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Purpose-driven employment – Hiring for the mobility jobs of tomorrow

Paul Comfort, VP of Business Development, Trapeze Group

The transit world has a compelling message to attract purpose-driven employees: we are assisting in the mobility of society. We are helping the environment, partnering to build sustainable and smart cities, and innovating faster than almost any other industry. We have an exciting agenda that lifts those who need help, such as people who have disabilities or lower income, while at the same time producing rock-solid economic development benefits, such as getting commuters to work and customers to shop, and reducing congestion by taking cars off the road.

Today’s workforce requires more than the traditional pay-and-benefits discussion with applicants. Employees also want meaningful work in a conducive environment and a career plan that includes development and opportunities for advancement. This used to be enough to attract great talent. But newer generations, born after 1980, want to know that the business they work for is doing good for society. They want to know your agency’s purpose and how it ties into their desired meaning in life and work. Many want their vocation intertwined with their avocation.

The changing of the guard via purpose-driven employment

“Today’s millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and its contribution to society as they are in its products and profits,” said Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global, in a LinkedIn study titled Purpose – A Practical Guide. Many millennial employees put their money where their heart is by taking a job with lower pay if it means they can work for a company that makes a positive impact on people’s lives and society.

Generation Z (Gen Z), which refers to people born after 1997, are also now entering the workforce. The latest statistics show that this cohort will make up 32% of the global population in 2019. That’s a big generation. Gen Z has never known a non-digital world (“What’s a landline?”) and they have grown up amid events such as the "war on terror" and after the global recession. And they are constantly online.

Both millennials and Generation Z want purpose-driven employment.

Getting the most out of your workforce investment

There are 3 core elements to define purposeful employment: show these generations our work’s impact on others; design their jobs to have personal development; and show how they can deliver their work through relationships. First identify these power positions to intrigue potential recruits and then put them into practice to retain them.

What will transit’s future workforce look like?

Transit agency jobs are changing to make way for new technologies and the new workforce. New bus-operator jobs may make way for autonomous shuttle stewards or brand ambassadors, as is happening in places like Switzerland and Las Vegas. Customer service representatives are now often becoming social media voices responding to customer complaints via Twitter or Facebook. When all is said and done, providing these new generations with purpose-driven employment will overcome any technology or innovation changes within the transit industry. Remember the power of public transit and what it means to your riders. If that doesn’t provide them with purpose, I don’t know what will.

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