Jackie Jacobs, CLFP, is the Director of Data Analytics and Corporate Development for Fleet Advantage, an innovator in truck fleet business analytics, equipment financing and life cycle cost management.
Jackie Jacobs, director of data analytics and corporate development for Fleet Advantage, discusses not just why diversity has become a major boon to any industry that embraces it, but how reaching diversity goals in this industry can be made possible with an increase in understanding of its unique requirements.
Diversity has become a great strength today, and it is true not only in the workforce but in society in general. Despite this, recruiters and companies throughout the world continue to find many challenges in reaching diversity goals. As we look more deeply at the challenge, it is not because of a lack of available talent, but rather more so because of a lack of understanding of the unique needs required to reach different age groups and backgrounds.
Companies and recruiters in transportation need to pay closer attention to these needs because organizations sincerely depend on recruitment and retention to grow and prosper. Finding talent is arguably the most important strategy and objective any company has to face. Consider that despite recent data showing a strong labor market overall in the U.S.1, several industries continue to face a significant shortage of talent in their recruitment efforts2.
Knowing these challenges exist makes it even more important to identify proper strategies in bridging the gap between ages to achieve retention goals for each company and demonstrate the right amount of flexibility.
Different generations bring unique strengths and viewpoints
Finding and achieving greater age diversity can yield tremendous benefits for companies in the transportation industry. Each generation brings a unique cadre of strengths and differing viewpoints. Companies that only cater to a certain age group in their workforce are missing out on these variances and are actually fostering deficiencies within their corporate structure.
More specifically, when there are blatant age gaps in the talent pool of a company, there will always be people operating in roles for which they are not ideally suited. This often leads to underperformance and, in many cases, other staffing issues such as high employee turnover. However, focusing on opportunities and flexibility with greater age diversity helps mitigate such concerns as each employee will be in position to excel and strive to reach their own personal goals, which contribute to the overall success of the company.
To be fair, a closer view of today’s generational age differences among today’s workforce illustrates a significant disparity of differences that can very much impact talent recruitment.
Some age gaps are not intentional, rather a result of a law. For example, the trucking and transportation industries for years have been dealing with a driver scarcity that is now projected to see a shortage of 82,000 drivers by the end of 20233. The major culprit of this shortage is a significant age gap because a CDL (commercial driver’s license) to cross state lines cannot be obtained until you’re 21. Some CDLs are offered to younger drivers, but they have to operate within their respective state4.
Fortunately, on January 14, 2022, FMCSA announced in a Federal Register Notice (FRN) the establishment of the Safe Drive Apprenticeship Pilot (SDAP) Program5, which allows certain 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. Since there were 11.46 billion tons of freight transported by trucks in 2022, representing 72.6% of total domestic tonnage shipped5, this is an important move forward for the industry, as well as everyone in the country.
Understanding the differences in communication
Differences in how employees communicate represent one of the most prominent variations among differing age groups today, and understanding this can be significant for today’s recruiters. It has been widely documented (but not always understood inside corporations) that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers appreciate more efficient means of communication, including phone calls and face-to-face meetings. However, younger generations like Millennials and Gen-Zers prefer digital and mobile communications.
This statement does not mean Boomers and Gen-Xers do not know how to use a mobile phone, for example. But it does mean they have expectations of how certain activities are communicated and carried out in day-to-day tasks, such as coordinating an event or setting up meetings.
Recruiters may also see differences in the way different generations look for career opportunities. Boomers and Gen-Xers tend to align more with traditional methods, such as exploring prospects through classified ads, employment agencies, referrals, and even professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn. Younger generations today expect higher levels of engagement with prospective employers, communicating via technology, online job boards, apps and even text messaging. They also find it more natural to conduct an interview via Zoom webchats.
It is also important to understand and recognize different expectations varying age groups have in terms of job performance and in-office communications.
Boomers and even some Gen-Xers perceive their relationship with their employers as more formal, professional, and transactional. They do not expect that important issues such as social justice and corporate responsibility are topics that corporate America should openly address, and work/life balance needs are not expected to be fluid and flexible.
Conversely, younger workers in the Millennial and Gen-Zers age groups have much higher expectations for their employers, especially when it comes to social and emotional needs. These age groups are more inclined to ask that their employer foster a socially responsible corporate image and to expect that their work will in some way align with their ideological perspectives and moral values.
Furthermore, younger workers, even prior to but certainly exacerbated by the pandemic, often expect to cultivate the expectation that employers will support workers in a more flexible office/remote environment to emphasize work/life balance. These expectations today can strain relationships, especially now that many companies are shifting back to in-office requirements.
Quiet quitting doesn’t mean walking off the job
Organizations have recently begun to realize the outcome of disregarding the needs of younger workers and placing an expectation that all employees – regardless of age –embrace a work environment that reflecting traditional settings and expectations.
This is a large reason why younger demographic workers have been “quiet quitting”, where they do the bare minimum amount of work so they can enjoy more of their work/life balance. In essence, they are choosing to not go above and beyond the call of duty for the benefit of the organization’s needs. Roughly 59% of employees recently said they themselves are quiet quitters6.
Understanding these generational differences will help companies in the transportation industry avoid or reduce scenarios like quiet quitting, and it will help bridge the generational gap that now exists when recruiting potential employees that come from a diverse set of age ranges.
About The Author: Jackie Jacobs, CLFP, is the Director of Data Analytics & Corporate Development for Fleet Advantage, an innovator in truck fleet business analytics, equipment financing and life cycle cost management. For more information visit www.FleetAdvantage.com.
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