Increasingly challenging: attracting and retaining trucking talent

Just about every hiring manager in the transportation industry will tell you about the current shortage of truck drivers. Not only are trucking companies across the country finding it harder and harder to attract new drivers, but many of their verteran drivers are retiring, and others are dropping off for other reasons. To make matters more complex, industries across the board are still reeling from the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. One might expect a surge in applicants for driving jobs as society is massively shifting to online shopping and as unemployment increases, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. There is still a gap between supply and demand.

From referral programs to various digital channels, HR is having to step up their game when it comes to both hiring and retaining talent. Let’s dive into a few ways companies are tackling this massive human resources problem.


Getting drivers involved in your HR strategy

Existing employees are fantastic sources of talent. In the transport industry specifically, referrals have always been a leading approach to growing a team, but companies should do more than simply asking employees to recruit their friends and former colleagues.

To start, drafting and posting a formal job description online is the first step of a referral strategy. Ask employees to share the post on their social networks or over email – it gives the receiver clear and concise information about the role and requirements.

Next, incentivize employees to refer drivers with bonuses. A bonus is usually monetary, but there are other rewards that might entice employees to participate.

Finally, recognize the employees that have successfully recruited loyal talent to set the example and to further incentivize the rest of the team.

Effectively appealing to millennials

Trucking companies are lamenting the notable lack of interest in driving jobs among millennials. One study in 2019 revealed that this group of young adults favoured the idea of working in construction over transport.

To reach millennials where they are (their smartphones), be sure to use every available digital marketing tool to advertise the job posting. It is also critical to heavily promote potential salaries, as many in this cohort may not be aware of earning potential in the commercial driving field.

A job posting must be mobile compatible and promoted on social networks including Instagram, Facebook, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. As for the online application process, it must be straightforward, with a relatively short recruitment cycle (the overall process from the time a candidate applies online, to the time they are hired).

Finally, be sure to include a commitment to diversity in your job marketing strategy, in addition to opportunities for coaching and mentoring. Due to this age category (generally 20s and 30s) many millennials will be keen on jobs that provide upward mobility. Consider showcasing a pathway from driving to to managerial and executive roles in job descriptions and ongoing digital marketing.

Manage your brand

Why is your transport company a great place to work? Why would a driver choose you as an employer? A fair salary is just one feature of a fulfilling job. Companies that promote diversity and respect will always be a better place to work, not to mention have a more favourable image among a target market of potential talent.
Highlight company values as often as possible when advertising job opportunities, on your website, and when speaking to candidates. Going a step further, encourage your existing employees to leave reviews on employer sites such as Glassdoor – giving potential candidates an honest view of the company.
If your current employees feel like undervalued commodities that don’t matter, it’s probably time to change how you treat them.

Retention as an ongoing process

Companies with very large fleets tend to experience higher turnover rates, but even small operations should conduct turnover audits. It’s important to get a clear picture of reasons why employees quit. Could it be insufficient wages and benefits, a need for more work-life balance, or a lack of transparency from management?

Retention strategies should be practiced throughout the year, not just after a mass exodus of employees. Lowering staff turnover might mean making changes to a benefits package, investing in better training, or simply listening to employees with utmost sincerity.

2020 kicked off in a most unprecedented way, making it nearly impossible to totally predict how supply chains and the resulting supply/demand for drivers will evolve. One thing is certain: companies that make changes to how they hire and retain employees today will most likely be the ones with real staying power as we move forward in this ever changing economy.