Comment: Attracting the next-generation workforce

By: Carol McGeady, NZ Trucking Association

With the next-generation workforce entering the transport industry, NZ Trucking Associations shares handy tips on how to attract and retain them in your business

Most people are busy in their own lives and don’t reach out to share ideas or ask opinions. If it takes a village to raise a child, how many people are needed to run a transport company? Compliance, technology, and employment are all aspects that take you away from doing what you love.

Programmes such as the New Zealand Certificate in Commercial Road Transport assist new heavy vehicle drivers to upskill beyond those required to be a licence holder

Often, people who don’t own a business are critical of business on many levels. The daily challenges are real for business owners, and even when the business grows, it becomes more challenging. You kind of get caught up in a whirlpool and quite often you can’t get out.

Transport companies are going to be different in 10 years’ times when the new younger generation come into the transport industry. How will you survive? They don’t want to work 70 hours and they want to be home on a weekend. That’s a generalisation but mostly true. Work attitudes will be different, so can you adapt? If anyone was being honest, they would tell you some are entitled. 

Our generation has done that. We have created them. So, it’s time to adapt your business so you can survive until you retire. You must open your mind and have an enormous amount of patience but once you connect with them and understand how they think, you will find your business will shape itself into becoming a sustainable profitable one. 

The next generation will bring new ideas and you need to listen to those because those ideas will appeal to your future customers. One thing is for sure—they won’t do it your way if it’s labour-intensive. They want the latest and newest of equipment and technology.

As the driver shortage deepens, the new generation will start to pick and choose, so start thinking now how you can attract them to work for your business. Sometimes, it’s the little things that appeal, such as clean facilities and nice uniforms.

Ideas for attracting the new younger generation

Cam Maxwell is an example of younger operators succeeding  in the industry

I am shocked at how some companies spend no money on their restrooms. Not only are they quite often filthy but they also haven’t seen a paint brush for years. It’s an easy fix. Employ a cleaner to come in and keep it well stocked. I recently visited a school restroom and on the bench was a collection of perfume, hairspray, and hand creams with a note saying, "you’re worth it". A good-quality uniform that fits your employees properly is also a plus.

What about supplying a work vehicle? It doesn’t have to be new; it could be a second-hand ute or small car. This is hugely attractive for a young person and the cost to you is minimal in the scheme of it.

You don’t have to provide fuel, but you could provide fuel as a reward for a good health and safety record. Building up a fleet of vehicles, nicely branded up, can be a good look for your company. You now have a double use for the vehicle; it’s a billboard for your company and your staff will value the job because it comes with a vehicle. A car is hard to give up, so the staff will stay longer.

Join in with positive activities that are changing the image of the industry, such as driving competitions, truck shows, and anything that promotes professionalism. Your staff needs to feel proud to work for you.

You want to get to a position where you have drivers on your waiting list. They want to work with you because of your culture and that’s what it’s all about—creating a culture in your business that attracts young people.

Introduce regular rewards such as grocery vouchers. I get so much feedback from drivers who receive them. Their partners love getting them, and it can make a huge difference to a weekly pay packet if they receive a $100 voucher.

Do a quarterly team building fun activity. Gone are the days of just providing a crate of beer. Young people like activities, such as bowling, hiking, running, or whatever your team enjoys; it’s a great way to keep them happy.

Have a draw each month or a raffle. The proceeds could go to a charity, but the prize is won by one of your staff members. That could include chrome, cleaning products, subscription to a trucking magazine, or anything that appeals to them. At NZ Trucking Association, we know that associations will look different in 10 years’ time. The younger generation will have to understand a value proposition as to why to join.

We are constantly reviewing what it means to be a member and what benefit it is for a young person. They won’t have the same loyalty as the previous generations have, so they will change to suit themselves.

Communication, which is a big part of the association’s activities, will be totally different. Emails will be a thing of the past. Unless it’s an app and accessed by one finger, they won’t look it up. We can track this already with our hits on the website.

So we are busy evolving because we are planning to be here in the future. That’s why we host events and plan activities—to attract young people to learn about us and to help improve the image of the industry.

Current major activities include Trucking Industry Summit, Transport Hub at the Careers Expo, Brisbane Trucking Tour (16 to 19 May), and TMC Trailers Trucking Industry Show (20 to 21 March 2020).

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