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54 Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce Misperceptions of the Gender/Cultural Barriers. Participants indicated that females may not be choosing transportation jobs because they perceive them as having gender barriers that inhibit successful career advancement. In addition, female candidates may feel that they will be discriminated against on the job because the industry is dominated by males. The National Association of Women in Construction reports that only 10 percent of the construction workforce is female. Participants in a study for the Florida DOT indicated that this statistic represents their experience (Cronin et al., 2007). Participants in the same study indicated that the greatest influence on a female applicant's decision to accept an unskilled transportation job is frequently the physical demands of the job. The next greatest influence reported was related to the cultural and background influences (e.g., family and friends) on prospective female applicants and the applicant's belief that people similar to her are not employed in the field (Cronin et al., 2007). This "similarity factor" supports the contention that female applicants perceive the field as being male- dominated. In addition to gender, close to one-half of the participants in the study indicated that cultural and/or background influences, such as influential family and friends, are challenges with recruiting applicants from other non-traditional populations (Cronin et al., 2007). 7.2 Industry Strategies. Researchers and program managers identify the following programmatic strategies when describing industry efforts in "Branding the Organization/Industry" (see Exhibit 7-2). While these strategies represent the general direction of human resource (HR) departments across the nation, it is important that the specific needs of your agency are used to guide the development and implementation of a program in your agency. Exhibit 7-2 Industry Strategies: Branding the Organization/Industry Strategy Strategy Description Advertise the Strengths In terms of benefits, organizations emphasize retirement benefits, full-year of the Organization work contracts, extended vacation time, on-the-job and technological training, scholarships, reimbursement programs for continuing education, health insurance, life insurance, flexible schedules, and telework programs. To promote the potential for advancements, organizations develop career track information that features the average timeline for promotions and describes the positions available at each consecutive level of the organization. Candidates who are not initially attracted to unskilled positions may reconsider the opportunity if they know that their time at entry-level will be short and that positions with more responsibility are only a short time away. When it comes to recruiting younger generations, organizations are focusing on the social aspects of the job and if possible the work flexibility and growth opportunity. In advertisements and interviews, organizations are highlighting the team- based work environment, social events, sports teams, and online networking groups. Get Involved in the Participants suggested their organizations perform community service work as Community and a means of advertising their name and marketing their civic commitment and Advertise It thereby increasing the number of applicants who choose to apply. Many states have "Adopt a Highway" programs where organizations can participate and place a sign on the highway that says "Cleaned by Organization X." Other organizations provide their employees with company t-shirts to wear while completing the community service. These efforts to increase community involvement have been found to be effective in recruiting applicants from
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Branding the Organization/Industry 55 Exhibit 7-2 (Continued) Industry Strategies: Branding the Organization/Industry Strategy Strategy Description Generation Y who are more attracted to organizations involved in the community. After decades of corporate scandals, applicants are concerned about the altruism and ethics of their employer in addition to the compensation. "Working at a company that has high values" was a top 5 value enunciated by organizational leaders in a 2008 study on talent management and retention (Galinsky, Carter, and Bond, 2008). Some participants reward employees who volunteer for road cleanings on their own time and/or who help stranded motorists while on the job. Sponsoring popular activities (such as county fairs), making charitable contributions, establishing green policies, and raising the bar on business ethics are other ways to be present and noticed in a community. One example of a program that several organizations have joined is "Engineers without Borders." Use Real Employees in Organizations have found that using real employees in their advertisements, Advertisements especially women and minorities, has been very effective in recruiting applicants. Real workers appear more credible, even if they are less polished, and are more readily prepared to describe their daily experiences. Also, applicants may be better able to identify with actual entry-level workers than seasoned HR professionals. To capitalize on this idea, organizations have rewarded high performers with the opportunity to speak at career days and other recruiting events. These high performers can share anecdotes, statistics, and quotes about their organization and other successful employees that started in entry-level positions. This shows potential candidates that there is opportunity for advancement within the organization. Some organizations utilize female workers when recruiting female applicants. Other organizations work with associations like the National Association of Women in Construction to provide support in the area of recruiting females. One strategy these groups are using is to show that many females already have experience working in physically demanding jobs including hospital work, restaurant work, and child-care, which could qualify them for other labor-intensive careers. Make the Jobs Employees perpetuate community and prospective applicant ideas about the Appealing company by telling others about their own experiences. Thus, if employees are pleased with where they work, those employees help to create a positive reputation for the agency. Improve Image as The transportation industry has traditionally been thought of as a seniority- "Diversity Friendly" based industry that inadvertently discriminates against minority groups and females who have been in the workplace for fewer years. Use a Comprehensive Many associations and agencies recognize that recruitment challenges stem Marketing Campaign from education and the lack of information available to students and the general public about transportation jobs. Thus, some organizations have launched comprehensive marketing campaigns to improve the image of transportation. Rewards and recognition are also a large part of these campaigns.