – pay (obviously), work/life balance (a growing must), and the concept of “shared values” between workplace and worker. That is, the values espoused by employees are reflected and championed by the company they work for.

And if they don’t, they may not be working there for long

“As work and life continue to blend together, employees are bringing their personal values into the office and want companies not only to recognize those values, but share them and take action,” noted Jon Richter, vice president of corporate citizenship for MetLife, in the survey.

Fully nine out of 10 employees (89%) say they are willing to trade some of their salary to work at a company whose values match their own, MetLife found in its poll – a great deal of their salaries in some cases.

On average, the firm’s survey founder U.S. workers on average were willing to take a 21% pay cut to work for a company with values aligned to theirs.

The importance of aligned values was strongest for Millennials, who say they are willing to take the largest pay cut – 34% on average – to work for a company that shares their values, MetLife said.

While Millennials are typically viewed as the most “idealistic generation” in the workforce today, Gen X and Baby Boomers weren’t too far behind: Gen Xers say they are willing to take an 18% pay cut and Baby Boomers, 15%, to share values with the company where they work.

This willingness to trade off salary for aligned values is not reserved for higher income levels, MetLife noted, but is consistent across all income brackets: on average, those making less than $50,000, between $50,000 and $100,000, and over $100,000 would take a 22%, 21%, and 19% cut, respectively, to achieve such “value alignment,” Richter noted.

“People across all generations in the workplace today want companies to play a stronger role in aligning personal purpose with company actions,” he said. “Companies that want to succeed in today’s marketplace must rise to meet this challenge.”

OK, so are truck drivers all “gung ho” to start sacrificing pay in order to achieve “value alignment” with the motor carriers they work for? Hardly.

But I do believe there’s an element to this “shared value” discussion trucking needs to pay attention to – and it’s focused on making truck drivers valued members of a motor carrier’s team.

“Shippers think of us as a commodity, or think of the industry really as a commodity. One of the things that we've not done well traditionally as an industry, is think of our driver as a team member, as opposed to a unit number or a commodity ourselves,” explained David Carruth, CEO of LTL carrier ONE for freight, in a recent “virtual roundtable” hosted by Omnitracs this week.

“To retain a driver, they really want to feel like they're part of a team, as opposed to just their unit number. And with us, when we talk about our drivers, their opinion matters – it's vital to our success,” he said.

“So when we're [spec’ing] new equipment, when we're buying new equipment, we have our drivers involved in the purchase process. We ask them, ‘What trailers do you want to pull? How do you want it set up? What sort of safety features do you want it?’” Carruth noted. “And just as long as we make the driver feel like they're a part of a team – a part of our culture – it goes to the retention of that driver.”

Tom Cuthbertson, vice president of regulatory and compliance for Omnitracs, chimed in with a few very pertinent thoughts of his own on this subject.

“Drivers always want, you know, make sure the revenue's there,” he said, meaning that they’ve got enough money coming in so they can “make their payments” when it comes to paying the bills.

“But that team thing, when we stack rank things, comes up pretty heavy in that discussion point about not feeling like they're an appendage,” he stressed. “They want to feel like they're part of a team; like people are listening to them. Once in a while, a phone call helps. Those are the kind of things that drivers want to stick around for, and why they feel a part of the team, and that's a big thing in a retention process.”

ONE for freight’s Carruth stressed another reason why making drivers an integral part of a trucking company’s team is vital – one often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the just-in-time delivery world we live in.

“A lot of times the driver themselves is really the only human interaction that potentially a shipper could have with a transportation company,” he said. “And if that interaction isn't positive, that's the last thing that the client or the shipper sees and remembers about our industry.”

And that’s certainly a “value” trucking wants to be as positive as possible.

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