One of the biggest challenges we see for sweeping contractors in 2019 is finding, hiring — and then retaining — sweeper operators. Currently, the U.S. unemployment rate hovers around 4% and there are an estimated 7.1 million unfilled job openings in the U.S.
An unfortunate result of this is that decent employees, especially those on the low end of the wage scale who are expected to work nights, are increasingly difficult to find. This is especially true for CDL operators and the shortage in that area has driven more contractors to purchase and operate non-CDL sweepers whenever possible.
In order to hire better sweeper operators and other employees, some contractors have developed programs designed to attract a higher quality of worker. This might include a "bonus" just for coming to work, although these often prove less than successful. Better are programs like longevity bonuses, where an operator receives the bonus only after providing a certain amount of successful work product. Additional performance-based incentives are also possible, not only for new-hires but for your entire sweeper operator workforce.
More contractors these days are tying operator bonuses to lack of customer complaints, for example. Some key these to each individual employee’s effort, although others believe bonuses that combine the work effort of the entire driving team are better since there will be peer pressure among the work force not to ‘screw up.’
Safety bonuses are also an option, especially for not having accidents. However, when considering bonuses based upon safety you want to be sure not to organize the program so it can encourage employees not to report accidents, whether vehicular or injuries on the job.
Many contractors have an employee referral program where current employees receive a bonus after a referred new hire stays on the job a certain amount of time. You’ll want to consider those as well as other ways to ensure your drivers stay with you.
Remember that younger workers tend to have a shorter attention span and so may need a more frequent level of communications. Unlike boomers, they often do better in a company that operates in a transparent manner, so they are aware of how the entire operation is doing. None of the above is a ‘magic bullet,’ but you’ll have better success if you put more thought than usual into your attraction and hiring process.