Ageism Has No Place in Today’s Trucking Industry

Author: SafetyDriven

Ageism is stereotyping or discriminating against, or preferring, people because of their age. It hurts us all.

Millennials are spoiled and have a short attention span. Generation Xers are hypercritical of management and resent working overtime. Baby boomers hate technology and are resistant to change.

Sound familiar? The media full of negative ideas and generalizations about the generations and their work habits. Some are prejudice and some may have a grain of truth. Certainly, these negative attitudes are not universal, but it is clear employers need to figure out what attracts, motivates, and retains good employees of all ages. This is especially true for trucking companies in Canada, which are facing an acute labour shortage; employers cannot afford to overlook job seekers because of when they were born. Understanding the needs and expectations of different generations, not dismissing or deriding them, can be the cornerstone of a successful and happy workplace.

Boomers were born from 1946 to 1964, after the Second World War, during a period defined by social upheaval and affluence. Boomers are now between 56 and 74 years old and those who are still working are nearing retirement. Members of Generation X, born from 1965 to 1980, are 40 to 55 years old. They want a good work/life balance. Millennials, born from 1980 to 2000 and now between 20 and 40, are exploring and building their careers.

According to The Road Ahead, a Trucking HR Canada 2020 report, 31% of Canadian truck drivers are boomers, who tend to be hard-working and loyal. Their experience and their attitude make them valuable employees; with many people today working past age 65, it’s vital that businesses keep them as long as possible and keep them happy. Boomers want to be respected for their experience and appreciate employers understanding their changing physical requirements and need for healthy living as they age.

Gen Xers comprise the majority of today’s professional drivers. This cohort is generally independent and self-sufficient, excellent traits for drivers. Since many in this age group have young families, they often prioritize having options in their work commitments. Elizabeth The in “Engaging Gen X Employees in the Workplace,” writes of Gen Xers, “when it comes to rewards, they value benefits that prioritize the importance of flexibility in order to allow them to care for and spend quality time with their families and in their lives outside of the [workplace].”

Currently, less than 15 percent of Canadian truck drivers are under 35. Few millennials are choosing trucking as a career and this is a major issue for employers. Trucking HR Canada reports: “The trucking industry hasn’t been successful in recruiting millennials….Trucking doesn’t fit Canadian millennials’ image of themselves and how they want their family and friends to see them. ‘If I work for trucking, what does that say about who I am?’” Employers should help millennials see that their stereotypes of truck drivers and the industry in general are outdated and that trucking is an important, evolving, and innovative sector.

In addition, businesses can attract younger workers by recognizing and addressing their needs in the workplace. In “How  Fleets Seeking Drivers Can Attract, Keep Millennial Talent,” Adam Kahn encourages trucking companies to support their millennials by embracing new technology, building work connections by communicating often and providing positive feedback, and rewarding good workers.

If you would like more information about working in a multi-generational workplace, register for SafetyDriven’s Speaker Series. This industry-based event looks at the health and safety challenges facing transportation companies, big and small, with a focus on building their optimal team. Examining a diverse workforce of new entrants and seasoned veterans, you will discover tricks and tools to engage all generations in a synergistic sharing of each other’s experiences.

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