Finding/Keeping
Attracting and Retaining the Best Drivers
Laura Alberts
Human Resources Manager
Western Disposal
October 2, 2008
[email protected]
A little about my Company –
Western Disposal

Private

In business for 38 years

Operate in Boulder County primarily

120 employees total

Half (60) are Drivers

Dramatically reduced driver turnover and
increased new hire quality in recent years…

Even very different organizations will hopefully
gain some useable ideas
(30 miles north of Golden)
Turnover History

1999 – Over 80%


2006 – 8%



54 route terminations
Just 5 route terminations
Best ever
2008 – year to date 11%
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
43%
40%
29%
22%
13%
10%
8%
13%
1999 – A Wake Up Call

A VERY bad year for route turnover

Revolving door of new hires


50 route terminations total

40 with <1 year of service

half (20) of those in 1st 30 days !

We were filling a job 3-4 times before achieving a good fit
(revolving door)

Most terminations were involuntarily
Something was wrong!
Today

Average Driver tenure is 6.8 years

Average tenure all employees = 8.9 years

> 50% have six or more years of service

22% with 11-23 years
How we approached problem

Acknowledged we must be the problem.

Stopped attributing problem to new generations
of workers or the general decline of quality
applicants.

Stopped rationalizing that turnover didn’t cost
much if it happened early.

Decided to come at problem from every angle.
Every Angle
Sourcing
 Screening
 Interviewing
 Selection
 Orientation
 Training
 Rewards
 Recognition
 Discipline

The only thing we did
 Pay
not change
(and benefits)

Yes, Western has always paid above what we
determine to be “market average”.

But that didn’t keep us from having 80%
turnover in 1999.

Nor do we think it was a factor in our achieving
just 8% turnover in 2006. That happened
without change to pay and benefits structure
or strategy.
Sourcing

Before and since 1999, employee referrals
have been our #1 source of candidates.

But our culture didn’t always reinforce that
referrals should be of high quality.

Starting 2000, we explicitly communicated this to
employees as part of the highly-visible changes
to the hiring process. It worked.

We opted not to use referral bonuses, wanting
pride, not money, to drive referrals.
More on Employee Referrals

Applicants get most information about Western and
culture from their employee contacts.

Our employees communicate that Western is a nononsense, high control culture with high expectations.

But if you make the grade, you get a lot in return.

Since 2000, only 2 post-offer positive drug screens.
No failures in employment eligibility vetting.
Other Sourcing

When using ads, we’ve recently concluded
the following:

Use both internet and print ads



Some excellent recent new hires have come from
internet
But there is still a subset of applicant pool that is not
computer savvy and prefers print ads
We would not have some good people if we
restricted ourselves
Screening

Helter-skelter -- Applications used to go to HR or any one
of 5 route supervisors depending on how it came in the
door.

With 2000 hiring improvement initiative, all applications
came through HR, no exceptions.

HR carefully screened and kept pool of “most qualified” or
“pre-qualified” applicants.

Often turned away applications for incompleteness or asked
that it be redone.

Any checking that could legally be done pre offer was done
(MVRs in particular).
Interviewing/Selection

Interview Drivers like Executives

Before:





Interviews were briefer, more casual
Incomplete applications were accepted
One person (usually route supervisor) interviewed and
made the hiring decision
Sometimes made hiring decision after just 1 acceptable
interview
After:




3 interviews (HR and 2 route supervisors)
More formal, each person asks specific questions
Interview 2-4 candidates whenever possible
3 interviewers make hiring decision together (face-to-face)
Setting Expectations

Human Resources interview in particular stressed
culture and expectations.

In addition to questions about candidate’s work
behaviors, very clear communications about our high
expectations.

Supervisors cover culture in interviews too, but this us
mainly an HR job. We (myself and another HR staff
person who speaks decent Spanish) ten to err on side
of overstating what may be fit issues.

Under sell; over deliver. Happier employees.
Vetting

Post-offer drug screen (D.O.T. physical and drug screen
timing depend on starting job)

Criminal background checks

Reference checks – past two positions driver or not
(plus D.O.T. reference check where applicable)

Social Security and Basic Pilot Program verification
within 72 hours of hire
Orientation and Training

1st days and weeks, employees get a lot of
face time




route supervisor
relief driver
other senior driver
Also, training videos and safety sessions...
hands on exposure
Orientation and Training

In past, almost always hired as Helpers (even
experienced drivers) and internally trained before
promoting to driving positions.

Automation has made this more difficult (only 2 Helper
positions), but we still adhere to philosophy.

Even most highly experienced Drivers must go through
our training program before taking wheel of Western
vehicle.
Safety

As turnover declined, frequency and severity of
injuries and vehicular accidents also declined.

This also happened as we converted more routes
to automation but retention considered equal
contributor.

Increased automation allows workers to stay in
driving positions longer.

Drivers attend pre-shift safety training meetings
every other week.
Operations Department
Accident Statistics
2000 - 2005
Accidents per Million Miles
50
40
40
38
30
26
20
19
10
15
13
0
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
Operations Department
Injury Statistics
2000-2005
Injuries per 200,000 Hours
70
60
65
50
40
30
31
20
33
30
21
10
11
0
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
Driver Tools and Resources

Western invested heavily in technology in
early 2000’s. Giving Drivers tools that
made their jobs easier contributed to
reduced turnover.




Bar-code scanners
Symbol vs. word maps
GIS and GPS technology
Western’s investment in technology has
paid off both in terms of retention and
profitability.
Incentive Pay – Carrot or Stick?


Incentive Pay

Probably a stick... but we present as a carrot.

Huge success - greatly reduced absenteeism and tardiness.
Base Rate plus two $1.00 per hour incentives. Incentives
are automatically earned unless infraction occurs:

Any instance of absence or tardiness for which 7-day advance
notice is not given

Non-judgmental way to curb attendance issues... simply a
consequence

Someone who is absent or tardy without 7-day notice earns $2
less per hour up to 40 hours and $3 less per overtime hour. A
powerful incentive.
Incentive Pay

Other infractions that result in loss of one or both incentives

Customer complaints

Misses

Equipment abuse

Route check violation

any number if things from non-use of PPE to not following manifest
and map, etc...

On average only 4 (range: 0 –15) route employees lose one
or both incentives each week

Virtually no complaints about application of incentive pay
system
Discipline in General


All policies are written with consistency in mind but
language that allows variation when needed

When ______ happens, Western will generally respond
by ______ ...

However, response will always be decided on case-bycase basis with consideration of circumstances. No
single decision will serve as precedent other decisions.
We strive for consistency but make full use of caseby-case management discretion. We don’t try to fit all
cases to single policy. Rather apply common sense as
much as possible.
High Expectations... new employee

Keep communicating and reinforcing high
expectations... especially early on

Quick to end it if it looks like there is not a fit... be
sure, document the facts, but also trust the intuitive
judgment of our highly experienced supervisors

Be tough and consistent but also empathetic in real
times of employee need (thus the case-by-case
decisions in all policy enforcement)

Expect a lot and when it is earned give a lot back
Rewards

Employee Favorite
Employee Appreciation lunches – simple and for no
particular reason. 4 – 5 per year
Annual Safety Kickoff Breakfast
Route Supervisors Prepare and Serve Food
Rewards

Safe Driver Award

Awarded to employees in driving position from January 1
through December 31 who have NO accidents.

An accident is anytime a vehicle makes contact with another
object or vehicle. We make no exceptions... backing into a
mailbox... it could be a child on a bike.

Award = $100 (net) for each consecutive year of safe driving.




largest award ever given $1,700 for 17 consecutive years of safe
driving
last year – 38 safe drivers, award ranged from $100 to $1,300
Awards given at banquet with spouses attending. Gifts of clothing,
watches, etc. are also given.
It is a big deal.
KIKO SALOMON
13
FRED FLORES
10
JOEY WOMBOLDT
10
MARIO PINEDA
9
PHIL WEBER
8
DIMAS SILVA
7
EMILIO RIVERA
6
JORGE ESTRADA
6
PEDRO PARGAS
6
ANTONIO DELAHOYA
6
ADOLFO HERRERA
5
ALEX PAREDES
5
DANIEL NIETO
5
JEFF ROMERO
5
PEPE DESANTIAGO
5
SCOTT DAWSON
5
JOSE OLGUIN
4
ALVARO DELACRUZ
3
TROY HOLMES
3
LUIS ORONA SR
2
LUKE BEAM
2
RUDY DELGADO
2
RALPH ESCOBAR
2
Safe
Driver
2007
LORENZO CHAVIRA
1
LUIS DIAZ
1
FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ
1
CYP MALDONADO
1
VICENTE MARTINEZ
1
DANIEL SARABIA
1
MIKE TURNER
1
SIMON URIBE
1
CLEMENTE VALENCIA
1
ALAN SARTIAGUIN
1
In
Conclusion:
What
leads
to
happy
Drivers?
Review of Key Points

Pay is less important than we all tend to think in attraction
and retention

Adherence to a detailed screening, interviewing and
orientation process is critical

Identify your culture and values and communicate it in
everything you do

Clarify your expectations and keep them high

Apply policies and discipline consistently... but be open to
case-by-case variations

Consider incentive pay

Reward – the simple things go a long way
Descargar

Finders/Keepers - Colorado SWANA