Employee retention is one of the major problems crippling the trucking industry. Companies across the industry have consistently struggled with turnover rates. As a result, they are dealing with increasingly high costs of operations. Put simply, trucking companies are struggling to hold onto their drivers long enough for them to get a considerable return on the investment they make on each trucker.
Analyzing the Labor Shortage
There are companies within the industry who retain no more than a handful of drivers among the hundreds they recruit. This recent procession of drivers through the back door of the industry is not an anomaly by any stretch of the imagination. It is a problem people within the industry have been anticipating for quite some time.
There are a number of factors that can be highlighted to explain the ongoing employee retention crisis holding back the growth of the trucking industry. The biggest reason for this problem is the high average age of truck drivers. Approximately 25% of all the drivers working in the industry are aged 55 or more. They only have a limited amount of time to serve their companies before they retire and ride off into the sunset. On the flip side of the coin, only 5% of truck drivers currently employed are below the age of 25. Clearly, the industry is failing to attract the attention of younger drivers who are capable of putting in more years than their middle-aged counterparts.
It is also worth noting that the job of a truck driver is no longer perceived as a stable profession as was the case before. For most young drivers, this is a stepping stone to a more lucrative career. Unless these young drivers come to understand that working in the trucking industry can be a great long term option for them, it is going to be difficult for companies to retain employees for longer periods of time.
There is also a great disparity between male and female drivers in the trucking job sector. Women make up only 4 to 6 percent of all drivers employed in this industry. Traditionally speaking, the trucker lifestyle is hardly compatible with specific gender-oriented requirements female drivers have. Most of them will not be comfortable with the idea of staying on the road for 10 to 14 days at a stretch. To combat this problem, trucking companies are working to convince young women that this industry is not a man’s world because if more women do not get involved in this profession, the labor shortage may continue to persist.
Why Truck Driving Often Does Not Appeal to Young Workers
It is also extremely challenging to attract and recruit millennials to the trucking industry. Young employees are quite unwilling to ignore the temptation of trying out their luck in other more contemporary job sectors. As mentioned before, truck driving has become somewhat of an old school profession that no longer attracts the youth as it used to.
Moreover, the work habits of truck drivers have changed drastically over the years. Young truck drivers have a completely different take on life and work ethic compared to older generations. The idea of staying on the road for days and weeks at a stretch is absurd to modern truck drivers. They would like to return home every night and take the weekends off, as well. In short, the long and laborious work hours are a stumbling block to employee retention in the trucking industry. Staying in touch with friends and family works as a clear incentive for these drivers.
According to some experts in the industry, the main reason trucking companies are struggling to attract young workers is because the wage rate is not competitive. The median hourly wage rate for heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers is approximately $19.36 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This adds up to a yearly income of $43,660. In other words, truck drivers in America are earning lower than the national average hourly wage rate, which is above $21. The time spent on the road is simply not worth the money being offered.
Highway Transport’s yearly average pay for a System/OTR truck driver is $67,454 + crucial areas offer a $3,000 sign-on bonus. Are you a professional truck driver interested in discovering what it is like to be trained on the tanker and run liquid bulk?
Perhaps running system loads is not your preference. Highway Transport also has Regional driving positions available in certain areas.
Furthermore, the growth of private transportation services such as Uber and Lyft have created a new space for drivers to explore. These driving jobs are far more lucrative given the flexible working hours, higher pay (in most major cities), and the option to operate in close proximity to their area of residence.
Creating Innovative Solutions
Trucking companies need to adapt to the challenges of the changing times and alter their recruitment strategies in order to get the attention of millennials. The following are some changes that could help companies improve their retention rate:
Trucking companies need to focus on finding ways to raise driver wages. This will help them compete with other jobs in the transportation sector and allow them to lure young workers who are looking for a consistent flow of big paychecks early in their careers. They could also revise the pay structure in order to better reward workers who are willing to sign long term deals with the company or offer signing bonuses as a way of attracting young drivers. Moreover, some companies are offering to cover the cost of driver training which can be hugely beneficial for young workers struggling to find their feet.
Current drivers on the payroll can be asked to provide reviews and testimonials. This will not only inspire the millennials to follow in the footsteps of the old timers but also give them an exclusive insight into how they can contribute to the growth of an already successful company. A sense of involvement can go a long way in encouraging a millennial to jump on board and sign up with a trucking company for the long haul.
Companies also need to develop innovative ways to make the profession more attractive to young drivers. Some of them are already offering rider programs where family members or significant others are given the opportunity to spend the weekdays with the drivers on the road. A program like this allows the young driver to remain focused on their work without experiencing the burden of social isolation. Additionally, there is an increased focus on college outreach programs so that workers can be channeled into the industry right after they graduate.
Businesses within the industry are also working to improve the image of the truck driver. The profession may have lost some of its appeal to younger drivers. Clever marketing campaigns that focus on technological advancements taking place within the industry can open doors to young truck drivers once again. Trucking companies should utilize the power of social media. Many trucking companies are moving over to Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram to attract workers by showcasing pictures that depict the wonderful side of the trucker lifestyle.
What Highway Transport Does to Appeal to the Next Generation
It isn’t luck that keeps drivers from leaving Highway Transport, it is good planning. Highway Transport’s turnover rate is considerably below the industry average. Drivers of all ages are drawn to the company culture. Increasingly, 26 to 44-year-olds are amazed to discover a good, solid $50,000 – $70,000 starting income at Highway Transport. It’s a different time now. What people used to envision in their minds eye–the stereotypical “trucker” image of the past has evolved into this new generation that is very tech-savvy, very professional, very collaborative, social, and personable. Increasingly, our driving fleet today more closely resembles “Trek” than “Truck.” It seems to be “a thing” right now for companies to complain and commiserate about the millennial generation. Highway Transport embraces their need for independence, their spirit for entrepreneurial thinking. Tanker Trucking is evolving to be an ideal fit for this group.
Many state governors have initiatives + scholarships toward college, but let’s face it, Highway Transport speaks with many young recruits who simply do not want to invest the time to attend college. We find a high number of people who wouldn’t attend college if it was absolutely 100% free. Trucking is one of those jobs that can provide a fantastic return on a very small investment in education.
Gone are the days of worn out long haul truck drivers being on the road for weeks at a time. Logistical planning is so much more precise and sophisticated today. Routes are intentionally designed to provide shorter out-and-back runs preferred by growing households. Highway Transport’s service centers are strategically located so that drivers enjoy more home time than ever. The new business model utilizes drivers more as part of a relay team.
Highway Transport is constantly re-arranging our entire business model to accommodate the growing family. Here’s an example: In the past, business would have been to go from let’s say Knoxville to Philadelphia, to Cincinnati to Chicago to Texas then returning home to Knoxville maybe over the length of 2 weeks’ time. We listened to our drivers and heard this was not a sustainable lifestyle.
Highway has benefited from more female drivers entering the work force. Highway Transport also is equipped with predominantly automatic transmissions in an effort to attract drivers with the comfort and ease of not needing to manually shift the truck.
The following are two Highway Transport drivers who have discovered a new home with Highway because of our ability to provide a fantastic income + accommodate their lifestyle needs:
Darla is currently a driver at Highway Transport’s Garland, TX facility where Highway has a dedicated location within Ecolab.
Amar Harouz, an outstanding driver based out of Highway Transport’s location in Croydon, PA
Check out this video of Tom Frain, who tell us why he gravitates toward Highway Transport drivers with more seniority:
From millennial to boomer to senior…this is a great time to discover a new career home with Highway Transport where you will find a company culture of kindness and the nicest coworkers and staff in the industry. Ask anyone.