According to the IRU annual driver shortage survey, more than 2.6 million truck driver jobs were unfilled in 2021. But labor shortage is not the only problem. The American Trucking Association (ATA) reported turnover rates of 92% in the last quarter of 2020 among companies with over $30 million in revenue.
Driver shortage and high turnover rates have made it challenging for companies to hire enough drivers to fulfill their workloads. For instance, FedEx lost an estimated $450 million in the third quarter of 2021 due to a staffing shortage, which forced the company to reroute over 600,000 business packages daily.
As peak season approaches, finding ways to recruit and retain drivers is essential. This post explores the reasons for driver shortage and provides driver recruitment and retention tips to maintain high delivery ratings and mitigate losses.
Why is There a Driver Shortage?
One of the largest issues affecting driver shortage is the current workforce demographic, particularly age and gender. The trucking industry heavily relies on male drivers aged 45 years or older. As many of these drivers retire, fewer younger drivers step in to take their place.
The pandemic also contributed to the shortage crisis. As the world went into lockdown, the demand for shipped goods soared and created a more prominent driver deficiency.
Another factor that has reduced the supply of drivers is the federal age requirement of 21 years for holding an Interstate Commercial Drivers License. This leaves a 3-year gap post-high school, during which potential younger drivers become distracted by other employment opportunities.
The stereotype that the trucking industry is designed for macho men discourages women from thinking they are capable and welcome to the truck driver career pool. This means that the industry isn’t tapping into half of the workforce population, which could go a long way toward alleviating the crisis.
Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Drivers
1- Showcase Your Company Benefits
Thanks to the shortage crisis, there is a world of opportunities for drivers entering the market. To ensure that they choose to work for you over the competition, showcase your company benefits in job descriptions. Be sure to highlight essential items like:
- Family leave
- 401k matching
- Annual or quarterly bonus structures
- Paid time off
- Sign-on bonuses
- Dental, medical, life, and vision insurance
2 – Run a Referral Program
Employee referrals are among the top sources of new hires across all industries. When creating such a program, offer impactful rewards and make the process as seamless as possible. Involve engaged employees at every step of the way and empower them to become your advocate.
3 – Communicate Often with Potential Hires
Lack of communication makes it easy to lose qualified candidates during the recruitment process. No one likes to wait around while the status of their application is uncertain. Sending frequent updates to the prospects you’re actively recruiting goes a long way in keeping them interested in the position. Build out standard timelines for letting applicants know when they can hear back from you, how many interviews they can expect, and when they’ll receive your final decision.
4 – Create a Positive Company Culture
Fostering a solid company culture is integral to attracting and retaining drivers. Focus on how you will support your drivers. This could be through company-wide mentorships, support for further education, or ongoing training programs. A company culture that focuses on employee happiness attracts a bigger pool of applicants and encourages current employees to keep working with you.
5 – Prioritize a Work/Life Balance
Drivers are also seeking opportunities that allow for a work/life balance. Quality of life is increasingly essential for drivers who feel torn between leading a successful and fulfilling life at work, at home, and with family and friends. Burning out drivers with long trips that take more than four days each week is bad for your recruitment and retention efforts.
6 – Establish a Web Presence
We live in a world where professionals check out a company’s web presence before applying for jobs. Drivers are doing the same, especially younger ones just starting out in the industry. An established web presence gives prospects a feel of who you are as a company. At the least, your web presence should include:
- A professional and informative business website
- Landing pages outlining your driver recruitment program and what makes your company special
- Social media accounts with content that captures your business culture and what it’s like to be a driver for your fleet
7 – Maintain Good Relationships Even When Drivers Leave
This may sound counterintuitive given the situation. However, it isn’t uncommon for drivers to look for other opportunities shortly after quitting your company. When this happens, bringing them back into the fold will be easier if you maintain a good relationship. During their exit, open a discussion about their frustrations with your company. Understanding the reasons for departure can help you make changes that retain drivers. Also, let them know that they are welcome to drive for your fleet should they decide to return.
8 – Offer a Clear Path for Career Advancement
The younger generation of employees is always looking for opportunities that allow them to build a career. Communicating to your employees what their career trajectory looks like is integral to retaining them. This could include increasing their income, more time off, or advancing to a managerial role. Laying out career roadmaps with clear directions on how to advance can give your drivers a reason to stay with your company.
Carrier TMS Can Help
Drivers have many options, and embracing technology, such as Loadsmart’s Carrier TMS, can help your company stand out. You can use the system to reduce the pain of paperwork and stay compliant. ELD integrations help simplify vehicle inspections, while telematics and tracking help keep your drivers happy with effective communication of optimized routes.
Drivers want to operate roadworthy and well-maintained vehicles. Carrier TMS’ vehicle maintenance tools measure performance and detect problems before taking a truck off the road.
Carrier TMS helps you optimize fleet performance, and part of that involves improving your driver recruitment and retention rates. Watch our webinar with Rollzi trucking or schedule a demo today to learn more about our truck management system.