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By Navolia Bryant
There’s one clear 2020 lesson for businesses: talent acquisition and retention are paramount in a company’s competitive edge. This is especially true for the transportation industry, where attracting and retaining the next generation of drivers has been a big challenge.
Post-pandemic, finding good talent will be harder and harder. Employees are calling the shots now. We are getting questions from candidates about whether we offer pet health insurance. What will help talent stick around is not just a great benefits and compensation package, but increasingly a great company culture too – a home away from home.
Here are four ways business leaders can work toward strengthening their culture.
1. Identify Your Vision and Values
Your company is distinct from the 700,000 other trucking businesses in the U.S. What sets you apart is your vision and core values. Truly understanding the values you believe in offers a roadmap to your company’s growth and success, helps attract and retain the right candidates, and also helps your team members understand how their work makes a difference for your company, your industry and the world.
So, bring your leadership, your managers and your employees together and revisit your values! As your company grows, some of them may have become outdated. Re-evaluate your values collectively, ensure that you have buy-in from bottom to top, and set a plan to put those values into practice. And then, live them. Every day.
2. Every Voice Matters
Yes, every voice matters, and it should truly matter in your workplace. Employees hear lip service loud and clear, and will not hesitate to leave an employer that doesn’t mean what it says.
Watch a replay of a webinar Navolia conducted at the 2021 Women in Trucking Conference
Research has demonstrated that when employers truly value diverse opinions, diverse outlooks and ideas, it positively impacts their bottom line. “Diversity should be understood as the varied perspectives and approaches to work that members of different identity groups bring,” wrote authors David A. Thomas and Robin J. Ely in a 1996 Harvard Business Review article, “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity.”
That authentic understanding of diversity rings truer than ever before. We are living in a world where more and more underrepresented voices are speaking up and speaking out, and rightly so. We each bring a unique perspective that collectively makes up powerful intelligence. We must build a culture that truly appreciates each and every one of us, and makes each and every one of us feel valued.
Interns learn all about the trailer industry while working at Premier
Every year, we celebrate our top branch and most improved branch with our “President’s Award” and a special trip with our CEO, Jim AuBuchon
Team members from across the nation come together at our annual leadership conference
3. Work-Life Balance
As millennials enter the workforce, they are looking for a work-life balance. Don’t even think about turning your employees into workaholics. It will backfire. At our company, we believe our employees are professionals, fully capable of completing their work, while juggling life’s demands. Some of our employees start their day at 6:30 am. Others start their day at 9 am. We have intentionally created a culture where employees enjoy the flexibility to be able to juggle personal obligations while also being accountable for their work.
One of the stories that will forever stay with me is the sympathy and flexibility the executive team at Premier showed when my mother fell ill 18 months into my employment. I worked from the office in the mornings but then from my mother’s bedside at her hospital in the afternoons, grateful for the opportunity to check in on my mother and chat with the doctors about her health. When an employer is kind and empathetic, employees remember that, and are willing to be lifelong ambassadors for the employer.
4. Supporting Women
The transportation industry has traditionally been male-dominated, and women continue to make up a small portion of entry-level to executive-level roles in the transportation industry. Women truck drivers, women in logistics and women in the C-suite have helped ensure pharmacies and grocery shelves remain stocked during the pandemic, but they themselves may have felt unheard or unsafe on the job. There needs to be a broader discussion on how we can support women and make our industry more conducive and welcoming to entry of women employees and ensure their safety and well-being.
We are in a new global era. Companies’ success will be measured by not just technology and agility but also being able to retain and benefit from top talent. It is time to make culture a core business strategy.
Navolia Bryant is the Chief People Officer at Premier Trailer Leasing, overseeing all aspects of Human Resources, Payroll and Training & Development along with being the architect of the company culture. She is an accomplished HR executive with 25+ years of experience. Navolia attained her Professional Designation of Strategic Human Resources Leadership from Cornell University, and her Bachelor of Psychology from the University of New Orleans.