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14 from mentors, and regular performance reviews, all of which been important, but it is taking on a new focus as competi- have been found to reduce turnover of new hires. In addition, tion to find and retain top-quality employees intensifies. increased pay and benchmarking pay rates against other driv- TCRP Report 77 concluded that while increased attention ing jobs reduce costs in the long run by reducing training and has been paid to recruiting qualified transit workers, little managing of new hires (36). attention has been given to retaining employees. None of the First Group, an international transportation firm based in 13 case studies of best practice organizations had a specific the United Kingdom, has worked to increase retention of strategy for retaining employees in difficult-to-recruit and transit operators with the implementation of a mentoring -retain positions. Each employed practices that have been and coaching element as part of its retention strategy. The helpful in this regard, but specific attention to retention was company experienced a reduction in turnover of 9% over a lacking (27). 2-year period. Under this scenario, each new operator is Financial compensation is still a primary consideration for assigned a "buddy" to mentor and coach them informally in most workers. However, they also want opportunities to the first two weeks on the job. Operators are then given an pursue their own interests and personal growth. Employer Assessor who coaches and assesses them for approximately contributions to workers' quality of life and job satisfaction 6 months and until they achieve a designated level of com- often include flex-time as well as a greater commitment to petency as an operator (36). innovative approaches to recognize and reward their work- Similar retention approaches have been in place at a num- ers. Organizations that excel in these areas are seeing a posi- ber of U.S. transit agencies for some time. The following two tive difference in productivity gains and in retaining quality examples are cited in TCRP Report 77: people (20). TCRP Report 124 notes that some transit providers have At Citifare in Reno, Nevada, mentors are selected from increased compensation for demand response vehicle opera- among veteran operators who have good records and show tors to make it more in line with fixed-route operator com- potential for teaching others what they know. Through pensation. It also notes that some systems have taken steps in an extended mentor training program, potential mentors the procurement of services to ensure more stable vehicle develop skills in how to support new operators in each operator workforces--such as specifying minimum levels of aspect of their jobs. pay or requiring that, if there is a change in service providers, At Duluth Transit Authority in Duluth, Minnesota, the qualified vehicle operators be retained. (7) mentoring program, in which each new employee is assigned a veteran operator as a mentor, serves as a bridge for new Workforce Planning: A Tool for Facilitating operators into the agency culture and work environment. Vehicle Operator Availability The mentor helps the new operator acclimate to the agency, and serves as a source of information about operational poli- The increasing number of baby boom retirements is cies and procedures, schedules, vehicles, and agency events. expected to have a dramatic effect on the transportation indus- The mentor also provides a safe resource for questions and try. Planning for and developing a new workforce must begin concerns the new operator may have (27). in earnest but with a clear recognition that the new genera- tion of employees will bring a different set of priorities, val- The study in TCRP Report 77 also identifies ways to enhance ues, and talents to the work place. This generation grew up in or establish partnering relationships between management and the electronic age, is more comfortable with change, has labor leadership as mechanisms for attracting, training, and greater expectations for job satisfaction, and is willing to chal- maintaining a qualified workforce. Thirteen transit-agency lenge authority and be challenged by the demands of their case studies revealed commonalities and differences in how work. The success of the new generation will depend to a great transit agencies respond to the challenge of maintaining a qual- extent on the ability of employers to use their attributes and ified workforce, especially in difficult-to-recruit and -retain introduce the emerging work force to innovative approaches positions. The 55-page Human Resources Guide included in to work force planning and development (20). this report is a reference tool of best practices that transit agen- The TRB Special Report 275 emphasizes that in recruiting cies throughout the nation have found effective in recruiting and retaining transit agency employees, one size does not fit and retaining a qualified workforce (27). all. Successful recruitment and retention practices depend Employee retention is not a new issue, but the increasing largely on projecting the strategic needs of the organization mobility of the work force presents a stronger challenge to the and applying a diverse mixture of measures to meet those retention of qualified workers. Factors that enhance retention needs (8). One report produced by the Motor Carrier Coun- range from quality-of-life improvements to a greater com- cil of Canada emphasized the importance of human resources mitment to training and development. Retention has always planning in maintaining a qualified bus operator workforce.