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15 Using planning tools and keeping up to date with economic addition, new and existing operators should be recognized and demographic changes and internal workforce character- for their experience, good performance, skills, and tenure istics can play a large part in securing and retaining the cur- within the company (38). rent and future workforce (37). New employee orientation has received considerable atten- TCRP Synthesis Report 40: A Challenged Employment System: tion in literature as critical for new trucker assimilation. New Hiring, Training, Performance Evaluation, and Retention of Bus employee orientation is the very first step of retention that Operators cites proactive bus operator workforce planning prepares the new hire to feel like a part of the organization. models at two transit agencies--San Diego Transit and Utah Literature about new truck operator orientation suggests that Transit Authority. At both agencies, these models address con- operators should receive properly designed orientation train- siderations such as agency historical experience, operating ing with clearly defined job expectations. Authors agree that requirements, service changes, service variability, absenteeism strong orientation takes the guesswork out of a new job and rates, turnover, training and transition-to-work turnover, provides guidelines for behavior so that new operators know selection time frame, and training duration. While such mod- from the start what is expected from them and what they can els can be helpful, in order for them to reach their full poten- expect from the company. Macklin suggested approaches to tial, they require regular maintenance and data updating (34). a basic orientation include a welcome from a senior officer, TCRP Report 77: Managing Transit's Workforce in the New completion of the administrative requirements for the hiring Millennium provides guidelines that enable employers to assess process and job specific subjects such as safety, benefits, com- their own workforce needs, especially in difficult-to-recruit pensation, company operations, maintenance procedures, and difficult-to-retain positions. The guidelines are presented tour of the facility, and hands-on demonstrations (39). in the form of a self-assessment tool that allows the user to According to trucking estimates, as much as 75% of a car- examine policies, practices, and other factors that may influ- rier's turnover comes in the first 90 days after an operator is ence a transit agency's ability to maintain a qualified workforce. hired. Misunderstandings are a big factor in turnover during The tool views recruiting and retaining a qualified workforce the first 90 days. Many believe it is due to poor orientation (40). from a total system perspective, which requires an organiza- Orientation should be the time when truck operators start tional team effort for maximum benefit of its use (27). forming relationships with others in the company. Fleet exec- One aspect of workforce planning that organizations have utives should visit each new orientation class and include a tour begun to embrace is to begin planting the seeds to cultivate of the company to help operators connect with the whole com- interest in young people much earlier. Reaching out to pany, not just their classroom. Operators should also meet schools, vocational programs, and universities is an increas- their assigned dispatchers or fleet managers who are the oper- ingly popular approach (20). ator's connection with the company on a daily basis (33, 40). Belin and Lackwood suggested that the orientation should be spread over several weeks and include more than just a Successful Approaches Cited cursory introduction to the organization's policies and pro- in Other Transportation Sectors cedures. Their 2006 study, sponsored by SHRM, provides In 10 Ways to Reduce Driver Turnover, Smith suggests that detailed guidelines for the development of an effective orien- truck operator recruiters need more training and better tools. tation program (40). Recruiters are under pressure to hire anyone who qualifies The study focused on the concept of orientation as effective under USDOT rules. The cost of poorly targeted advertising, onboarding that enables the new employee to learn the organi- unprofessional interviewing, and poorly defined and enforced zational culture and behavior. Retaining newcomers is a chal- qualification standards, followed by inadequate post-hiring lenge and many leave within the first few months. The research training, all contribute to the high price of recruitment and focuses on socialization, "a process in which an individual retention. Smith says that organizations can remedy this acquires the attitudes, behaviors and knowledge needed to dilemma by automating some of the tasks and providing successfully participate as an organizational member." A typ- recruiters with help on administrative details. Today's tech- ical socialization process includes the following three stages: nology allows recruiters to build an operator information file as they talk with the operator. Automation can also give com- Anticipatory socialization occurs before the new employee panies a readily accessible database of potential candidates. joins the organization. Through interactions with represen- To address this issue, some companies are using "behavioral tatives of the business, such as recruiters and managers, the tests that evaluate key personality characteristics such as employee forms expectations about the organization and aggressiveness, sociability, patience and conformity." Smith the job prior to entry. goes on to state that the employer should create and clearly The encounter stage starts when the new employee begins define and articulate career paths within the organization. In a new job and starts to learn about job tasks and receives

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16 training. At this point, managers can exert their influence the pool of potential applicants will be reduced. He adds that by helping the new employee understand specific roles and it is also essential that companies "stand out" in terms of non- duties. Also, by understanding the stresses and issues that wage "people issues." Pay alone is not always the answer since newcomers experience, managers can help cultivate a high- other companies will probably be willing to match increases. quality work relationship with each newcomer. Burkert observes that job vacancies offer the temptation to Settling in occurs when the new employee begins to feel fill a position with a less than ideal candidate but suggests that comfortable with the demands of the new position and social this can have disastrous consequences. Failing to hire prop- relationships with fellow employees. The employee will be erly may shift and delay costs and consequences, but it does interested in learning how his or her performance will be not eliminate them. He states that "In the face of chronic evaluated and potential internal career opportunities (41). operator shortages and strong customer demand for service, carriers first decline to discipline their vehicle operators, and The importance of management training and actions has then refuse to terminate, even in the face of poor perfor- received increased attention in employee retention literature. mance, and finally and inevitably, lower their standards of It is generally agreed that managers should be trained in peo- conduct for the operators in their employ. This downward ple skills and how to recognize the signs of stress in them- spiral is one that impacts company revenue, profits, employee selves and in operators, and how to do something about it productivity and, perhaps worst of all, operational safety." before it becomes problematic. Training should also include Burkert also notes that hiring new employees isn't free, no negotiation skills. Look for the win-win situation and solu- matter how you do it. He states that estimates of the cost of tion. Vehicle operators also want to be shown appreciation hiring and placement range broadly but are almost always and respect. A simple "thank you" can lead to a culture of measured in the thousands of dollars. This claim is also sup- "people appreciating people" and a great place to work. Reg- ported by Diane Arthur in The Employee Recruitment and ular performance reviews are also important. Reviews should Retention Handbook, who notes that research indicates that note areas where operators excel and where performance can the average cost per employee hired and trained is about 25% be improved, along with suggestions that help them make of that employee's annual salary (42). those improvements. Operators should also be able to bring Burkert points out that recruitment and retention are two up problems or issues that concern them (40). sides of the same coin. Actions taken to retain current vehicle According to Brandon, recruitment branding is a work- operators, assuming they are effective and meaningful, are force planning concept that is gaining prominence in employ- often the same things that will attract job seekers. He offers ment circles. The key to success is honestly portraying an the following three general strategies for being successful in organization's strengths and culture. The author suggests that recruitment and retention: the image an employer projects for potential hires should be honest. Employers should develop a list of five to 10 top, hon- Make your company a desirable place to work, est messages that the candidate needs to know: opportunity Provide competitive wages and compensation, and for advancement; chance to help in an important cause; the Offer careers instead of jobs. opportunity to develop highly prized skills; the respect of working for an industry leader; or the ability to reap benefits Burkert suggests that companies must first be realistic in and perks. Hiring managers are no longer able to attract analyzing which positive and negative factors and forces are employees with just salary and benefits. Employees are look- in place to make an applicant feel that the company is either ing for employers who are truthful on the front end. And since a desirable place to work or an unattractive one. He states that recruitment drives retention, employers may enjoy greater it is essential that promises to recruits be in line with reality. retention with honesty (42). If new employees aren't going to get the best runs or hours In 60 Ways to Improve Driver Recruitment and Retention, they need, don't say they will. He states that "A swinging door Burkert provides an in-depth analysis of vehicle operator that fills the `bottom rung' of the company roster contributes recruitment and retention issues in the trucking industry nothing but additional costs." (22). While some of the information is specific to trucking, Burkert cites studies that suggest that there are only a few much is also applicable to bus and paratransit services. things that really attract employees to companies, such as the Burkert points out that the potential employees sought by following: truck and bus employers are also sought by manufacturers, service establishments, construction employers, and dozens Trust--a business and supervisors that employee can have of other types of businesses. He notes that companies need to faith in; make themselves "stand out" to be successful in recruiting. Compatibility with peers--co-workers one can appreciate Wages need to be competitive with these other job sectors or and take pride in; and

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17 Character of the work--challenges accompanied by man- Burkert indicates that another key part of the operator agement support. turnover problem is poor relationships between operators and supervisors, dispatchers, and managers. He emphasizes He also claims studies show that what operators want and that supervisors, dispatchers, and managers must "talk, listen need from their jobs are the following: and respond" to operators. Burkert lists the following 18 questions that he encourages Appreciation of their efforts; companies to ask themselves if they are interested in reduc- Insight and information--being "in on things;" ing turnover: Recognition--not only awards and bonuses but recogni- 1. Have you assured your wages are adequate and in line with tion of their company decisions that take employee prefer- prevailing labor rates? How do you know for sure? ences into consideration to the extent possible; 2. Have you verified that the number of hours worked by Respect--courtesy, equality and explanation; employees meets their expectations? Pride in the job done; 3. Have you found ways to reduce downtime and time away from home? (mainly a trucking issue) Adequate compensation; 4. Have you provided personal growth through skill and knowl- Security; edge training? A better balance between home and work time--one of the 5. Have you considered "Hire an attitude, teach a skill?" most frequent complaints about driving (in trucking) is 6. When was the last time you tried to learn what parts of the the overwhelming demands on the individual's time; job your employees liked the most and the least? Better pay for the work done; 7. If you have up-to-date information about employee likes and dislikes, what did you do about them? Fringe benefits--"health insurance is the king;" 8. What avenues have you provided for the operator to achieve Relationships with co-workers--build mechanisms for personal status or recognition? employees to interact; and 9. How have you enriched the vehicle operator's job? Training opportunities. 10. How have you made driving at your company a career instead of a job? 11. Have you instituted a longevity incentive or bonus scheme? Burkert points out that not all employees are driven by the 12. Have your supervisors been trained in human relations "top dollar." Other factors are also important. But the wage skills? must be competitive. He notes that higher wages are most 13. Is there an effective system for internal two-way communi- beneficial to expand the labor pool from which a company cation? might be able to draw applicants. He claims that competitive 14. How do you keep employees informed about the company, wages are critical to successful recruitment but notes that its business and events and their role in each of these things? 15. How do you know there is no better place to work in your wages are only one of many factors in retention. He suggests region? that even with higher wages, other factors such as a negative 16. Does your trip or route job assignment system meet both work environment will still cause turnover. At the same time, customer and employee needs? he emphasizes the importance of a reasonable wage, stating: 17. Is there a means for operators to learn, grow and become "No amount of company programming, feel-good incen- more skilled? 18. Have you upgraded your standards so employees can take tives, image-building and `friendly workplace' efforts will pride in where they work? replace a livable wage. A job must allow employees to meet the basic needs of themselves and their families." Finally, Burkert lists 60 ideas for helping with recruitment Burkert emphasizes the need to "hire attitude and train and retention of operators. While some are specific to the skills." He highlights a case study of a successful company that trucking industry, the following are applicable to bus and para- "began to hire persons with good attitudes and trained those transit operations: individuals to drive" rather than just hiring "experienced" operators from other companies. Referral bonuses: should be about one week's typical pay. Burkert also emphasizes the need to offer vehicle operators Pay referral bonuses incrementally based on new hire opportunities for advancement. He states that in his opinion longevity. the difference between careers and jobs causes the worst of Diverse advertising through multiple advertising media. the trucking industry's operator shortage problem. He sug- Multiple toll-free numbers linked to each advertising gests that to really address the issue, companies must consider media so you can determine which is working best. ways to create more "careers" and offer fewer and fewer "jobs." Use recruiting websites: Don't overlook online recruiting This means finding those who are seeking to make a long- and respond quickly to internet responses. term commitment to the job and giving them an opportunity Make quick hiring decisions to avoid losing the best to grow and earn. applicants.