The issues of driver shortage have plagued the performance of the trucking industry for a very long time now. This problem has been persistent and has placed additional stress on the current crop of drivers to clock more miles and haul more tonnage than ever before. The blame for this failure falls substantially upon the inability of this sector in attracting and retaining talent, especially the young drivers.
But many trucking companies are trying to change the tools they use to approach younger drivers by offering more incentives and benefits. The younger generation is more tech savvy, which means it does not respond well to traditional recruiting methods, making it difficult for firms to fill their employment needs. But now, trucking firms are exchanging their conventional methods with more modern ones and are increasingly using technology as their main tool for recruitment.
The average age of the American Truck driver is quite high compared to the average age of the American working population, making it even more important to get younger drivers from the millennial generation on board as quickly as possible. Trucking companies are trying new ways to reach out to a more diversified age group and these methods have seemed to work.
The employee background verification firm Hireright recently released their 2017 Transportation Spotlight report and it highlighted the growing trend among trucking companies to use new recruiting methods which mostly rely on the use of technology such as social media to reach out to newer and fresher talent.
Referrals are still one of the best ways for trucking companies to find new talent for the vacancies they have, but other ways of recruitment, like using social media, have shown serious signs of growth and hold considerable promise for easing the driver shortage problem for the trucking companies.
As the more traditional techniques of recruiting truck drivers like job boards posting and trade industry related publications become ineffective in being able to attract any considerable amount of interest, more modern tech-based recruitment techniques like social media will become much more important in the times to come.
Over the past year, the use of social media and networking in the process of driver recruitment has grown by nearly 13% and now 60% of large trucking companies with an average of 500 employees have reported that they use social media substantially more now in pursuit of new driver talent.
They are now becoming more and more aware of the power of social media, enabling them to reach out to the maximum number of people much more effectively. Now trucking companies do not just rely on traditional social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, they are also starting to understand the benefits of using picture/ visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. These visually-oriented platforms could help these firms gain more positive responses as the new generation will now see them as “modern companies.” The biggest problem in attracting young talent has been the perception of the driving occupation prevalent that it is low on fun and high on work, a typical old type of a job that was good for people belonging to their mother or father’s generation and not theirs. But through these strategies, trucking companies could finally end up changing this perception and become more attractive to younger talent.
The onboarding process now also includes mobile-friendly application to make the screening and recruiting process easier, according to the same report by Hireright.
While young talent needs to be attracted, the older lot still needs to be added benefits so that they do not opt for early retirement. A driver’s average age of retirement is 61 years old, which is well below the national average as the profession takes up a high toll on the driver’s health and personal wellbeing and most drivers opt out of the profession by applying for early retirement. This makes the problem of driver shortages even larger than it is currently.
There have been some good developments as companies now have started to focus on wellness benefits, like a steady 6% increase each year or arranging driver appreciation events. But the salaries are not good enough still and workers can earn more in other professions with less work. Unless this problem is solved, the decision of a potential worker to become a truck driver will lessen.
The driver shortage is set to touch the hundred thousand vacancies mark in 2017, while the median age remains 49, which is alarmingly high considering the amount of shortage of truck drivers.
However, the job of a truck driver is still very hard but is not matched in equal measure by the salaries offered. The current model is based on the number of miles driven. Drivers are routinely paid 50 cents per mile and are not compensated for any long waiting times stuck in traffic or when offloading the consignments. This unfair pay model only makes it harder for trucking companies to recruit new drivers as the pay offered is one of the most influential factors in the decision when considering a blue collar job like a truck driver.
Over the next 10 years, half of the 890,000 new drivers that would need to be recruited would be needed to take the place of those who retire. However, if this target is to be met, the trucking industry would need to bring a major transformation into their policies and make them more suitable to modern needs.
Millennials now constitute the largest chunk of employees in a high number of sectors across the United States but the trucking industry’s millennial representation as part of the total workforce has been quite low, a trend that is not good for anyone who owns a trucking company right now.
The new generation prefers those occupations that offer perks like work-life balance, flexible timings, higher pay rates and more tech tools. Millenials stay more loyal to those companies who offer higher flexibility in timings, as highlighted in a survey by Deloitte. These companies have also reported a positive financial performance resulting from such changes in their employee handling policies.
While new strategies like adopting more modern recruiting techniques such as social media, and using mobile applications for screening and onboarding purposes would definitely help in getting a more positive response from the younger, millennial generation, the workplace needs to become modern too if the problem of driver shortage is to be successfully tackled in the long run.