Trucking Human Resources Council – Atlantic
By George Fullerton
Late this past winter the Trucking Human Resources Council – Atlantic (THRSC-A) hosted a conference focusing on Building Inclusive Workplaces. THRSC-A executive Director Kelly Henderson commented, “Our keynote speaker was incredible and we received very positive feedback from attendees.”
Keynote speaker, Buhle Dlamini, is an international business consultant, speaker and facilitator who has been motivating audiences around the world for more than a dozen years. Born in South Africa, Dlamini is currently based in Canada. As the trucking industry increasingly markets to culturally diverse customers and employs an increasingly culturally diverse staff, Dlamini’s message was to develop a cross cultural mindset in order to succeed in a culturally diverse environment. Todd Seaward, General Manager Classic Freight and Chairperson of THRSC-A, reflected that Dlamini’s message was particularly engaging and informative. “One of his main points which I took home was to not set limitations in regards to an employee potential.” Dlamini holds that employees have individual abilities and may also possess the potential to take on additional challenges and responsibilities. It is important that supervisors not make assumptions or set limitations for employees, but rather provide opportunities for them to take on new challenges and reach their higher potential. Seaward shared that “Mr. Dlamini has a dynamic and effective speaking style.” Dlamini was born into a Zulu community in South Africa and grew up with many challenges. Dlamini had to work very hard overcome those challenges, and his perseverance lead to higher education and a successful business career. Dlamini reflects on his own personal story to illustrate the potential that individuals and employees possess.
Seaward said that one of his most important take home messages from the Dlamini talk was to be personally conscious of his own internal biases, and to recognize the individual qualities and challenges that each person he deals with possesses.
Classic Freight employs a number of foreign workers as professional drivers. Seaward said he gained specific insight into some of the personal and social challenges foreign workers experience as a result of an uncommon request from one of his drivers. “This particular driver approached me explaining an important Orthodox holiday was approaching. He asked if there was a possibility to use Classic facilities on a Saturday to provide an event (BBQ and social gathering) to celebrate the holiday.”
Seaward continued: “He had a plan to invite members of his community, as well as Classic Freight staff and his fellow drivers. We agreed to the use of our facilities and I accepted his invitation to attend and enjoyed it very much. Toward the end of the event I received his heartfelt thanks. Everyone who attended benefitted from the driver’s desire to share his culture and hospitality in his new country.”
Seaward pointed out foreign drivers deal with many challenges domestically and culturally, as well as in their profession. Classic has specific expectations for professional drivers, but they keep in mind that communication with those drivers may not be clearly understood. Sending simple satellite messages, Seward said, may not be entirely effective. When English is a second or third language, follow up communication can help the driver to understand the message completely and be able to fulfill the needed actions. Making the effort to communicate effectively and considering cultural challenges when dealing with foreign workers goes a long way to helping those workers excel
Employer of Choice
THRSC-Atlantic took the opportunity of the late winter conference to present Employer of Choice certifications. Employer of Choice is a program which recognizes employers who are dedicated to responding to the needs of their employees, and to build a productive, efficient and safe workplace.
The EOC program was envisioned and developed by the Atlantic Canada trucking industry, and it recognizes employers who are endorsed by their employees as an Employer of Choice. The Employer of Choice program uses a multilevel approach to provide employers the opportunity to gather insight from employees in five key areas of their operation: Communication, Culture, Creating Rewards, Competitive Practices and Connection.
Employee input is gathered by a survey offered to every employee in the business. The feedback provides an employer a clear picture on what employees value and helps build an HR business plan by responding to the interests and needs of a workforce.
EOC certification is awarded for a three year term, and after the period companies must conduct another employee survey in order to meet re-certification. The 2017 re certified Employer of Choice includes Eassons Transportation Group, Clarke Road Transport, Atlantic Pacific Transport, Tom MacDonald Trucking, Armour Transportation Systems, Classic Freight Systems, Keltic Transportation, Salvatore Insurance, SLH Transport, Atlantica, Nova Truck Centres, OSCO Ready Mix, J&C Ventures, Morley Annears Trucking, Midland Transport, and Connors Transfer. New EOC companies for the 2017–2020 period are Seafood Express and Auction Transport Services Ltd..
Easson’s Transport initially became EOC certified in 2011, and marked their second recertification in 2017. Trevor Bent, CEO Eassons, shared that they had adapted the EOC survey to an online format, which makes it very accessible and convenient for their employees to participate. Employee survey response levels have been in excess of 25%, which is considered a very respectable engagement level.
Over the years, Eassons has used the ‘EOC’ employee feedback to institute changes to their practices. One particular indication from an EOC survey suggested the need for increased supervisor training. Bent explained that Eassons made the investment in supervisor training, and it generated a direct benefit for drivers and overall operations.
Bent continued that their clients may not necessarily recognize the EOC designation, or completely understand the brand’s significance. He is assured that clients reap the benefits of the EOC designation in the business culture that Eassons delivers. Employ of Choice makes Eassons business stronger and clients are attracted to Eassons, in part, as a result of EOC program.
“Our Vision is to be a ‘Preferred Corporate Performer with Family Values’. The EOC process has helped us keep focused on ensuring that our family values are at the forefront, and through them we will reach our organizational goals” commented Bent. “Our Mission is ‘Delivering value to our Customer and Employee partners’. The EOC represents the level of engagement we feel is necessary to meet the needs of both our internal and external partners.”☚