Charlie Charalambous has many years of experience in risk management, education and working with transportation fleets across Canada. Charlie is the Coordinator, Research and Stakeholder & Public Relations (Transportation) at the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA). An industry advocate, Charlie dedicates a lot of his time with different associations. He is the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Truck Training School Association of Ontario (TTSAO), Conference Chairperson for the Fleet Safety Council (FSC) Annual Educational Conference and Chairperson of the National Recruiting and Retention Symposium (NRRS). Charlie can be reached at (647) 241-1036.

For the last few years it seemed that most discussions I had with other industry professionals would include some reference to the driver shortage. Carriers would talk about the difficulty in finding qualified professional drivers because of this shortage and at the same time explain that they were also seeing high turnover with their drivers. Regardless of the size of the fleet most of them had the same challenges. It always seemed that the solution was to try and recruit drivers the same way they also did, at job fairs, through other drivers, at truck stops etc.

Maybe it’s time to start looking at things a little differently?

Last year, I was happy to be selected as the chairperson of the inaugural National Recruiting and Retention Symposium (NRRS). Working with the team at TransRep our goal was to find speakers that would provide educational content for recruiters and HR professionals in our industry. We all know that there are a wide variety of training programs available for management, drivers, safety professionals, operations etc. but how many programs actually focussed on HR and recruiters? This was our chance to make a difference and provide them with some targeted tools to help them not only find drivers but retain them as well.

In April we launched the NRRS to a sell-out group of delegates in Mississauga and had representation from across North America. There were a lot of lessons learned that day and I wanted to share a few of things that stayed with me:

  • As an industry we make a lot of assumptions when hiring drivers. We think that it’s the same everywhere so why change things up. Companies like Google, Amazon and Netflix all proved that shaking things up can be a good thing. We just need to start thinking outside of the box or else we end up repeating the same cycle over and over again.
  • We should use our internal capital Encourage and empower your employees to come up with new and innovative strategies to recruit and retain drivers. These same employees are with you for a reason, what makes them stay? Tap into that knowledge and use it to help with your quest to find drivers.
  • Develop a brand that works for you. Creating a brand is not a simple task but if you look deep inside your organization you will find one that works for you. The challenge is then to live up to that brand from the top of the organization down. If your brand is really representative of your culture then it will be reflected through your staff and will help to attract and retain new and professional drivers.
  • Be resilient! All of our jobs can be frustrating and stressful, even if you have your dream job there are “going to be days”. How you choose to manage those stressful days is 100% up to you. You can decide to stay negative, which will ultimately lead to more stress and less productivity, or you can be resilient and focus on the positive. Channel that energy into making things better. While this may sound difficult at first it can be as simple as reminding yourself to focus on the positive eventually you will remember. Start by removing the word “stressed” from your vocabulary and replace it with something else. Before you know it, you won’t be able to use that word anymore

Now I know that I am not doing our expert speakers justice with my high-level take-aways but I hope that in reading the points above you will appreciate that by just taking a few steps outside of the norm that you can make a difference. Both personally and professionally change has to start somewhere. Take a chance and step away from the norm. Stop doing what we’ve always done and throw away those misconceptions about the industry.

I was honored to once again be asked to chair the NRRS. I can honestly say that team has accepted the challenge once again to once again find some of the best speakers from both inside and outside of our industry. I can’t wait to see what I walk away with this year after hearing a bestselling author teach me how to crush the competition online or when I learn about some new strategies for investing in my team.  Additionally, this year we’ve also put together two panels and found representation from some of Canada’s best fleets and organizations to educate our delegates on what is working for them. These award-winning organizations are willing to share their best practices with our delegates for the betterment of the industry!

As we get close to the 2nd Annual NRRS I will share more details about our speakers but in the meantime please visit www.transrep.ca/symposium/ if you are interested in learning more.

Remember, don’t be afraid to try something new. Until you take that first steps you don’t know how it is going to turn out.

Charlie Charalambous has many years of experience in risk management, education and working with transportation fleets across Canada. Charlie is the Coordinator, Research and Stakeholder & Public Relations (Transportation) at the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA). An industry advocate, Charlie dedicates a lot of his time with different associations. He is the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Truck Training School Association of Ontario (TTSAO), Conference Chairperson for the Fleet Safety Council (FSC) Annual Educational Conference and Chairperson of the National Recruiting and Retention Symposium (NRRS). Charlie can be reached at (647) 241-1036.

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