Operator Shortages and The Power of Listening

Operator Shortages and The Power of Listening
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Operator Shortages and The Power of Listening
By Jason Perreault, Project Leader

The world is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. With that, transit agencies are working to restore service lines within their respective communities to connect customers to jobs, education, and healthcare. However, the national shortage of bus operators has been a tremendous hurdle for agencies to overcome in restoring those lines of service. At the core of the deficit is poor retention. Agencies are employing various tools to retain high performers, including incentives such as signing and milestone bonuses. These can be effective yet costly tools. However, a cost-effective device exists that will connect leadership with the community and retain operators: Listening. Read on to learn more.

Agencies have a few tools in their recruitment process to incentivize onboarding as an operator, but it isn’t enough in some cases. An agency in the Midwest is staffed at 99.6%; however, the remaining .4% equates to 2,400 service hours lost. The lost hours directly impact the community at large. The attrition is outpacing the onboarding, creating gaps in necessary service. This is where management listening to their operators proves to be a valuable tool. When management takes the opportunity to sit down with their operators to listen to their concerns, understand the current state of the community, and plot a strategic solution, operators will feel as though their agency is listening to them. That creates trust between operator and agency. That trust is a two-fold reward. First, operators are the frontline workers who have their fingers on the raw pulse of the community. They field questions and concerns from customers daily. They have a clear understanding of what the community needs and wants. Second, debriefing with operators allows the agency to retain their operators and simultaneously improve their service utilizing community feedback in real-time.

At TransPro Consulting, we work tirelessly with transit agencies nationwide to address their operator shortages and employee attrition rates. Through strategic planning, employee satisfaction activities, and performance management, we can improve systems and their services, leading to fulfilling careers for operators and their agencies. Listening, that’s the key.