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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJune 13 - June 19, 2018

Hiring Smart: Making the Change

Millenials cfa70By Randall C. Resch

What changes can you make to your company's attractability to meet the needs of today's emerging generations?

In today's market of technology, higher education and specialization, towing and recovery is destined to fall short like all other hands-on trades. Accordingly, there must be some kind of creativity in hiring, or tow companies will suffer. While it may sting a little to meet the change, it's something tow owners should openly evaluate for their future.

"Forbes" magazine estimates a full 86 million millennials will fill the workplace by 2020. That number represents an estimated 40 percent of the total working population.

Work values and expectations differ for sure. As far as millennials are concerned, consider these four expectations:

1. Millennials want shared responsibility. Millennials have a sense of entitlement looking for opportunities to advance. Does your company provide employees a chance to take on responsibility and find success on a micro level before moving on to larger roles? Can you offer potential growth?

2. Support for work and life balance. Millennials describe an unwillingness to sacrifice off-work time or to make other lifestyle compromises in return for pay. They argue that they've watched their boomer parents delay happiness in return for career advancement; a concept they're not willing to accept for themselves. For them, career satisfaction must be nearly instant.

3. Let them work for an ethical organization. If run in a proper and acceptable manner, your tow company should be recognized in your community as competent, professional and ethical.

4. Millennials seek ongoing feedback. Management should provide open communications via an open-door policy offering frequent face-to-face contact between employee and employer.

Millennials also have simple expectations:

• 72 percent would like to be their own boss. If they must work for a boss, 79 percent would want their boss to serve more as a skills coach or mentor. While I like the idea of mentorship, this industry demands applicants who are self-starters and capable of producing with minimal supervision.

• 88 percent prefer a collaborative work culture, rather than a competitive one, by balancing focus and partnership. They're geared toward working on individual tasks and gathering with colleagues to brainstorm and interact in a group setting. However, for small tow companies with one dispatcher and a few tow operators, working separately and alone is the industry's nature. Rarely are there opportunities to collaborate except for special projects or employee safety meetings.

• 74 percent want flexible work schedules. The towing and recovery work environment is based on 24/7 availability; flexible schedules are difficult based on minimal staffing requirements of contracts and accounts.

• 64 percent desire to make the world a better place. While that's a noble consideration, our industry's service is oftentimes challenged for necessity, ethics and professionalism.

• 88 percent want "work-life integration," which isn't the same as work-life balance, since work and life for (them now) blend together intimately.
Don't Follow the Leader

I've watched tow owners follow the path of others with stifled pay because that's what the competition does. While that may be a solid practice to follow by testing the waters, there's nothing wrong with developing a pay and benefits packet that's better than what the competition is paying. Offering higher pay and benefits is a way to attract potential employees.

Obviously, your company's good reputatiton should precede itself, and be backed by favorable reasons to come to work. Because the workforce now sees baby boomers leaving and other generations gaining momentum, there's got to be new strategies in meeting their needs.

To learn what the emerging workforce desires may be key to creative hiring for the future. Understanding these needs are crucial for tow companies wishing to grow. If the industry doesn't change and adapt to meet the desires of these emerging generations, tow businesses are destined to flounder and die.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, and is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame.
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