The recession made surviving companies smarter about several things. BR (Before Recession) companies would measure job satisfaction - the premise being: If you make drivers happy, they won't quit.
During the recession, job satisfaction went way down; so did quitting.
What does this have to do with safety? Read on.
We learned that job satisfaction was a poor indicator of turnover. Sometimes happy drivers quit jobs. Sometimes unhappy drivers do not quit. I recently interviewed a driver who has hated his job and his employer for 14 years.
Instead, the accurate predictor of retention is the driver's level of engagement. This is the degree to which the driver identifies who he is as a person by what he does and for whom he works for a living. It is how well she enjoys her job, is proud to be associated with the company and trusts that the company has her interests in mind.
Who are your best and most profitable drivers? Who is willing to go an extra mile? Who has a great on-time performance record? Who keeps their equipment in the best condition? Again, odds are they are the most engaged.
Now, who do you think are your safest drivers?
Actively engaged drivers give more than 100%. They think about their job on the way to work. They wake up with fresh ideas. They speak well of their company to friends and other drivers. They boost morale of their co-workers.
And none of this is in their job description.
We all know it is getting tougher to recruit and retain the high performers. Companies are raising pay and enhancing benefits. These are great short-term Band-Aids, but what will separate the highest performing companies from the rest as we move forward with new regulations, a skilled worker shortage, and potential predatory practices by competitors?
If you had a highly engaged workforce, what would your safety record look like? What would your performance record look like? How frequently would your equipment be in the shop because someone did not care about your truck? How many accidents would occur because of apathy and carelessness?
Drivers who are "present" and actively engaged are alert and a good safety risk.
Rim Yurkus is president and CEO for employment consulting firm Strategic Programs Inc.
2/9/2012 Driver Recruiting and Retention: It's All About Respect
Orientation Tips Part of Recruiting/Retention Conference