How Trucking Companies Can Recruit, Hire, and Retain Drivers
Drivers are the backbone of the trucking industry. They play a critical role in operations, delivery, and safety every day and every mile. Unfortunately, hiring and retaining drivers continues to be challenging for many trucking companies.
The driver shortage is a perennial problem in the industry — and a rapidly aging workforce is adding additional pressure to the problem. According to a recent post from Transforce, the average age for truck drivers in the U.S. is 46 and is continuing to rise.
This post will look at the challenges facing trucking companies and tactics you can use to attract, hire, and retain drivers for your business.
What are the challenges of hiring and retaining drivers?
An aging driver workforce is only one challenge that trucking companies face. Every day, hundreds of drivers leave the workforce for different opportunities. In 2019, the driver turnover rate was an astonishing 91%.
But the challenges are more than just retaining drivers. Attracting new drivers — especially Millenials and Gen Z — is increasingly challenging due to the safety and regulatory requirements for being a truck driver.
The trucking industry is competitive. There are often more job openings than qualified drivers to fill them. In addition, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft make retaining truck drivers more difficult by displaying wages and hours that appear better than what trucking companies can offer.
Hiring and training new drivers can be costly. Whether it's the trucking companies or the driver candidate paying, the average cost of CDL training is between $3,000 and $7,000. These licenses are an expensive investment, especially considering the high turnover rate.
Trucking can be demanding and challenging, leading to high turnover among drivers. The lifestyle can also make it difficult for trucking companies to retain their best employees.
The trucking industry is heavily regulated, and drivers must meet strict standards to be qualified to operate a commercial vehicle. Finding and retaining drivers who meet these requirements can be difficult when competing against less-regulated businesses.
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How to attract, hire, and retain drivers
With some planning and thought, trucking companies can design recruitment and retention programs to reduce churn and help attract new driver candidates.
Define your driver requirements
It's essential to define your driver requirements, so you understand what type of drivers thrive and stay with your business. Defining your driver requirements can also help avoid costly hiring mistakes by predicting which drivers will likely succeed in the long run.
Here are three things to consider when defining your driver requirements:
- Experience. Are you looking for experienced, licensed drivers, or are you willing to train new drivers?
- CDL Class. Different CDL classes are required for different types of vehicles, so it's critical to identify the suitable class for your needs today and in the future.
- Special qualifications. Does your business or customers require special qualifications like hazmat or longer combination vehicles (LCVs) endorsements?
Defining your driver requirements upfront can save time and resources by filtering out candidates that don’t meet your needs.
Create a compelling job posting
Your business is unique, but are your driver job posts telling that story? Crafting compelling job postings can help attract qualified and motivated candidates to apply for your open roles. Creating a persuasive job listing does more than help you stand out from the competition. It helps tell your story and attract candidates who can see themselves working for your business.
Your job posting should include the daily duties and responsibilities of a successful candidate. Clearly explaining what is expected and required will help attract interested and qualified candidates.
Job postings and your career page are the best places to provide details on your culture and benefits. Quotes from current employees tell your story with your employees' voices, giving credibility to how you have positioned your business. These pages also include information about the company values and any benefits or perks offered to employees.
Develop a strong employer brand
Your brand is the story you use to connect with customers. Your employer brand is the story you use to communicate with candidates to drive interest in your open driver roles. Defining your employer brand means more than benefits and perks. Strong employer brands start with a focus on what you do to create a positive and inclusive company culture.
Connecting with candidates and telling your employer brand story can be done online and in person. For online, leverage your social media channels to connect with candidates. It's a great way to show what a day on the job with your company is like. Using social media to tell your employer brand story can help candidates see themselves working for you.
Your current employees' social media channels are even more critical than yours. When your employees share positive experiences working for you, it gives authenticity to your story.
Use a variety of recruitment methods
Attracting a large, diverse pool of candidates is crucial to building a solid recruitment funnel. That's why it’s essential to use various recruitment methods to tell your story and showcase why driving your business is the right choice.
Some recruitment methods include:
- Getting a booth at job fairs and industry events
- Using online job boards like Indeed
- Posting roles and tell your employer brand story on social media
- Offering a referral program for current employees to attract qualified candidates
- Recruiting through industry associations or trucking schools
Using a combination of recruitment methods will help you reach a wider pool of potential candidates and increase the chances of finding the right drivers for your company.
Offer competitive pay and benefits
Drivers are looking for positions that offer a good income and comprehensive benefits. Before posting roles, check to ensure your pay rates and benefits are competitive with other trucking companies in your area.
Younger drivers know that pensions are a thing of the past, but they are still looking for roles that offer benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. Younger drivers also look for transparency of pay rates. Posting your pay rates can help build trust with potential drivers.
Invest in driver training and support
Attracting younger candidates often means paying for or supplementing CDL licensing for new drivers. But training doesn't end with a license. Millennials and Gen Z candidates have a strong desire to work for businesses that value continuous learning.
Continuous learning can include ongoing safety training, driver education programs, and industry-specific certification courses. By investing in your drivers and providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed, you can help them improve their skills and advance their careers within your company. This can decrease your turnover rates and turn drivers into advocates for working at your company.
Invest in good technology
Technology like transportation management software (TMS) systems do more than reduce costs for your business. They can help reduce turnover by improving the driver experience for existing and new drivers.
- Better communication and collaboration. TMS systems can improve route planning and optimization by planning efficient routes that avoid congestion and reduce time on the road. This can reduce stress and increase job satisfaction.
- Enhanced load management. TMS systems can help drivers manage loads and provide real-time updates on schedule that reduce delays and errors. The more on-time deliveries, the better reputation for your drivers and your business.
- Improved safety and compliance. TMS systems can provide tools for drivers to monitor and manage safety and compliance — including tracking hours of service, conducting vehicle inspections, and providing alerts for potential violations. This can help drivers avoid penalties and fines and improve their job security and reputation.
- Incentive programs and rewards. Especially important with younger drivers, TMS systems can help you implement incentives and rewards programs. These can be based on meeting delivery times, stop completion, or meeting safety standards. Reward programs both help attract new drivers and retain current drivers.
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