It’s a job that’s never quite done, a goal that’s never quite conquered. It’s continuously striving to raise company standards, along with a clear understanding of the vital importance of HR in the success of a company. It’s innovation and recognition, communication and consultation.
This never-ending drive to improve is shared by the five BCTA members that made Trucking HR Canada’s list of Top Fleet Employers in 2015. Resting on their laurels is no part of the agenda, as shown by the three honourees that are second-time winners: Bison Transport, J & R Hall Transport, and SLH Transport. These companies, along with first-timers Triton Transport and Challenger Motor Freight, focus on constantly strengthening and building their HR programs.
The Top Fleet Employers program recognizes trucking industry workplaces that meet standards of excellence in HR. The program rates fleets of every size on areas such as employee recognition, compensation, engagement, wellness, professional development, recruitment and retention.
Triton, for example, strongly supports initiatives that maintain and improve employee communication and satisfaction, according to Julie Burgess, Triton’s HR and communications manager.
“We offer a very competitive compensation and benefits package that attracts and retains drivers and we have a formal safety bonus rewards program,” she says. “We show appreciation to our employees by holding many impromptu BBQs and fish n’ chip lunches throughout the year. We have instilled a culture of open communication by providing all company drivers with iPhones and have set up individual company e-mail accounts to ensure that all staff, drivers and owner-operators are able to receive regular updates about regulation and policy changes and company initiatives from anywhere they are working. We have implemented a recruitment process that easily engages an applicant all the way through. Triton’s HR department works on continuous process improvements with the objective of upholding a fair, inclusive and equitable work environment.”
Trish Hogue, corporate marketing coordinator at Bison, says: “We are committed to investing in the heart of our business—our people—and that means we cannot allow our programs to fall stagnant. This award represents the commitment our people have to make Bison a great place to be by engaging in solutions and challenging us to keep moving forward. Good ideas and programs are not successful without that.”
Trish suggests that it was Bison’s investment in training that might have impressed the Top Fleet program adjudicators.
“We continue to evolve our safety programs to allow our drivers to continue growing their skills. This holds true with our entry-level driver program and with the training we provide our experienced drivers to continue progressing in their career. We maintain this investment on the non-driving side by continuing to grow developmental opportunities using internal and external sources.”
SLH constantly looks at ways to incorporate HR best practices when adopting new programs, says Ken Cross, SLH’s human resources manager.
“I believe our continued success is driven by HR best practices, which are in the form of, but not limited to, employee reward and employee recognition systems, positive employee relations and knowing that our employees feel that they are part of a strong team,” Cross says. “Driver recruitment initiatives and reward systems across the organization are two key areas we are addressing. As well, we have introduced worker well-being programs within the organization to educate and inform our employees about healthy eating and exercise.”
Charles Brewster, western regional manager at Challenger, also points to Challenger’s dedication to continuous improvement as a factor in its success as a Top Fleet Employer.
“One of the newer initiatives we have put into motion is our ‘Good to Great’ program, which includes members from all levels within our company working together towards enhancing our overall working environment,” he says. “We also look to be as inclusive as possible within our network. With terminals across the country and our drivers on the road throughout North America, it sometimes can be difficult to have everyone’s voices heard or be able to push communication out to everyone effectively. In order to help in this, we have a number of scheduled round tables at our terminals that provide the forum to speak with our employees, as well as weekly company newsletters, and web portals for our drivers.
“We are continually focused on providing the type of environment that people want to be a part of here at Challenger.”
To qualify for the Top Fleet program, the honourees navigated a thorough, multi-stage application and evaluation process.
“The initial application process is quite extensive and takes into account many aspects of the HR efforts as well as company retention initiatives,” Charles explains. “Once the initial application is sent out, an online survey is conducted across the company using both internal staff and drivers requiring a certain percentage overall to qualify.”
Triton’s experience was similar, according to Julie.
“We expressed interest in being considered a 2015 Top Fleet Employer by completing an online submission in February, 2015,” Julie says. “We submitted our backup documentation to support the HR programs and structure that we indicated are in place for our company. In the spring, we were informed that we were shortlisted and we then took part in the final selection step by conducting an employee survey.”
However, the winners agree that applying for the Top Fleet program is worth the effort.
“Go at this in a very organized way,” says Charles. “The process is worth it on its own as you are able to learn a lot about your company.”
Ken agrees and says his advice for other companies is to continue to invest in HR practices.
“Regardless of whether or not you are selected, your investment will pay off in dividends for the organization, and more importantly for your employees,” he says.
Julie urges other companies to apply for next year’s program because the honour is “priceless.”
“The effort is worth the recognition and it reaffirms to your employees that they work for a great employer with best workplace practices in Canada’s trucking industry,” she says.
Brad Hayes, head of safety and compliance for J & R Hall, says that being named to the Top Fleet list justifies the company’s faith in its employees.
“Our employees believe in us and we believe in them,” he states. “It’s a great honour to win back-to-back years and is a great tool for recruiting people to our company.”
As another second-time winner, Ken writes: “Being named in consecutive years is an honour and shows the hard work all employees at SLH Transport play in the success of the organization.”
Trish’s reflections on winning provide a thoughtful perspective on the value of the Top Fleet program.
“Being recognized represents a great opportunity for us to reflect on all the good things we accomplish every day,” she says. “It also presents us with a great opportunity to look at the other carriers honoured and learn from their practices and experiences.
“As an industry, we need to continue to raise the bar and represent the industry as it deserves to be represented so we can engage the younger generation. Awards like the Top Fleet Employer empower us to move the industry forward. Invest in people, and the rest will take care of itself.”