Truck drivers are the backbone of American commerce. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the demand for qualified truckers is growing. However, attracting new candidates and retaining existing drivers has proven to be a massive challenge for the independent trucking industry.
Some trucking companies experience turnover of up to 80% annually, which demonstrates how big this problem is for many trucking companies. Unfortunately, this challenge is exacerbated as the older generation of truckers retires, and younger drivers step up to the challenge, only to find that e-commerce demand outpaces supply chains and other industries that can offer competitive salaries and easier working conditions.
The following strategies may be implemented to help companies look for innovative ways to recruit and retain drivers in a highly challenging job market.
Offer and communicate the job perks effectively
While there is no denying that the trucking profession can be challenging, it can also be very rewarding and provide a competitive salary and quality of life. But if this message isn’t reaching candidates, they may not even consider the job. When creating job postings, including the following information is vital, as these are all very important to job seekers.
- Competitive pay
- Flexibility, when possible
- Medical, dental, life, and vision insurance
- Retirement benefits, such as 401(k) matching
- Sign-on bonuses
- Regular bonuses, if they are part of your pay structure
- Paid time off
- Family leave
While offering many benefits is costly, it is likely far less expensive than addressing the costs of lost productivity and retraining from constant turnover. Consider how much of an investment your company makes to hire and train a new employee and get them the proper licensure, if necessary. And you usually don’t get your investment back unless they drive for you for at least several months.
If you use those funds to boost your benefits, you can often get a far greater return on investment. And when you are able to offer employees these perks, be sure that the information is in the job posting since that is the best way to boost interest from current job seekers.
Consider adding signing bonuses
Signing bonuses are incredibly effective since many job seekers want this benefit. And while some applicants may only intend to stay with your company long enough to get the full bonus, they may change their mind once on the job. Signing bonuses help generate interest and get applicants to give the industry a shot. And in many instances, it’s enough to convince them that trucking could be a long-term career for them. But, you may not be able to reach this demographic without the additional incentive of a signing bonus. These bonuses are often well worth the investment and can lead to the attraction of some long-term employees.
Consider advancement opportunities
Many employees leave a company or industry because they may feel ‘stuck’ or lack opportunities for continued growth and promotion. And while it may not seem like there are a lot of opportunities for advancement in the trucking industry, there are. There are opportunities, whether it’s a path to increasing income, achieving greater flexibility, having more time off, or moving into a management or safety officer role. Conveying these opportunities to interested drivers is a great way to keep a good employee as a valued asset for your company.
Create a culture of communication
Poor communication is among the top reasons drivers identify for leaving a company. Some drivers may leave a company because they disagree with company policies or feel things could be done better, but nobody listens. One of the best ways to increase employee satisfaction is to ensure your staff feels like they are valued team members. Therefore, if a driver raises concerns or has new ideas, it may be worth your time to listen. Sometimes, they can even help you refine your procedures for greater efficiency.
But in any case, the sheer act of listening and carefully considering new ideas can help you create a culture of communication, which is vital in the trucking industry. And if your company has high turnover, there are likely reasons your employees are leaving, although you may not be able to identify the root cause or causes without asking them. There are several ways to approach this, but an anonymous survey may be the best way to get candid feedback about how you can improve conditions in a meaningful way that will lead to greater employee commitment and loyalty.
Create a marketing plan
The trucking industry suffers from many persistent - and inaccurate - stereotypes. In the past, trucking got a bad rep for overworking drivers, pushing them to work in unsafe conditions, and prioritizing load delivery over employee safety and job satisfaction. However, most employers quickly discovered this is a bad recipe that only leads to short-term success. But shaking these outdated perceptions hasn’t been easy for the industry. One of the best ways to combat these misconceptions is to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that provides accurate information about your company's working conditions and opportunities.
Leverage the power of digital tools
Many digital hiring platforms allow you to target specific demographics or groups of job seekers, including those likely to consider trucking. For a relatively small investment, you can ensure that your job postings are seen by groups more likely to be interested, which is a quick and easy way to boost your visibility where it matters most.
The independent trucking industry has changed dramatically in recent years and will likely continue to do so for years to come. Hiring and retaining employees will remain a challenge for most trucking companies. But these tips can help your company stand out from the pack as a desirable workplace that offers a good quality of life - which is the key to hiring and retaining good employees.