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From hand sanitizer to food to toilet paper, truck drivers continue to make their deliveries despite a historic labor shortage. The statistics are staggering---an estimated current shortage of approximately 80,000 truck drivers which is expected to double by 2030 with nearly 1 million new drivers needed by the end of the decade.  Demand for trucking remains strong so the opportunity to add lanes and grow business is there, but unfortunately, the drivers are not.

The Challenge of Retaining Good Drivers

There are several reasons why the industry is experiencing a shortage. Lower wages, early retirement, long hours on the road leading to burnout, and industry restrictions are just a few of the reasons that retaining and hiring new truck drivers is so challenging and costly. This high turnover rate makes it difficult for fleets to run optimally. Despite these challenges, the trucking industry continues to keep the economy running.

Counteracting the Tight Labor Force

The tight labor force has presented staffing issues for many carriers, but there are several ways to retain current drivers as well as recruit new ones. While salary and benefits are of course, important, there are other ways to attract new employees.

Get Feedback from Current Drivers

What do drivers want and what can help them do their job better? Before any process changes are made, it is important to find out what is important to the current workforce. Perhaps there is a need for better equipment, technology, or more safety training. The only way to find out is by polling your current drivers. 

While truck drivers want autonomy, they also need to be supported by their employers. An open-door policy will enable carriers to get the feedback they need from drivers as well as ensure that employees are not experiencing burnout. Driver advisory councils, easy-to-use online surveys, and one-on-one conversations can help guide where improvements need to be made. Whether informal or formal, drivers should be actively and continuously asked for their feedback as they are the ones on the front lines. Relaying that their feedback will be used also leads to higher job satisfaction rates.  

Make the Routes Manageable

The hours on the road for a truck driver can be long not to mention lonely. Finding ways to schedule regular time back at home creates a better work/life balance for drivers which will improve longevity and loyalty to the carrier. Truck drivers who can get home periodically have a lower turnover rate than those that are rarely home. Dedicated or more regional routes in addition to better coordination with shippers on pickup and delivery windows can help make routes more manageable.

Technology can be utilized to make routes optimal for drivers. Planning systems that provide better visibility can allow drivers to have more stability in their schedules. It is not as cost-efficient to bring trucks back more frequently but drivers with a reasonable lifestyle are more likely to be satisfied in their jobs. Technology can also be used to update fleets with automatic transmission, communication systems, real-time data, and stability control which makes for an easier drive. 

If possible, get input as to what types of hauls and routes they prefer. Some drivers prefer longer hauls while others want shorter, regional routes so they can be home more often. It might not always be possible, but drivers who know their preferences are at least being considered will be more loyal. 

Create a Positive Company Culture

A positive company culture goes a long way with the workforce. Investing time into developing a positive company culture benefits the company overall and its employees. Employees need to know they are appreciated, and their concerns are acknowledged. A positive culture not only leads to increased performance but also increases motivation and engagement among employees.

Company culture is a strong factor in driver employee retention so respecting employees helps to prevent short staffing. It also helps to create a reputation as a great place to work so there is an increase in the number of applicants for new positions as well.

Recruit, Recruit, Recruit

In a labor shortage situation, carriers should constantly be recruiting new employees. One area to concentrate on in recruiting efforts is creating an optimal work environment where drivers want to stay which will increase retention rates. For potential new hires, highlight how your company is different from competitors and give testimonials from current employees. In this tight labor market, explore different ways to recruit new employees, including social media. 

Every job has its advantages and disadvantages. An important part of the recruiting process is to be forthright about the expectations of the job. A comprehensive and detailed job description will help new hires understand what is expected of the position. 

Form a Community on a Platform

Social media is a great source of recruitment, but it can also be used to form a community among drivers and relay information about your company. An open, positive discussion can provide relevant and engaging content for current and potential drivers. Relevant content is key so ask current drivers what they like about the company or ask them to upload pictures from the road. Funny, uplifting, and positive stories from the road will create a connection among drivers. 

Call in Reinforcements

This labor shortage has presented staffing issues for many companies. A workforce partner can help your company stay focused on operations and growth while they take care of recruiting, training, and HR functions for employees.  A team that concentrates on HR issues, safety, and employee liability allows you to focus on expanding your operation and take advantage of the current high demand for transportation. If you are ready to call in a workforce partner, TeamOne Logistics is ready for you. Contact us today to find out how we can help you grow.