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People First

Talent,
Engagement &
Retention

We continue to strengthen WM as a workplace of choice through competitive pay, excellent benefits for long-term financial and personal health, a safe and accessible work environment, opportunities for growth and a focus on sustainability.

Employee turnover continues to be a concern in the environmental services industry due to high demand in a strong economy for skilled workers—especially truck drivers, route managers and maintenance technicians. We also compete against other industries for certain talent, such as the oil and gas industry for engineers in our renewable energy facilities.

By promoting from within and offering a wide variety of training opportunities, WM helps employees maximize their effectiveness and grow in their careers.

WM is committed to providing a living wage to all employees, which is defined as the minimum pay received for the basic number of working hours to ensure coverage of workers’ and their families’ basic needs. During the pandemic, we also guaranteed all full-time hourly employees’ pay for a 40-hour work week, regardless of COVID-19-related service decreases.

WM is committed to fair treatment of all employees. With 9,026 union employees in the U.S. and Canada—19% of our workforce—this commitment is met according to the practices and expectations agreed to within the collective bargaining unit. For non-union employees, we look for ways to reinforce our fair treatment and continuous learning culture.

Engagement Through Communication

Communication between company leaders and employees at all levels fosters honesty, accountability and respect, all of which are critical to employee retention. Each quarter, senior leaders host a town hall-style meeting that covers a variety of topics, available to all employees via live-streaming technologies. Employees unable to attend can submit questions by email and view a replay on our intranet and our employee mobile app, WM Now.

WM Now is a one-stop shop for all things WM, making critical information available for field employees who may not have access to a desktop computer at work. This includes COVID-19 safety updates; access to employee benefits and our employee handbook; episodes of “The Route,” our internal podcast; employee engagement efforts; and stories from across the company. We were pleased to achieve our goal of 80% adoption of the app within 10 months and adoption by our new team members from ADS in less than six months. Analytics tell us which features employees find most useful, and we use those insights, as well as qualitative feedback, to further refine the WM Now experience.

Bar chart showing our voluntary employee turnover rates (percentage) from 2017 through 2020
Bar chart showing our employee turnover rates from 2017 through 2020

WM also has a weekly internal newsletter with stories on employee safety, leader communications, potential job hazards, employee successes, updates on benefits and career opportunities and more. Every quarter, answers to questions that were not addressed during the live-streamed town hall are included in the newsletter, which is distributed by email, posted in lunchrooms and available through WM Now. Communication is a two-way street, so we regularly gather input from employees on how we can improve. Throughout 2020, we solicited feedback through informal conversations with leadership and voluntary pulse surveys. These surveys inform not only strategic priorities, but also let us know which communication channels employees find most useful.

I embraced the schedule change and it worked.
It has improved my lifestyle in many ways.”

William (Doug) McGhee, Technician

Reimagining the Workday

For many, the pandemic opened the door to new ways to work. While WM’s frontline workers did not have the option to work remotely, changes in our volumes, as well as a recognition of the high levels of turnover among this segment of our workforce, presented an opportunity to do things differently to improve workers’ quality of life.

Many of our operations technicians work overnight to ensure that collection trucks are ready to begin their routes each day. This schedule presents communication challenges between day and night shift workers whose paths never cross. Managers at the Southern West Virginia and Charleston Hauling sites decided to try a different approach. By using staggered start times, they enabled all technicians to work during the day. Once all technicians at a site spent a few hours per day working side by side, morale began to improve. Managers had better oversight of their teams’ performance and could more easily offer coaching when needed. The new schedules also improved the level of truck maintenance in our rotational fleet. Employees have cited better quality of life, increased ability to spend time with family and better relationships with fellow technicians as benefits of this new approach. Since the success of the program at the two West Virginia facilities, day shifts have expanded to 60% of our maintenance facilities, with plans for a transition across all operations.

Creating Employment Opportunities for All

WM is also growing our workforce by increasing the pool of candidates from which we recruit. Through the Innovative Employment Pathways (IEP) program, WM and our partners are creating a new pipeline of talent for our business—while helping to chart a new course to change lives. IEP is a recruitment program that provides second-chance employment opportunities to overlooked and underserved community populations, including those who have experienced homelessness, displacement, incarceration and significant employment gaps. Together with leading partner organizations specializing in job readiness programs, we are casting a wider net to reach nontraditional applicants.

The program begins with core training for all participants and a survey to determine what skills individuals bring and what additional training they might need. Participants then attend a “welcome day” at a WM facility where they learn more about the program and a typical day on the job. If they choose to enroll in IEP, individuals spend 90 days working as helpers, sorters and laborers at WM materials recovery facilities (MRFs). During this period, they learn more about possible career paths as drivers, technicians and customer service representatives. After the 90-day period, IEP participants may have the opportunity to transition from temporary to permanent positions at WM. Following initial pilots in Dallas and Chicago, we are expanding IEP in 2021 with plans to be active in at least five market areas or regions by the end of 2021, with the goal of activation at 80% of our facilities and 1,000 participants obtaining work experience by 2025.

Welcoming ADS
to the WM Team

In October 2020, WM completed its acquisition of Advanced Disposal Systems (ADS), a waste disposal, collection and recycling services provider.

With this acquisition, WM gained access to new customers and supporting infrastructure in 16 eastern and midwestern U.S. states.

An undertaking of this size carried significant risks, and our successful integration is the result of more than a year of preparation. We shared pertinent information with our Legal and Development teams, as well as with the U.S. Department of Justice. WM then developed integration and migration plans for the company as a whole and for area integration teams at the local level.

Post-acquisition, we worked on integrating WM’s and ADS’s routes and customer networks. We relied on technology including geo-coding, mapping and proprietary algorithmic software to overlay our assets and preemptively address any challenges.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the integration process, however, was the onboarding of 5,000 legacy ADS employees to the WM team. One of the first steps in this process was a focused effort to understand the cultural similarities and differences between ADS and WM. We conducted surveys in advance of the acquisition’s official closing date, which allowed us to develop a game plan including welcome packets, events and other informational resources. As a result of this work, WM developed a new “day one” experience framework for employees that we will deploy during future acquisitions. New-employee training took place through early 2021, and we now have a fully integrated team that is nearly 50,000 members strong.

Voluntary Employee Turnover Rates (%)

Employee Turnover Rates