IRVINE, Calif., March 25, 2015 – Amid a perfect storm of increasing market demand requiring more drivers, a declining number of drivers due to an aging workforce, and fewer younger drivers being hired, the driver shortage is only getting worse, according to the HireRight 2015 Transportation Spotlight.
The survey found the hiring outlook to be optimistic with 83 percent of respondents expecting to increase their workforce size this year, reflecting overall market growth driven by rising customer demand, freight revenues, and truck tonnage. However, this demand exacerbates the driver shortage because while motor carriers aim to increase hiring, the survey found they are struggling to recruit and retain as many drivers as they need – 63 percent reported that finding, retaining, and developing talent was their top business challenge this year. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimate that the current driver shortage is 35,000 drivers and an additional 240,000 new truck drivers will be needed by 2023.1
“The driver shortage is a significant problem, and while many industries are experiencing a talent shortage, trucking is unique in that it has several factors multiplying this challenge. The trucking industry has a disproportionate number of employees over the age of 45; the size of the core working age population, ages 21-50, is shrinking overall; and fewer younger workers are considering careers like truck driving,” said Steven Spencer, vice president of transportation, HireRight. “This year’s Transportation Spotlight explores these challenges and how motor carriers are improving their recruiting, hiring, employment screening, and retention tactics to overcome them and ensure they can hire well-qualified drivers to meet their growing customer demand.”
The Driver Problem – Recruitment and Retention
The hiring challenge is considerable for motor carriers, and the survey reveals several approaches they’re taking to address it, both financial and non-monetary. In addition to the top three more conventional recruitment methods – referrals (83%), online job boards (62%), and print media (57%) – the survey found motor carriers are also taking more innovative approaches, such as offering generous sign-on bonuses (39%) and conducting truck driver school recruitment programs (25%). The sign-on bonuses are not just an incentive at initial hire, but also include a payout after a certain period of time has passed or a performance milestone is reached. In addition, some carriers that recruit from truck driving schools even hire drivers before they’ve completed their instruction and pay for tuition. Companies are also focusing recruiting efforts on different segments for potential drivers, such as women, minorities, immigrants, and veterans. In fact, some manufacturers are designing trucks especially for women as more carriers are targeting that segment of the population for hiring.
The survey also reveals that driver retention is a significant priority for motor carriers and they are implementing a wide range of strategies to improve engagement and retention. The top four monetary-based retention approaches are:
In terms of non-monetary retention activities, the top tactic for large companies (4,000+ employees) are driver appreciation events (78%), while small carriers (1-99 employees) are most likely to provide flexible work arrangements (49%), so drivers can spend more time at home. To keep drivers closer to home, 31 percent of all respondents employ dedicated operations, which benefit both the carrier and the driver, as carriers are guaranteed income during the contract period and drivers are given a standard route with set hours and more home time. In addition, 13 percent stated they are conducting load swapping, in which trucking companies relocate distribution centers or add more trailer yards so drivers can split long routes. Drivers can drop off their loads, pick up a new load, and head home, while the drop-off load is then picked up by another driver. Leadership training and articulating career paths is used by nine percent of respondents, while eight percent offer the ability to earn bankable home days.
Screening Trends and Practices
Survey respondents reported that screening provided a number of critical benefits including better quality of hires (67%), more consistent safety and security (52%), improved regulatory compliance (51%), better company reputation (29%), and better employee retention (24%). In fact, 82 percent of respondents reported that screening helped uncover issues that might not have been discovered otherwise.
Driven by federal regulations, the top background checks performed are motor vehicle records checks (97%), previous employment verification (91%), checks of the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (82%), and reports from the Pre-employment Screening Program data (79%). Although it’s a critical step to help facilitate a safe and secure workforce, only 73 percent of transportation respondents check criminal and other public records searches, lagging behind other industries where 92 percent of companies conduct criminal checks.
The Transportation Spotlight is based on surveys of human resources, talent management, security, safety, and executive management professionals, and is a subset of the 2015 HireRight Employee Background Screening Benchmark Survey. The complete Transportation Spotlight can be downloaded here.
HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage, and control background screening and related programs. More than 9,500 transportation companies trust HireRight because the company delivers customer-focused solutions that provide greater efficiency and faster results. HireRight also provides pre-integrated background screening services through applicant tracking systems from top providers such as Oracle, IBM, SAP, PeopleAdmin, HealthcareSource, HRsmart, SilkRoad, Avatar, EBE, and Tenstreet. For more information, visit the company’s web site at www.hireright.com/transportation.
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1 American Transportation Research Institute, “Analysis of Truck Driver Age Across Two Decades,” http://www.mmta.com/document_upload/Analysis%20of%20Truck%20Driver%20Age%20Demographics%20FINAL%2012%202014.pdf