February 3, 2022 | Tim Diggs

Is your company growing or are you just hiring replacements?

Retention problems?

Struggles with workplace retention are at an all-time high.

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Data on the 2022 Great Resignation

I have devoted over 20 years in the transportation industry, evaluating and improving existing operational processes, developing new processes, deploying new systems, and delivering training to operations personnel.

The transportation industry, like most others, is experiencing high workloads and strenuous deadlines to meet daily. A common problem across the industry has been getting additional people on board, for various reasons.

For example, increased government regulations and paperwork for CDL drivers doesn’t help at the moment. Yet most refer to a decrease in available candidates to fill roles or are struggling to keep workers from leaving for a different company offering a slightly higher salary.

With the candidate pool lower than average right now, it is a priority that carriers retain the workforce they have in order to meet demand and experience growth in their workforce.

So let’s face facts: The transportation industry races the clock. On-time service is a priority for customers, it runs second only to price when a customer evaluates staying with a carrier or moving to a competitor. Racing the clock has bred a mentality across most of the operation areas across the industry that condones actions such as we do not have time to fix it, so stick a band-aid on it for now and go on.

Our training program: Who has time for that?

“Don’t got time…” That reminds me of what I have heard many times. “We need more people.” Next sentence, “we don’t have time to train them here, they need to be trained already when they get to us.” Is it surprising those operations struggle? Already trained people have a job to do and are most likely not your next candidate for your open position.

Our training program: Just listen to [name].

Training programs tend to be similar across companies of the same industry. A common and poor training program will look similar to this: “Hi Joe. Welcome. Meet Jim. You will be working with Jim. Jim will be showing you everything you need to know. Just listen to Jim, do what he says and does.” Joe follows Jim around for a minimal period of time because “we need him right now!” He gets the layout of the place, some general here’s how you do this or that type instruction. The next step, watch some CBT’s and…training complete! “Here’s your keys Joe.” Not a moment too soon, because we are covered up and need every man we can get and throw at this.

What happens next? Joe has problems. He’s too slow, makes mistakes, causes other experienced workers more time working around him or going behind him to fix his mistakes, he takes too long on his assignments, etc. Aggravated with his performance, supervisors assign Joe the rough loads, stick him off to the side where he won’t slow anyone else down. Only give him tasks that are not time-sensitive because “He’s not going to work out”. The next step, tell leadership we need to hire more people because the last guy was no good and we are still behind. It is no wonder it will be a struggle to retain Joe or that he becomes a contributor in the operation with the expedited training he received.

Employee retention begins with adequate training

I got some great advice 24 years ago on this exact issue when I was a shift supervisor. Our site director Bryan came to me and asked how the new guy that started last night was doing. “I don’t know” I responded. “He’s been here one night. He didn’t get lost coming back from lunch, so I guess he’s doing good. I got him working with Bill.” Wrong answer.

Bryan overlooked the urge to race the clock, brought me into his office, sat me down, and taught me a valuable lesson. “We work hard and spend a lot of time and money on identifying the best candidates we can,” he said. “You guys get them and just throw them out there. You have got to get your hands around these new guys because we need them to be successful and stay with us. It is up to you to make sure they get trained the right way so they will be a contributor for us. Tonight you follow up with his training and report to me on how he is doing tomorrow.” You better know I got involved in that trainee’s progress real quick.

It worked though. It took 4 weeks, but after that initial training period, the new guy went right into the job and did well. He advanced through various roles and was a valued employee at that company 20 years later. We broke from the usual stick him with a guy and built a solid training plan. We identified all the tasks he needed to know how to do, we mapped out what specific objectives his training would be each session, we instructed the trainee, provided opportunities for him to practice and repeat each task, and quizzed him regularly to ensure his level of understanding.

We did not come up with this enhanced training process on our own. We followed the guidance in the training section of the TapRooT® System. Built right in the root cause tree is a roadmap for building a training system that works.

When you are trying to address turnover, hiring additional workers to meet production needs, do not overlook the importance of implementing a training system that will produce capable workers who will be a sustained asset to your process for years to come.

To learn more about building a robust training program in a TapRooT® Course check out the 5 Day TapRooT® Advanced Team Leader or the 2 Day Stopping Human Error Course.

About Tim

Tim Diggs

At System Improvements, Tim Diggs is an Executive Advisor for Implementation and Development, as well as a TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis & Advanced Investigation Systems Instructor. Aside from the formal titles, Tim is a great guy with a super-approachable manner. These characteristics enable students in Tim’s TapRooT® courses to have an optimal learning experience.

As a strategic advisor, Tim Diggs empowers his clients to move forward effectively with his contagious “going above and beyond” attitude. As an instructor, he skillfully builds camaraderie in the classroom to create an impactful learning environment.

Connect with Tim; email him at tim.diggs@taproot.com; or learn from his blogs.

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