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HR Panel: Trucking Needs a Millennial Strategy

If you think that filling your workforce with Millennials is going to be a challenging, if not problematic task, then perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror, says George Arrants, director of training and recruitment for the WheelTime Network.

“We created this generation and we expect them to understand the way we think,” he said. “What we need to do is understand the way they think,” he told attendees at a panel session during the 2016 Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) annual meeting.

As reported by Fleet Owner, Arrants explained that business owners and HR managers need to change the way they recruit, manage, and retain their workforces if it hopes to secure human resources in the future. And that goes double for trucking – and industry that has inherit challenges in attracting people as it is.

He said the oft-derided Millennial generation is by and large are not driven by the amount of money they make. Instead, they need to feel they have a stake in the company.

“They are actually very productive; tell them what needs to be done and they’ll do it,” he added. “They don’t have a problem with the rules; largely it’s enforcement of the rules. For example, the consequences of breaking the rules must be equally applied or their simply done with them.”

Yet Arrants also stresses there is a vast disconnect in the “life skills” Millennials were taught in school versus the needs of the workplace.

“In today’s educational model, absences and tardiness are acceptable. In my work world, you are absent two times, you are fired,” he said. “You have to be at work on time every day. If you are not there or late 10% of the time, that’s 10% of work not getting done. So if they can’t show up on time, we can’t use them. That’s why I say to employers, don’t look at [a candidate’s] GPA [grade point average] but look at their attendance record. We can’t do anything unless they know how to work.”

That being said, other aspects of the Millennial generation could provide recruitment opportunities for the freight industry, if they are tapped in the right way, argues.

In a separate conference hosted by Stifel Financial Corp, Erik Malin, formerly with consulting firm Carrier Direct, cited a recent survey that said 64% Millennials would rather make $40,000 a year at job love than $100,000 a year at a job they feel is boring.

“In essence that means they’ll pay you $60,000 for an interesting job and one they feel offers value,” Malin explained. “They don’t want a boss; they want guidance, not direction. But most importantly, they want the opportunity for personal growth, which comes with an emphasis on better work-life balance.”

Other generational stats:

  • Some 56% of millennials will not work at a company that bans social media access.
  • Over 65% of millennials value opportunity for personal growth as a primary factor in selecting employment.
  • Only 21% of millennials view starting salary as a major factor in selecting an employer.

John Larkin, managing director and head of transportation capital markets research for Stifel, noted how the trucking industry continues to struggle to fill seats, despite significant jumps in driver pay over the last two years.

“Just in the last year or so, trucking companies have taken driver pay up 10% to 20% to try and close this gap. What they’re finding is that it’s still not having much of an impact on reducing the so-called driver shortage,” he said.

“Even though our economy is growing at a relatively slow clip, what we’re finding is that some of the Millennials have a little different set of priorities in terms of what they want to be doing with their 24 hours each day,” Larkin stressed. “Sleeping in the sleeper part of a Class 8 tractor is probably not high on their list; showering at a truck stop is probably not high on their list either.”

It’s why Larkin believes pay is not as big of an issue that some would think. Trucking companies paying $70,000 to $80,000 per year still find themselves struggling to locate “good, drug-free people” who are willing to operate according to the rules.

Yet, the industry must continue to figure out new ways to reach them, said. Malin. “With 75% of the workforce to consist of Millennials by 2025, the bottom line is we have to adapt to them because they will be the majority,” he said.

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