Trucks at Work

Exodus in waiting

This survey indicates every company's greatest asset, its human capital, might be its most tenuous, as employers could see an unprecedented exodus of talent when the job market rebounds.” – Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer at Adecco Group North America

Now, the recent worker survey by the human resource specialist company Adecco Group North America is very broad, cutting across many U.S. industries, but I think trucking managers can glean a lot from it just the same.

Adecco’s finding that 54% of U.S. workers aspire to leave their current jobs when the ongoing global recession finally ends offers, I think, both a challenge and an opportunity for trucking. On the one hand, it’s a clear warning that fleets need to refocus on their employees in this rough patch – from drivers and maintenance techs on up to dispatchers and office personnel – to keep as many good people on board as possible.

On the other, Adecco’s “American Workplace Insights” survey indicates that folks likely to look for new jobs, once the economy turns around, might offer an opportunity to put trucking on their list. [For the record, Adecco defined “employed adults” in its survey as U.S. adults ages 18 and over that are employed full time and/or part time.]

Drilling down into the numbers, Adecco’s survey also revealed some other interesting tidbits, especially about younger workers:

Goodbye, Generation Y: The youngest age group of working professionals indicates they plan to be knocking on the doors of their competitors with (71%) of employed adults between the ages of 18 and 29 saying they are at least somewhat likely to look for new jobs once the upturn begins.

Generation Y on money: Only (9%) (less than 1 in 10) of Generation Y employed adults are willing to accept a pay cut to keep their jobs compared to about 1 in 5 from other generations [Baby Boomers (22%), Generation X (22%) or Silent (15%)].

“These findings should be an eye-opener for employers who are so focused on cost containment that they are losing focus on retention,” noted Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer of Adecco Group North America. “In good times companies focus on how to keep their best and brightest talent and this becomes more important in bad times. Younger Generation Y employees bring a lot of new ideas and skills to the table, they are a generation who likes to be challenged, and if they lose this at their current job are not afraid to seek it elsewhere.”

Adecco – being a human resource specialist firm, of course – has some tips companies can take to help retain top talent. Some might not apply to trucking, but for any smart, forward-thinking manager, they provide “good grist for the mill,” as the saying goes:

Focus on mentorship: Research has found mentors and mentees feel more connected and loyal to their organization than employees not involved in mentor programs. The investment of time in mentorship will deliver strong results in employee engagement. A formal program is not needed; simply taking steps to make sure leadership is connecting one-on-one with workers with high potential will prove beneficial.

Highlight small, but important, wins: Take time to recognize your company's good news. Highlight successes in collaboration, business wins and innovation. Increasing communication in times of uncertainty is important overall and increasing communication of small victories will go far in improving employee morale.

Support career development: Many star employees switch jobs because they feel they have “outgrown” their position. Companies should encourage top-performing junior employees and middle managers by providing opportunities to share their knowledge via training sessions, presentations, mentoring and team assignments. When employees feel their career development and unique skills are desired and respected in their workplace, they are more likely to stick around.

Consider providing flexible work opportunities: Providing your employees with flexible work arrangements such as the ability to work from home one day or work consolidated four-day workdays can increase productivity and reduce absenteeism, and can result in cost savings to the company.

Some things to consider, as an exodus of workers when the good times reappear could offer either worry or a window of opportunity for trucking managers.