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.

Senior Management Leadership Program

As part of our succession planning process and continued commitment to developing talent, we created a leadership program in 2015 to build bench strength at the senior management level. The program includes a series of business-related modules that incorporate classroom instruction, practical projects, leadership assessments with executive coaching, and exposure to the senior leadership team in both formal and informal settings. Components of this program will be integrated with leadership programs that support development and retention of our mid-level leaders.

Learning & Development

The opportunity for every employee to reach their full potential is perhaps the most important way that we can maximize workforce engagement and retention. This is why we provide expansive learning and development solutions to meet the needs of our business and our people, as well as providing coaching, feedback and annual performance reviews on a consistent basis. We believe environmental excellence and compliance are the hallmarks of sustainability and reflect Waste Management’s core values. As such, compliance with applicable regulatory standards and internal policies and procedures is part of the performance review structure for employees. To foster a culture of collaboration, we use daily huddles and regular check-ins to solicit feedback and share information.

Our goal is to provide continual learning opportunities in areas like professional development, sales, leadership, technical training and compliance training. We take a “learner-centric” approach to provide employees with a mix of options. All employees participate in annual training that includes job-specific programs as well as a variety of general professional development trainings. We offer training programs delivered face-to-face, as well as virtually through mobile and online communications. The latter is facilitated through technology that delivers “just-in-time” learning, streamlines the learner’s experience, creates online communities to build collaboration, and provides individualized development plans. The company partners with colleges and credit-granting organizations to provide employees, and, in some cases, their families, with tuition discounts, scholarships, grants, waived fees and customized programs. Our focus is to create a continuous learning culture that drives performance and improves talent.

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Each major Waste Management department conducts job-specific training and development. Some of the most critical positions in the company are fleet technician, driver and customer service professional. Safety is our first priority, so in 2015 we recertified our operations leaders and managers on our company’s safety rules, focusing on different areas depending on role:

  • Drivers focused on optimizing service and operational excellence, with an emphasis on people, process, tools and metrics.
  • Fleet technicians and managers continued to optimize service delivery by focusing on preventive maintenance standards to safely maintain and increase the effectiveness of our fleet.
  • Customer service and sales professionals expanded their knowledge of our services in order to efficiently and helpfully serve our customers.

A more complete overview of the many classes and online training opportunities extended to our employees can be found in our Operations and Workplace Appendices.

Our Waste Management Training Center was developed to standardize driver training and help us work toward a goal of reducing driver and fleet technician new hire turnover and reducing the number of vehicle accidents. The center includes classroom work, interactive computer lab learning, hands-on learning stations, actual and simulated driving, and immediate coaching from our skilled driver trainers. Since 2012, more than 4,000 drivers have trained at the center in intense, two-week sessions. We believe that the Training Center is an element in our continuous improvement in safety metrics, such as Total Recordable Injury Rate and Vehicle Accident Recordable Rate.

Waste Management University


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