We work hard to attract, develop and retain the best talent in the industry. Yet, employee turnover is an ongoing issue, largely because of improvements in the U.S. economy. As the economy continues to rebound, the highly skilled and certified professionals that make up our workforce – truck drivers, route managers and maintenance technicians – are in demand. Because engaged, experienced employees are integral to safety and operational excellence, we are aiming to reduce driver and fleet technician new-hire turnover by 50 percent.
Being an employer of choice is critical to this effort, which begins with ensuring that we embody our values of honesty, accountability, safety, professionalism, respect, inclusion, diversity and employee empowerment in every action. For example, communication among company leaders and employees at all levels fosters honesty, accountability and respect. Our senior leaders operate with an open door – and open email – policy. Each quarter, this team hosts a Town Hall-style meeting at our Houston headquarters. We have begun expanding participation throughout our operations through live streaming technology. Employees unable to attend also are invited to submit questions by email, and they receive direct responses. Responses to common questions are often included in our company’s weekly internal newsletter. In addition, a replay of the meeting is posted on the company’s intranet.
We emphasize engagement as a way to empower employees. Our Waste Management Drivers Council, for example, captures the wisdom of our front-line employees, who are represented by 17 drivers, one from each market area in the organization. In addition to providing us with feedback on removing barriers that prevent drivers from delivering exceptional customer service, we also have engaged the Council for ideas to help reduce voluntary turnover and promote the retention of drivers and technicians.
We are committed to fair treatment of all employees, so we strive to apply company policies consistently throughout the organization. For our union employees, this goal must be handled within the practices and expectations agreed to within the collective bargaining unit. For non-union employees, we also look for ways to reinforce our fair treatment and continuous-learning culture. Some of the ways we do so are through our Driver and Route Manager Councils; the engagement between employees and managers as part of our Service Delivery Optimization (SDO) program; our Peer Review safety program; and the fair treatment and respect that comes from the adherence to our Code of Conduct.