The Changing Role Of HR
Jun 7, 2017

‘œYou can take my factories, burn my buildings, but give me my people and I’ll bring my business right back again.” ‘”Henry Ford

Henry Ford’s moving assembly lines revolutionized manufacturing and changed the way people work. Automation meant the company could produce a complete car every 10 seconds of every working day. Ford was able to cut prices, build a better product, and still make a profit.

But he also recognized that his biggest advantage was his people. He doubled their minimum daily wage to $5 and made sure they had the skills to keep up with the pace of change.

Any time an industry or business faces monumental and rapid change, employees experience them, too’”and the importance of HR intensifies.

Successful fleets today are aligning their organizational goals and HR planning. It is especially true among small fleets: in our 2017 Top Fleet Employer program, 18 of the 48 fleets recognized are small fleets, and 50% of them have an HR lead on staff. While those responsible for HR at the other 50% may not have ‘œHR” in their job title, they’re clearly in charge of HR management.

The HR role has evolved beyond payroll and other administrative tasks and today should be part of your strategic management team, giving a competent manager or executive the insight necessary to link your business goals to recruitment, retention, compensation, and training.

If you want to remain competitive in a changing market, make sure your HR function is evolving along in step. Let’s look at three ways the trucking industry is evolving and how an HR manager can help:

Workforce Demographics

Millennials (employees under 35) are the largest cohort in Canada’s workforce yet baby boomers and Generation X still dominate managerial positions. We are witnessing more generational tension that can negatively impact morale, productivity, and overall workplace culture.

The large number of projected retirements combined with an influx of younger workers means that a lot of young people with limited experience will be taking on management-level positions at an accelerated pace.

Also, our workforce is more diverse than ever as new Canadians, women, and people from a variety of backgrounds enter the industry.

Your HR person can help with approaches to support all of the above, from assessing your workforce demographics to managing your pipeline of talent to helping you build a workplace where all employees feel welcome.


Technology like telematics and automation is putting pressure on fleets to assess their options and determine what will work for them’”meaning an increased focus on data analysis.

New technologies also bring new training requirements. And, as many people are misled about autonomous technologies, we are seeing an urgent need to manage messaging around the continued importance of the driver occupation.

Your HR people can help identify the skills and competencies you need in order to assess new technologies, determine training requirements, and ensure that employees are engaged, informed, and aware of their role in the organization.


Our federal government is committed to amending the Canada Labour Code to provide workers in federally regulated industries the right to request flexible work arrangements from their employers. It is also committed to developing new accessibility legislation that will have impacts on the workplace.

The impending legalization of marijuana will have a significant impact on the workplace, and on the trucking industry in particular. It will have a direct impact on occupational requirements for safety-sensitive positions; human rights; the provision of workplace accommodations; and public perception.

As employers, you need to be educated and armed to address all of the above. When it comes to workplace issues, the assembly line isn’t slowly down. Competent HR managers can help you keep up’”and keep your people on board.

By Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada