The driver shortage continues to plague logistics companies worldwide. In the United States, the current shortfall stands at over 80,000—which means that there are some 80,000 jobs to fill. And the situation will only continue to get worse unless trucking companies change their recruiting tactics. According to Bob Costello, economist for the American Trucking Association (ATA), there will be nearly 1 million jobs to fill by 2030. The logistics industry needs to find smart, creative ways to conquer the generation gap in the trucking industry.
For logistics companies, this means that they need to change how they attract new drivers and retain current ones. To do this, you need to consider the younger generations that are entering the workplace and find the best means to interest younger drivers in the industry. The first step might be to change the way that the younger generation perceives the industry. Frame your logistics career opportunity as a tech-driven, growing industry with vast opportunities for advancement.
For younger drivers, technology is important. Most millennial and Gen Z applicants have eschewed the trucking industry because they feel that it’s low-tech and old-fashioned. But high-tech trucks, routing software connected with in-cab telematics and electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) software can entice younger drivers with ongoing technological advancements and can reframe the traditional image of the logistics industry as dusty and behind the times.
While technology is important, factors like hours and working conditions greatly influence the negative perception of the logistics industry as whole and deter young people from viewing it as a viable career.
To get good drivers, it’s a great idea to talk with your current staff. Find out what they like about the job and discuss what they don’t. Driver satisfaction is a key component if you want to retain your veterans and hire quality new candidates.
The good news is that the youngest demographic, Gen Z, has markedly different job requirements than their millennial counterparts. The Next Generation in Trucking program, created to inspire younger drivers to join the industry, did a study to discover what Gen Z wanted in a job. Lindsey Trent, the head of the program, stated that most of Generation Z doesn’t want college loan debt, which they have seen their parents and millennial counterparts struggle with. That means that they are willing to enter the workforce immediately after high school to avoid it.
Current regulations restrict anyone younger than 21 from acquiring a CDL. However, the ATA has started a pilot program to allow a small group of young drivers to haul interstate freight which is part of the $1 trillion infrastructure package currently in Congress. While this alone isn’t enough to solve the driver shortage, giving a young person their first job could ensure long-term loyalty.
Attracting millennials and Gen Z to trucking requires new approaches. If your firm wants to get quality young applicants, you need to leverage new recruiting strategies. Also, ask your current team if they have any personal referrals—perhaps they have a son, daughter, or friend that would love to join your crew. Below are some of the best methods to find young candidates:
According to Fleet Owner magazine, top fleet executives surveyed their drivers and presented the results at the NPTC’s (National Private Truck Council) annual meeting. While the answers are common sense, they are also imperative for logistics companies that want to hire new drivers and retain current ones. The drivers stated that they wanted better pay, better technology and equipment, and better work/life balance.
Trucking companies are providing outstanding pay and signing bonuses right now in an effort to get qualified candidates. The ATA states that wages are rising five times as high as they have in past years. In fact, the average starting pay for long-haul drivers is around $60,000. However, simply raising driver pay may not be enough. Most drivers have stated that they do want to be home more so offering flexible shifts like a two-weeks on, two-weeks off schedule, can give your drivers a more family-friendly lifestyle.
It’s wise to ensure that you have a solid benefits program in place, and give incentives to drivers for safe driving, or for completing additional training.
Paying for CDL fees and training might also help get new candidates in the door because financial limitations can be a barrier for truck drivers just getting started in the industry. While that would cost your company a bit of an investment in the beginning, it is crucial to the younger generations that they feel valued—so getting them the training they need shows that you’re willing to invest in them.
Some trucking companies offer unique incentives and benefits to attract new talent. These perks include zero-tuition CDL training programs, pet-friendly trucks, no-cost rider policies and 401K plans.
More than any of the other generations before them, millennials and Gen Z value technology. They fully expect to use new tech both in their personal lives and in the workplace so it’s important that you show younger drivers that today’s trucking industry is tech oriented. Basically, you want to invest in technology that makes their lives easier on the road.
Route optimization software, driver assistance systems and advanced telematics technology ensures that your drivers are happy and can perform at peak levels. And each of these systems offers additional benefits for your business, too. For example, routing and scheduling software boosts both your service levels and driver confidence as well as reducing costs.
Another critical point to consider is making sure you have easy means to connect and communicate with truck drivers on the road. You could use social media platforms, tablets or even intranet. You want to keep them engaged, whether it’s providing a means for community involvement or simply keeping them up to date with what’s happening, both industry-wide and at the office. Dedicated apps built for truck drivers, such as Aptean’s Proof of Delivery (POD) software, make it easy to send documents to the back-office staff, and cut down on endless paperwork.
For all drivers, the most important factor in job satisfaction was home time. Some drivers want to be home every night; others may prefer a two-week stint; and other drivers may be road warriors that want to be on the road for months at a time. When talking with new candidates, discuss what they prefer and whether your job can match their preferences. Be honest about what the job entails; if you cannot offer anything but long-haul positions, make that clear at the outset.
In addition, think about making your technology investments into driver perks. For example, perhaps you could give long-haul drivers an unlimited data plan, so they can listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts while driving, and stream entertainment when off the clock. This will also allow them to have video chats with family and friends back home and make the long hours on the road more bearable.
As we’ve already covered, you could offer perks such as exercise programs or gym memberships. Perhaps you could have a steps contest with a bonus incentive for drivers who walk the most steps in a month. There are tons of online fitness resources that specifically cater to truckers that provide stretching and exercise routines that your team can perform at truck stops. Maybe you can offer discount programs or company cards to restaurants that have healthy food choices.
Another enticement to lure in new candidates? Both Gen Z and millennials have cited a love of travel. One of the main advantages of a trucking job is getting to see the country and explore new destinations. Offer your drivers ample time between trips so that they can stop to see new places. This ties in nicely with a healthy work-life balance, which is crucial to a driver’s mental and physical health.
According to the American Trucking Association, trucks move 72% of all freight coming though the country. This means that a continuing driver shortage could be disastrous to the American economy. The ATA also estimates that if trucking companies don’t make a concerted effort to hire new recruits, shortfalls could reach 175,000 drivers by 2024.
In addition, the trucking industry is greying out. The average truck driver is about 50 years old, with many approaching retirement. In addition, the logistics industry has a notoriously high turnover rate at around 95%. The reputation for long hours and short pay has kept younger generations away from an industry desperately in need of new blood.
Knowing this, savvy trucking companies might want to change their tactics and recruit Gen Z and millennials to keep their trucks on the road. The options to get them in are simple, but it does require a new approach. Trucking companies need to remember that millennials and Gen Z want to be paid fairly; they want to feel appreciated; and they want to have an outstanding work-life balance. Of course, that is how you can retain your current veterans, as well. There are great opportunities for young people in the trucking industry—the industry just needs to meet them.
Do you want to know more about how technology can optimize your recruiting efforts? Find out how, now.
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