The inaugural Workforce Builders Conference (WFBCON) was held June 28–30, 2016, at the Westin Indianapolis. WFBCON is the first conference of its kind for the truckload industry. Throughout the conference, which took place over three packed days, I saw several panels and speakers. Each offered unique knowledge and insights about the respective topics it covered, but there were a few items that really stood out.
Keynote speaker Patty Cox, a former LinkedIn executive and current Adjunct Professor at Northwood University, spoke about trends in recruiting and retention. Throughout the course of her talk, she placed an emphasis on social media and how to market to Millennials, two growing and yet still relatively untapped resources for the trucking industry. Her main points were centered around the need to augment the traditional efforts for recruiting and retention that have been successful with Baby Boomers and Gen X drivers with methods that will reach the younger generation of drivers.
Another topic covered at the conference that I thought particularly beneficial for carriers and attendees was the carrier/school summit. The discussion centered around the challenges of recruiting good candidates into schools and keeping them in the industry once they complete their training and courses.
Over the three days, there were also several breakout sessions. Each had either a panel of speakers or an executive from a carrier and a representative from a sponsor organization. The breakouts included four options at any given time:
1. HR/Legal/Health and Wellness
4. Fleet Management
Focus on Millennials
I primarily attended the Recruiting and Retention breakouts. The big push in these meetings was the changing job market and talent pool of the trucking industry, and discussions of how to adjust marketing and recruiting strategies in order to reach Millennials. The consensus was clear: marketing to Millennials requires a very different approach than that of previous generations. The avenues for reaching them are much more social media—based than traditional job postings, and the messages that resonate with them differ greatly from those used for Gen X and Boomers.
How to Recruit, Hire, and Retain Great People
One particularly interesting breakout was a motivational talk (“How to Recruit, Hire, and Retain Great People”) by Kelly L. Johnson, MBA, PhD. He discussed the psychological factors that play a part in the process. During his talk, he provided helpful insights, as well as interesting and outside-the-box ideas for what carriers can do to attract the best drivers.
Overall, this first year for the conference was a big success, and I expect that future years will be even better. Over the days I was there, there were some invaluable presentations on topics critical to various aspects of the trucking industry, as well as time for collaborative discussions between carriers. The topics covered in the events and panels we mentioned here are just a few of those we feel would be particularly advantageous for carriers of any size. For the carriers who missed the conference this year, we would definitely recommend that you make sure to set aside the time to attend this event next year!