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On purpose-driven work and trucking

Sept. 8, 2016
There’s no doubt you’ve heard in some shape or fashion about the book The Purpose-Driven Life, which to date has sold over 40 million copies and is touted as a touchstone by a wide range of folks, such as Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

There’s no doubt you’ve heard in some shape or fashion about the book The Purpose-Driven Life, which to date has sold over 40 million copies and is touted as a touchstone by a wide range of folks, such as Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

Now, I’m not about to delve into Christian philosophy and life principles here, but this notion of being “purpose-driven” is not something unique to self-improvement books.

Indeed, the desire to be “purpose-driven” in the workplace is growing as well – perhaps trucking should take note of this, especially as it’s a form of “work motivation” that could pay big dividends in terms of productivity and safety.

This develops from a recent survey that actually found “being more motivated at work by a sense of purpose” is actually more prevalent among members of the Baby Boom generation (46%) and Generation X (32%) compared to their younger Millennial counterparts (24%).

Such “purpose-driven” focus also needs to be placed into the larger context of just how radically today’s workforce is changing, as according to the Staples Business Advantage 2016 Workplace Index, for the first time, employers are faced with managing five generations in the workplace – Generation Z (under 18 years old), Generation Y or Millennials (18 to 33 years old), Generation X (34to 50 years old), and Baby Boomers (51 to 70 years old) – even in some cases with members of the so-called “Greatest Generation” (over 70 years old) mixed in there as well.

Each age group is inspired and motivated by different things, so it’s critical for employers to avoid stereotypes and understand what their employees are looking for within their particular workplaces, noted Neil Ringel, executive vice president for Staples Business Advantage-North America.

“The second annual index uncovers different challenges companies need to consider when managing the growing multi-generational workplace,” he explained. “To attract and retain top talent, organizations must be aware of what each generation uniquely needs to be happy and productive.”

[There’s another reference to “happiness” yet again in terms of work. Does it apply to trucking?]

As a result of this index – which polled 3,105 employees in the U.S., with 936 classified as general officer workers and 1,059 as business decision makers, and Canada, with 468 general office workers and 642 decision makers by Morar Consulting back in March – Ringel believes it is particularly important for employers to be much more “in tune” with workers’ needs.

That’s because as the three most prevalent generations in the workplace today – Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers – all feel overworked and burned out, according to survey results.

Some 50% of Millennials, 47 percent of Gen X, and 35 percent of Boomers say burnout is motivating them to look for another job, the report noted, with Boomers in particular looking for employers to decrease their workload and provide more time to complete tasks, while Gen X and Millennials are al
igned in looking for more flexible schedules and work-life “blend” or balance.

While Boomers are most motivated by having a sense of purpose at work, followed by salary, Gen X and Millennials both rank salary as their top motivator, Staples noted in its study. Up next for Gen X was a sense of purpose, while Millennials listed passion as number two.

The ability to work from home is crucial for Millennials, as they’re most inspired to work in the comforts of their home. However, Millennials are outliers in this aspect, as Gen X and Boomers prefer a traditional workplace and are most inspired at their desk in the office.

[How does that translate into better recruiting and retention tactics for trucking? That’s a good question.]

Then there’s the health and wellness angle, as 70% of Millennials, 62% of Gen X, and 51% of Baby Boomers say the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job.

In a wellness program, Boomers are first looking for “ergonomic furniture” and supplies, followed by fresh food and an on-site gym. Gen X and Millennials prioritize fresh foods, then on-site gyms and fitness tracking wearable devices.

[Interestingly, though, other studies report a mixed bag when it comes to actually using said health and wellness offerings – if they can find them.]

About 80% of each generation polled agreed that taking a break makes them feel more productive throughout the day. [Related tidbit: time off for truck drivers is seen as a big productivity booster, too.]  

“It’s promising that all generations said they think working in a five generation workplace is more fun, creative, inspiring, trusting, and fosters an environment of learning,” commented Jacob Morgan, author of The Future of Work, and co-founder of the Future of Work Community, in this study.

“Managing five generations poses a challenge for employers, and as Gen Z continues to enter the workplace in larger numbers, it’s critical for organizations to ensure they understand their workforce’s needs,” he said.

Something trucking should keep in mind as well.

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