The trucking industry boomed during the pandemic thanks to a massive increase in online shopping, particularly for larger household items like furniture and TVs. While other industries laid off workers, the struggle for trucking labor has intensified.
In fact, the industry today has approximately 33,000 fewer workers than it did pre-pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The overall shortage is about 80,000 truck drivers, and the deficit is expected to double by 2030, according to the American Trucking Associations.
Fleets will need to reduce the driver shortage by a large amount to stand a chance of meeting the growing demand for freight transport. This can only mean one thing: the work environment for drivers, inside and outside the cab, and the strategies fleets use to attract them to the industry and their companies will have to change.
Who is the Modern Truck Driver?
Today’s truck drivers are quite different from previous generations. Fleets must be aware of changing wants and needs, and then deliver solutions, to beat the competition as recruiting spreads to new battlefields.
When it comes to recruiting the modern truck driver, it’s not just about paying higher salaries or a larger signing bonus (although they certainly help). The overall compensation package and how pay is structured make the biggest difference.
Today’s new fleet of drivers expect to be paid for all job-related functions or time away from home, not just loaded mileage driven. Solutions to this challenge include hourly pay, compensation for dwell time and empty miles, or even paying for training, maintenance, and other functions that subtract from actual drive time.
Beyond compensation, they want a better work-life balance. That means spending more time at home and less time over-the-road chasing long-haul loads. They also want the convenience of modern technology. New recruits expect their fleets to offer easy-to-use apps they can access from personal handheld devices and have a unified in-cab and out-of-cab experience with technology.
Besides making changes to meet the needs of modern truck drivers, fleets must rethink their recruiting and communication strategies to focus on areas that resonate with drivers from all generations and backgrounds. Those strategies will be increasingly focused on three areas:
1. Offer a better work-life balance
This is easier said than done in a dynamic business like trucking, but it is possible by using technology to optimize routes, create more relayed loads, and to ensure that drivers get home multiple times per month, or even weekly or daily.
Other solutions for making drivers feel more connected while away include supplying them with technology that allows them to talk or message with family or friends at work, hands-free, while driving.
Additionally, fleets must be more flexible with PTO and vacation time and make it easy for drivers to get time off to attend important family events.
2. Appeal to all generations of drivers
Fleets have to cast a wider net to recruit drivers of all ages to the profession. Understanding the job attitudes and behavioral differences between younger and older drivers is the best place to start.
Research by Stay Metrics found that Gen Z (born after 1996) cited “not enough home time” as the top reason they leave, but it was the fifth factor for Millennials and older generations. Younger generations also cite career advancement opportunities as an important factor in choosing a workplace. They also want to feel valued and appreciated as an important part of the team.
Even as a lot of workers reach retirement age, there is an opportunity to recruit them as professional drivers. Thirteen percent of retired people are still working or actively looking for work, according to AARP. Carriers can capitalize on this by offering flexible schedules, relayed loads, and part-time gigs.
The Baby Boomer generation, as well as many in Generation X, also prefer more personal interactions through phone calls and email rather than app notifications and text messages. Reaching out to them in their preferred communication manner is essential.
3. Provide updated technology
Providing best-in-class technology is a surefire way to attract new drivers by making their jobs easier and more desirable.
Outdated technology creates friction with drivers, often by preventing effective two-way communication with dispatch. Some driver apps can provide a universal login and unified experience to drivers for accessing tools to review routes, update dispatch, manage paperwork, view pay, and update their status (inside and outside the cab) and more.
Giving drivers what they need, whenever and wherever they need it, improves job satisfaction by helping them organize their workday. The organization also reduces input errors, limits unnecessary back-and-forth messaging, and boosts productivity.
Get Recruiting Right
Maintaining the status quo for driver recruiting will hardly make a dent in the current and projected driver shortage. While sign-on bonuses may get some people in the door, experience shows they do very little for longevity.
Top trucking companies who will be around for the long haul realize that using the latest advancements in technology is essential for building a solid foundation that will improve the driver experience today and for the road ahead.
Download Our Guide
Discover all the tips fleets need to understand what new recruits are looking for and what will keep current drivers on the job in our guide, The Ultimate Guide for Recruiting & Retaining the New Fleet of Drivers.
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