Safety Programs Directly Related To Worker Recruitment, Retention

June 1, 1998
Three speakers discussing employment at the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) safety council seminar agreed that safety programs are directly related

Three speakers discussing employment at the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) safety council seminar agreed that safety programs are directly related to worker recruitment and retention. They presented the information at the meeting in Nashville April 8-9.

Identifying and screening potentially unfit employees prevents companies from suffering injuries and deaths, said Kent Ferguson, index specialist for DAC Services Inc. Notonly are safety considerations affected, but the cost of hiring personnel who will not be long-time employees can impact the budget. He estimated $3,000 to $5,000 per employee will be lost if employment is short-term. Costs are a reflection of recruiting, screening, orientation, and training expenses.

At the same time, employers can be misled by information that is presented by a prospective employee. "All the information on the application form is controlled by the applicant," said Dale Reagan, index data coordinator for DAC Services. He emphasized the importance of confirming the information given by the applicant. "If you can't track where they came from and who they are, you are playing Russian roulette."

Glade R Wilkes, senior safety representative for Great West Casualty Company, said driver retention is the key to any safety program but emphasized that job satisfaction has to be reinforced and maintained so that long-time employees do not become complacent.

"The success of recruiting and training is linked in two ways: how well the recruiter is trained to do the job, and how well the recruiting process attracts workers who will have a high probability of succeeding in the driver training program," he said.

In the interview process, about 52% of the applicants exaggerate their experience, and 38% distort their previous compensation. "About 28 percent are dishonest," said Ferguson. Some may try to hide criminal records and others may not reveal accurate driving records.

Various public reports can be used to verify the information applicants have supplied, said Reagan. For a small fee, reports can be accessed on the Internet, using a social security number. A credit report will show not only the applicant's financial condition, but may reveal discrepancies on the job application form. A commercial driver license report will show date of birth, sex, height, weight, and eye and hair color. If one or more of the descriptions do not match those of the applicant, an employer should be suspicious that other information may be false.

Any information that may seem suspect should be clarified, including taking the time to search not only local records, but those in other areas, if necessary. "Verify, verify, verify," said Ferguson.

After qualified drivers have been hired, their training and job benefits should be expanded and ongoing, said Wilkes. In addition, if an employee program is to be progressive, it should follow extensive planning. Wilkes cited a program in which he participated that required two years of preparation. The program resulted in 1,200 employees achieving four years with no work days lost to injuries or other safety-related issues.

Although training prepares employees to perform their jobs, it also raises their self-respect, sense of belonging, self-actualization, and encourages them to be accountable on the job, said Wilkes. In addition to required training, he recommended that companies provide employees with assistance for voluntary training and continuing education. "Some may not take advantage of it, but they should be given the opportunity," he added.

If a company is going to retain qualified employees, it must enhance the workplace by surpassing health and retirement benefits and provide other services, such as money management training and interaction with employees' families, said Wilkes.

He also cautioned that the "new workforce" is filled with younger people who are not as skilled and who have different values and attitudes from those exhibited by older and more skilled employees. "Company training must confront these differences head on," he said. To meet some of the demands of the "new workforce," entry-level training should include company policies, safety, task requirements, and customer requirements.

He recommended that all employees be allowed to take part in company decisions, including writing safety policies. "If employees are left out of the decisionmaking, you are saying, 'We don't want your input. We don't need it.'" Companies often benefit from employees' suggestions,and employees are more likely to follow through because they are involved in the planning process.

Systematic retraining is essential. "Retraining programs offer opportunities to foster long-term relationships with drivers that are critical to the stability of the driver corps," he said. "People want to be led. They don't want to be managed."