Technical Reports

An Examination of Employee Recruitment and Retention in the U.S. Railroad Industry

  • 01
  • Aug
  • 2007
AUTHOR: Stephen Reinach and Alex Viale
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/RRP-07/01
SUBJECT: Worker Protection, Railroad Employees
KEYWORDS: Recruitment, retention, attrition, railroad employee, workforce, staffing.
ABSTRACT: This report presents findings of a study to better understand the challenges involved in recruiting and retaining qualified U.S. freight railroad employees to (1) replace the large number of employees who recently retired or who will be reaching retirement in the next several years and (2) meet the current and forecasted increase in demand for freight rail transportation service. Representatives from U.S. Class I freight railroads participated in structured interviews and 56 railroad employees, representing 5 different labor unions, participated in focus groups in 3 different cities across the United States. Results suggest that major challenges or barriers to recruiting new railroad employees include railroad work schedules, an incremental pay rate system for some crafts, and finding individuals with the right skill sets for the job. Major challenges to retaining railroad employees include reducing the need to relocate employees, reducing or eliminating furloughs, providing a realistic job preview during the hiring process, and improving work schedules. Despite these challenges, many focus group participants were planning to remain in the industry for their entire careers, were generally satisfied with their jobs, and would recommend the railroad industry to friends and family members.
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