It’s no secret that, as we enter what might be looking like a post-pandemic phase, the job market is expanding in nearly every industry from technology and retail to production and agriculture. As people rethink personal and family priorities and consider their health, safety, and professional futures, many employment shifts are taking place as people decide where and how they return to the workforce.
And, as people decide whether or not to return at all, competition across organizations has never been fiercer.
While it may be common that wages alone are what drive a school bus driver to stay in their position, there can be many other pieces that resonate with people in different ways, each with the potential to increase professional happiness, drive productive energy, and increase workplace engagement.
Let’s Talk About Turnover
So if we set wages aside and focus on how turnover costs affect your organization, it’s important to consider how (and what) your turnover rate is costing you in the long run. A study by Glassdoor estimates that the average company spends $4,000 on the hiring of a new employee. These costs include advertising, job fair events, human resource assistance, training, and more. That’s a significant amount of money to factor into already stretched school and state budgets that are now having to accomplish more with even less.
In the school transportation industry, it’s critical to focus on the drivers who show up to work every day. Simply put, focus on minimizing your turnover – it’s more efficient to retain a quality school bus driver than it is to recruit, train, and orient a new driver, even of the same caliber.
A sustainable employee retention plan usually contains a combination of well-budgeted, low-cost, and non-monetary strategies that will help guide efforts to combat turnover, boost morale, and maintain employee focus. Creating and adhering to a comprehensive retention program plays a vital role in achieving your driver staffing goals by both attracting and retaining key employees, as well as reducing turnover and its related costs.
Making Employment Meaningful
TransPar’s managers have invested a lot of creative time and energy into making their driver appreciation efforts meaningful, with the genuine goal of improving the working lives of those drivers so they can better carry out the mission of the school district.
At our operation with Bethlehem Area School District in Pennsylvania, our manager Jenny Robinson hosts “Coffee with Jenny” where all drivers dial in virtually and have the opportunity to speak directly to her about that week’s situations, concerns, or wins.
A recent Gallup study showed that highly engaged workplaces saw a 41% lower absenteeism rate. And the reason for this isn’t new. Disengaged workers take less responsibility and ownership of their attitude, behavior, and motivation – which drains overall productivity.
Being heard is engagement. Talking about issues is engagement. Managers taking the time to listen, consider, and guide is one of the most impactful ways to build a sense of engagement and is the easiest way to tap into critical information that will help both your recruitment and retention efforts.
Your Strongest Asset is the Drivers You Already Have
It’s essential that leaders in our industry embrace the paramount importance of preparation, creativity, and flexibility when it comes to their school bus driver workforce. Retainment of quality drivers is a strong first step in the achievement of driver staffing goals, but what has worked in the past may not work as easily now.
Putting our attention on things we can control, like retention methods and approaches, has allowed us to not only show appreciation to our driving staff for their efforts during the pandemic – but permits us to control and navigate opportunities in rethinking workspace culture and growing efficiency initiatives back to pre-COVID levels.