America’s urgent driver shortage brings to mind the proverb ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ Nothing forces change like desperation. You either adapt and survive, or ride the status quo into oblivion.
You know the challenges. Sky-high turnover, an aging workforce, difficulty appealing to young people, government restrictions, financial hemorrhaging caused by empty trucks… Needless to say, trucking companies are being forced to up their game in order to attract and retain drivers.
How are companies weathering the immense challenge of maintaining profitability while doing more to keep their drivers happy? Let’s have a look at some approaches to consider if you’re keen on keeping folks around.
Money, Miles, Mama
Across the board, the most relevant factors in attracting drivers are pay, miles, and home time. If you’re not emphasizing these three things in your recruiting — and then delivering on what you promised — you’re blowing it big time.
There certainly are intrepid folks out there who don’t mind being away from home three or four weeks out of every month, but most would prefer to sleep in their own beds more often than that. That’s a lot of truck stop food and away time from Mama and the Mrs. (or Mr.).
So how competitive are you in terms of pay, miles, and home time? Outbidding your competitors in this most essential triumvirate of trucking topics can give you an edge in recruiting.
All too often, people make a determination about their job because of relationships. Or lack thereof.
Drivers are subjected to more stress and hazards than your average employee. Day in and day out, they have one of the deadliest jobs in America.
Drivers need to feel like someone has their back when they’re far from home, maneuvering a 50,000-pound vehicle loaded with perishable freight through hostile highways and calamitous conditions. You need to give them time and space to vent and offer (anonymous) feedback. If your supervisors are all deadlines, procedures, regulations and reprimands, your drivers will jump ship — no matter how high your per-mile rate is.
Like everyone else, drivers want to be treated with respect, dignity, and empathy. The difficulty of their work should be acknowledged, and a job well done should be affirmed with more than words. They should be treated as valued, unique individuals rather than interchangeable spare parts who are lucky to have a job.
Your driver supervisors can be your secret weapon to retention. They should be empathetic, responsive encouragers, not ruthless whip-crackers.
If you’re not investing heavily in building relationships and fostering an open-dialogue environment, drivers will find a company that does.
Ah yes, it’s all about the bennies. Especially if you want to reach younger drivers.
Generous health insurance and a 401(k) program are a nice start, but don’t underestimate the value of perks like a plush cab, a fitness plan, flex-time, or tangible recognition and rewards.
Get outside the box here. Make it rain Starbucks gift cards! Do thoughtful things for drivers and their families. Little gestures can go a long way toward building loyalty and cementing relationships.
Don’t skimp on the bennies.
Clear the Path
What are your drivers’ most common obstacles? What do they frequently complain about?
Wherever and however you can, clear the path for them. Remove red tape, paperwork, policies, pressure, and annoyances as much as you’re able. Drivers have to put up with so much, do whatever you can do to get down field to block on their behalf and make their ride smoother.
Don’t nickel and dime your drivers with petty hassles. You’ve heard of dying a death of a thousand cuts, don’t risk losing drivers over small stuff.
Ease restrictions and clear paths for them to excel!