The world’s largest grocery retailer pulls out the checkbook to put down $10,000 in hiring bonuses to recruit the drivers who will help it swallow up its competitors.
“We started with a $5,000 bonus. We’ve climbed to $10,000 in the last few months. […] If you extrapolate it, it’s a good $5 more an hour at the end of the year,” said Sylvain Boudreau, Sysco’s Vice President of Operations – Quebec.
To get the $10,000, you have to complete a probationary period, explains Marie-Claude Pilon, Vice-President, Human Resources – Quebec.
“This is a Quebec region initiative,” said the executive, who convinced the parent company that the game was worth the candle.
The sequel proves him right. A good dozen riders have lured it in since the $10,000 inception, but the giant would like five times more.
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Sysco is the world’s largest food retailer with almost 65,000 employees in 350 distribution centers. The mastodon weighs nearly $58 billion in the stock market.
In Quebec, the Houston, Texas-based giant has its headquarters in Boucherville with 125 drivers and 125 order pickers, in addition to the twenty or so drivers at its Quebec office.
With the deconfinement, the overcrowded terraces forced Sysco to work twice as hard to satisfy restaurateurs’ appetites. So the American company had to show its teeth in order to find new employees.
At Sysco, delivery drivers, who earn an average of $30 an hour, not only drive their vehicles, they also have to unload their cargo at the schools where they deliver the food.
“We want female candidates. […] Just because it’s physical labor doesn’t mean women can’t do it. On the contrary, we can see it,” emphasizes Sylvain Boudreau.
Need 2000 to 4000 drivers
According to the Quebec Trucking Association (ACQ), the industry needs 2,000 to 4,000 truckers, a number that could grow to 10,000 within five years.
“Taking all categories together, 30,000 jobs will be filled by 2025, of which 14,000 will be related to the growth of the sector and 16,000 to retirements,” specifies ACQ chief Marc Cadieux.
“You have to differentiate between an entry premium and companies that already recognize the current inflation. What counts is what’s left in your pocket at the end of the year,” he emphasizes when asked about the attractiveness of hiring bonuses.
At the Association of Professional Drivers of Quebec (ARPQ), its Director General, Francis Rouleau, also notes the extent of the overbidding.
“This is the first time I’ve heard about a $10,000 bonus. It’s often more than $2,000 or $2,500. Even at the small carrier level, we see this a lot,” he notes.
For Benoit Therrien, President of Truck Stop Québec, you have to be creative to attract the new generation of drivers.
“Now even the best companies are offering bonuses because in most cases they have +/- 15% staff shortages,” he concludes.
- According to Trucking HR Canada, nearly 18% of truck drivers in the country are millennials.