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Bauer Business Focus

Steve Werner On Finding The Right Benefits To Attract The Best Employees

A new study indicates trucking companies that offer retirement insurance are able to hire, and retain, safer drivers than those that don’t.



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Photo of Professor Steve Werner
Amanda G. Sebesta/UH Bauer College of Business
Steve Werner is a professor in the Management Department of the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business.
With Texas’ unemployment rate at 4.2 percent, it’s getting tougher than ever for employers to find, and keep, the skilled workers they need. It’s a particular problem for the trucking industry, where the needed skills can make the difference between life and death. Steve Werner of the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business studied the trucking industry’s problem. The results will soon appear in the journal Human Resources Management. Werner joins Andrew Schneider on this week’s installment of the “Bauer Business Focus” to discuss his findings.


What did you discover in your research on hiring in the trucking industry?

“We discovered that when you provide retirement insurance – either kind, the defined benefit [e.g., traditional pension] or defined contribution [e.g., 401(k)] plan – you would attract people that were more risk averse…One of the things they’re more risk averse in is driving, and so they’re safer drivers.”

What are some other industries where offering retirement insurance might help to attract more-skilled employees and reduce accidents?

“Construction is one. If you look at fatalities, it’s one of the higher level ones. Fishing is another one. So, any industry where safety is a concern, we could tie that to this notion of, ‘Let’s try to attract people that are risk-averse and will perform these safety behaviors.’”

How might less-dangerous industries be able to apply what you’ve learned?

“If you tailor your benefits…you can then tailor it such that these are the people that will help you achieve your long term goals…[If your company is] hiring people to sit in a cubicle all day and you want them to be entrepreneurial and take risks, you don’t want to necessarily attract the risk-averse people. You want people that are risk seeking. And…you’d want to offer things that would attract those types of employees.”

Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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