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Limiting turnover: Be honest and consistent with associates

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Truck driving, especially long-haul transportation, is not for everyone.

“It's not a 9-to-5 job. There is a definite lifestyle, and you have to be prepared for that,” said Rita Germak-Swisher, safety and compliance director for Jagtrux Inc., an over-the-road trucking firm in East Donegal Township.

As is the case in nearly all industries where turnover is high, many enter and leave trucking jobs because of unmet expectations. The industry reports driver turnover of 18 to 24 months.

“In the last couple of years, the turnover rate has been a little higher,” Germak-Swisher said. “Older drivers are retiring, and younger drivers are coming in.”

But younger drivers don't always gravitate to long-haul jobs.

“They want to be home every day, and they want to have a life. Their significant others don't want to be home alone,” Germak-Swisher said.

She gets that, she said. When she goes to trucking schools, she said, she is honest about the job and the lifestyle that comes with it.

It's ultimately the upfront communication before hiring and regular engagement with Jagtrux's 35 drivers that might curb the long-term turnover rate, she said.

“We try to treat employees like they are part of our family,” she said. “I know the drivers, their spouses and kids. You just engage them on a daily basis. We want them to feel like they are part of something.”

Turnover

There were 4.44 million job separations in the U.S. in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS. Of that, 2.47 million people quit their jobs, the lowest since April and down from 2.55 million in July.

The quits rate measures the willingness of workers to leave their jobs — likely because they got a better offer.

The industry segments with the most quits and the most largest overall turnover are leisure and hospitality (551,000 quits in August); trade, transportation and utilities (543,000 quits); accommodation and food services (504,000 quits); and professional and business services (449,000 quits).

The BLS has regional separation data for four regions of the country but no localized data. Local human resources professionals point to trucking, retail and food services as high-turnover jobs — the latter two because of low pay and the work hours.

All would fall under trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality.

“How do we keep up with it? Constantly looking for new ways to source and recruit candidates,” said Karen Young, president of HR Resolutions LLC in Lower Paxton Township, an external provider of HR services. “I believe it is absolutely critical that recruiters and any interviewer be brutally honest with the candidate about the less-than-glamorous aspects of a job. It's important to be honest about what the person will face every day (and) allow them to make an informed decision upfront.”

And for those in the job, it's important for employers to regularly engage employees, even if it's little things such as handwritten “thank you” cards or a bit of flexibility in the work schedule to allow for personal obligations.

It is also important to have those “are you still challenged in your job?” conversations, she said. That may be the driving force toward a promotion and potentially a stronger company.

“We forget that it's not necessarily the money,” Young said about why employees look for other jobs. “It's amazing how no-cost or low-cost things can count. It doesn't all have to be about the money.” 

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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