In an era of labour shortages, it’s important to hold onto the quality team members you have.
It’s looking like this will be the year when the war for talent becomes a hot war. Rising interest rates and persistent inflation have not had any effect on the demand for workers at all levels of skill and education. Job vacancies are soaring and there seem to be more postings for jobs in fleet management than ever before. Skilled trades in automotive repair are also in short supply, as anyone who has tried to hire an automotive technician will confirm.
Focus on retention
Recruitment is failing to attract the needed applications for many job openings, so it is time to focus on employee retention. Many organizations have statements about being a great place to work, and a few are recognized as “top 50” or “top 100” best employers. The perks often include lots of time to work from home, which is not always practical for a fleet services operation dealing with hard assets like vehicles, fuel stations and repair shops (and important things like keys).
Retention tactics need to shift away from perks and focus on the quality of life at work, emphasizing the intangible attributes of employee pride, security and recognition for things that are done well.
It has been said that it is more fun to work at a place known for its great service instead of its ordinary service. There are ways for fleet management—an internal service in most organizations—to become known for meeting standards that are much more difficult than an ordinary service would be expected to meet.
Two high standards that fleet managers should consider are ISO 9001 for quality management systems and ISO 14001 for environmental management systems. At first glance, they appear to be complicated and time-consuming. Meeting high standards should take extra effort or they would not deserve the recognition they have earned. But they are not so overwhelming for thousands of organizations around the world that have received certification for meeting the standards.
These standards have many benefits besides being able to put up a banner in the workplace. Reduced waste, fewer mistakes, avoiding regulatory infractions, and being accountable are all good outcomes. The best outcome is how employees feel when they see that the place they work at has been recognized as meeting a global standard. Now they can see a real plan, with goals and objectives that they can influence. It is much better than “delivering increased value to our customers” or “fostering excellence”. (I want to point out that excellence is an attribute, not an orphan.)
ISO standards are the most recognized standards because they are used around the world. In Canada and the U.S., NAFA’s 100 Best Fleets, Smartway and the E3 Fleet standard for plans to reduce environmental impacts from the fleet operation are very good options.
Meeting a standard like ISO is not something one does off the side of one’s desk. It requires the same effort as setting up a new line of business. Some of the key elements of an ISO standard are maintaining good records including minutes of meetings, regular measurements of progress, and visible support from top management. These are necessary for any new business activity and achieving a standard requires the same commitment.
Of course, meeting a standard alone is not enough to keep employees from leaving. Management style that recognizes individual and teamwork, and creates an environment where employees feel secure and appreciated is still the best way to retain talent. In this cycle of high employee turnover, keeping teams together is more important than ever.