There are so many things we need less of in this world: carbon emissions, natural disasters, heartburn, stubbed toes… But one thing we do need more of is qualified, long-haul truck drivers. And yet, we seem to be losing more and more of them every passing day. Last year, the American Trucking Association (ATA) reported a shortage of 80,000 drivers, an all-time high that could reach 160,000 by 2030. These numbers are high, too high, and for those who operate a trucking business, it’s worrisome. One of the most indispensable roles of a transportation operation is truck drivers, they are responsible for keeping shipments on the road and on task to meet delivery schedules.
There are many reasons we’re losing quality drivers, like an aging workforce, lifestyle challenges, and overall frustration with the industry. And while recruiting and retaining quality drivers isn’t easy, we do have 8 surefire ways to make sure you’re doing all you can to bring in the creme de la creme of long-haul truckers to man your rig. Let’s dig in.
#1 Understand truck drivers
Before the hiring process even begins, take time to understand who you are hiring and what they really need. Recruiting and retaining quality drivers begins with knowing what drivers want and doing what you can to ensure they feel heard. Many truck drivers are looking for work that allows them to get back home every night, or at the very least a predictable schedule they can plan family events around. Giving candidates an accurate idea of what a typical work week looks like will make it easier for them to envision a future with your operation. You want to be able to answer, with confidence, why should drivers choose my company over one of my competitors.
#2 Let the benefits do the talking
The driver shortage is very real, which means trucking operations need to go above and beyond to attract the right kind of driver. This means your benefits need to reflect how much you value drivers, and how their needs are a priority to the business. When creating a job description take time to mention company benefits, especially those you believe will stand out. Be sure to include the most important ones, like:
- Generous paid time off
- Family leave
- Dental, life, medical, and vision insurance
- 401K matching
- Sign-on bonuses
- Annual or quarterly bonus structures
Providing a competitive salary is important not only for recruiting but in retaining quality drivers too. It also means they’re less likely to look for work elsewhere at a higher rate. It’s also important to show your drivers you care about their well-being, so be sure to provide them with resources to recoup their mental health before getting behind the wheel again. With excellent benefits, a competitive salary, and opportunities to make extra, your drivers will feel appreciated and motivated to do their best work.
#3 Let technology help you
No matter how little you utilize technology, if you want to find quality drivers, then you’ll have to embrace the many digital tools out there to help you find leads. In fact, many operations have found success using either LinkedIn or Indeed to find reputable truck driver leads throughout the country. A short message with a link to your job posting through one of these platforms can increase the number of applications you receive.
Once you’ve hired who you need, you can also use technology to improve routes for all the drivers you have! SemiCab, for example, offers a new way for shippers and carriers to coordinate freight deliveries – providing more reliable capacity for shippers who struggle to obtain it, and consistent, predictable revenue for carriers who need to scale their business.
#4 Show interest
One of the easiest ways to lose a qualified lead is by communicating infrequently during the hiring process. Lack of communication on your part may lead to uncertainty, and nobody likes waiting around. If you are actively recruiting someone, be sure to reach out to them often with updates so they know they’re in the running. More often than not, if an applicant hasn’t received any communication from you, their assumption is that they didn’t make the cut and they will quickly move on to another.
#5 Create a stellar company culture
Employees want to know they are dedicating their time to a company that shares their values, and that is focused on the happiness of their employees. Be sure the compensation you offer is competitive or above average for your location, you can even look into alternative ways of providing more pay, like adding different bonus structures. Benefits and pay are important, but so are the company's personality and the employee’s sense of belonging. A strong company culture includes impeccable communication, the freedom to make suggestions, camaraderie, and continuous improvement. These values can be presented in a variety of ways, be it investing in continuing education credits or company-wide mentorship programs. When a company culture stands out, news of it travels fast, likely increasing the number of applicants interested in committing to your operation for the long haul.
#6 Offer scheduling flexibility
One of the main reasons there are fewer truck drivers today is burnout. It’s a hard job, with long hours, unpredictable scheduling, and large chunks of time away from family. One way to address this issue is to offer improved schedules. You could offer employees who have been there the longest first dibs on better routes that will get them home more often. Or, you could create a rotating schedule so that all drivers experience the same driving time on a rotating basis, preventing one driver from taking on the burden of a long drive every single time. Spreading out the hardest routes will bring a sense of equality, keeping drivers happy and healthier.
#7 Provide training regularly
Most people thrive in environments where they feel they can grow. Truck drivers may sometimes feel like their career has stagnated, but they don’t have to feel that way. Providing your drivers with training can be a great way to reward employees who are going above and beyond. When an employee sees a future for themselves in a company, they are more likely to feel engaged and appreciated, leading to loyalty.
#8 Maintain your vehicles
Truck drivers are going to spend a whole lot of time in their trucks. If you want to keep your employees happy, then be sure to invest in routine vehicle maintenance. The last thing you want is for a truck to break down every other route. That’s unsafe and frustrating for your drivers, and can be easily avoided by being proactive. When drivers see you’re willing to invest in the equipment they rely on to get the job done, they are more likely to value the work they do with your company.
We wish you all the luck in the world in recruiting and retaining quality drivers! We know it’s not easy, and we commend you for it. Now that you have a stellar team, you can focus on growing your business. How? With SemiCab’s Collaborative Transportation Platform, of course. Let us be your growth partner and run your loads for you, so you can concentrate on expanding your business by keeping your customers and drivers happy, and acquiring new equipment to support your growth. To learn more about how we get it all done, schedule a demo with our Chief Community Officer, Jagan Reddy!