Six Ways to Address the Ever-Increasing Driver Shortage

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Trucking is the nation’s dominant mode of freight transportation and it’s expected to grow significantly in the years to come.

Unfortunately, driver shortage is one of the most critical concerns for transportation carriers of all sizes.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimate the current driver shortage could surge to almost 175,000 by 2024.

The Problem:

According to the HireRight 2016 Transportation Spotlight survey, respondents cited pay as the number one reason why drivers are leaving, followed by a driver’s need to spend more time at home.

Stringent regulations, such as changes by the FMCSA to hour-of-service, may also reduce industry productivity and increase the need for more drivers.

Younger generations also place more importance on work-life balance than older generations, and as a result, are not joining the trucking industry as generations before.

Trucking companies will need to change the way they appeal to younger generations since fewer young people are considering blue collar careers, which they perceive as having a bad work-life balance.

The main reasons HireRight’s 2016 Transportation Spotlight survey respondents cited why a driver may leave an organization:

  1. Make more money
  2. Spend more time at home
  3. Receive better benefits
  4. Retirement
  5. Pursue work outside transportation

Solutions that may help with finding and retaining drivers:

1. Pay increase

Since this is the biggest reason why drivers are leaving, many companies are investing in large pay increases.

Other incentives include sign-on bonuses, upgraded equipment, performance-based bonuses, reward programs and guaranteed weekly rates.

2. More time at home

While some drivers may be a lone wolf, many people become drivers to support their families with whom they also want to spend time.

Although companies can only increase at-home time so much, increased distribution centers and handoffs may help ease the number nights spent away.

Some other tactics used to improve the time spent at home may include flexible work arrangements, dedicated operations to include load swapping opportunities, and bankable home days.

3. More benefits besides pay

Although the paycheck is why many people apply for a job, it’s the benefits at an organization that help them stay.

In a Transport Topics interview, a UPS Freight driver shares how other benefits besides pay really helps boost driver morale and retention.

He recommends more driver appreciation events, such as a company BBQ if their fleet hits a certain amount of days without an accident, or a take your family to work day.

Driver wellness programs are also important in focusing on the health of the drivers and the overall lifestyle.

He stresses that the little things count to show appreciation for the drivers.

4. Increase use of digital recruiting

Although referrals are still the number one recruiting methodology, many organizations responded to the HireRight survey noting an increased focus in the digital arena of recruitment.

This may include the use of online job boards, corporate websites, social networking, and sharing social communities within the organization.

There has also been a shift to engage more passive driver candidates through the use of these digital channels.

5. Positive driver image

The public perception of truck drivers can vary.

Using social media, many organizations are reaching out through their websites, job boards, and different publications to not only recruit more drivers, but stress the importance of this occupation and its benefits.

6. Better training

According to the HireRight survey, more than a third (34%) of the respondents now conduct longer training programs to help shorten a driver’s learning curve and increase job satisfaction, retention, and communication between drivers and managers.

Also, making sure the driver is aware of all that the job entails in important in maintaining a sense of trust between the organization and its employees.

By combining these different tactics, employers can help retain and attract quality drivers.

Employers may need to change their tactics overtime to appeal to the different generations that are now entering the workplace.

Download: The 2016 Transportation Spotlight Report
The 2016 Transportation Spotlight Report

The most comprehensive global survey of its kind – providing important insights on industry best practices.

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Steven Spencer

Steven is the managing director for the transportation and heath care business lines at HireRight. He brings more than 25 years of experience in business development, operations, sales and product innovation. Steven joined HireRight in 1999, where he created the account management program for the transportation division and was responsible for building deeper customer relationships and driving revenue growth.

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