If you’re a broker, carrier, or freight company in the trucking and logistics industry, recruiting and retaining truck drivers are two things you likely think about quite often. So, how do you find new drivers, and how can you ensure they are happy and stay with you for the long haul?
A good place to start is by looking at the generational landscape. According to a survey conducted by the American Trucking Association, over 50% of commercial truck drivers are over the age of 45, and in the next 10 years, almost a quarter of those drivers will reach retirement age. If you want to attract younger drivers, it’s necessary to consider what is important to the Millennial and Gen Z generations.
Millennials are entering their 40’s. They are tech-savvy, spend a good deal of time on social media, enjoy collaboration and are generally focused on the greater good, and seek a sense of purpose and balance in their work and lives.
Gen Z Snapshot
Gen Z is by far the most diverse generation in U.S. history to date…and yes, they are different than Millennials. They currently range from ages 9 - 25, meaning a portion of this generation has just entered into the workforce, which is particularly relevant if you’re looking for long-haul, interstate drivers who need to be at least 21 years of age. They are digitally fluent, often referred to as “digital natives” meaning they have grown up completely influenced by modern technology and therefore think, learn and comprehend the world differently. Also influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen Z is considered to be adaptable and practical; they don’t want to be in debt, love traveling, and flourish in diverse environments.
So what does all this mean when trying to attract and keep truck drivers in your workforce?
Well, it means you probably need to start adopting and promoting new methods and practices that will appeal to and retain the future generation of truck drivers.
Let’s dive in.
Flexibility & Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is important to both of these generations, particularly Millennials given they may be starting families, buying homes, and so forth. Truck driving has traditionally been defined as a hard life on the road for days and weeks at a time without being home to connect with and see family and friends. Creating work-life balance in the midst of driver shortages and shipping delays may seem impossible, but it may be necessary to keep your workforce employed and happy.
Various benefits such as paid time off and maternity/paternity leave are often important factors in evaluating and even selecting a job for Millennials and Gen Z’s. In addition, you may want to consider staggering work periods among drivers, such as with a certain number of days on, a guaranteed number of days off. This could help address the flexibility expected as well as prevent burnout from a generation that puts a lot of stock in their mental well-being and quality of life.
Culture, Perks & Incentives
In some ways similar to the benefits already mentioned, there are other perks that these younger generations may seek with an employer. Culture is key. Regardless of generation, most individuals want to work for a company or environment that has some camaraderie and a sense of community. Even though a truck driver’s office may be in the cab of his or her vehicle, you can still find ways to create a community and keep them connected while over the road. Social platforms and private groups, various apps, and other office tools can help drive communication and a sense of togetherness even when apart. Consider using various tools to also incorporate a driver reward or recognition program that can be seen in a community and even allow others to comment, like, and give praise for performance that goes above and beyond the day-to-day. Reward programs are great for providing for offsetting costs on the road such as fuel, food, parking, and even showers. Also consider insurance, financial aid, bonuses, and so on as additional perks.
Millennials, in particular, attach value to culture and want to be a part of something bigger and purposeful.
A perk that not every business may be able to take on, but something that could be invaluable to new and especially young drivers is providing financial support or simply resources on how to obtain financing. Financial limitations are often a barrier for truck drivers just getting started who may lack the financial resources to pay thousands of dollars for training, obtaining a CDL, insurance, and equipment that may be required.
Gen Z perceives older generations’ surmounting debt to earn a degree and not begin earning wages until their mid-twenties as a reason to skirt amassing large amounts of college debt and start working with decent earnings at a younger age. They are also more likely to work a job longer – 3+ years compared to the average one to one and a half as seen with Millennials. They aren’t changing jobs to get ahead, rather seeking career advancements within the same organization.
Investing in and recruiting employees only to lose them within a few months is a significant cost to the organization. Considering this, Gen Z or younger employees, might not just appreciate a benefit such as financial support or eased burden of upfront costs, but may also stick around longer when a company wants to or can invest in their future.
As already noted, Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with technology and generally expect that to be incorporated into their work and personal lives. Investing in technology is extremely important for attracting and ensuring these individuals are happy and functioning in their jobs. Tech investments can be varied from in-vehicle technology to driver apps and so forth that can make their lives easier on the road.
Social media platforms are a great channel to connect and communicate with truck drivers on the road, whether it’s providing a means for community engagement or simply keeping them up-to-date with what’s happening back home and in the industry. Dedicated apps built for truck drivers, such as RoadSync Driver, are also a great way to share relevant information such as receipts, BOL, POD, and invoices seamlessly back and forth between drivers and back-office staff or other third parties. No more waiting for drivers to send in the information or drop it off several days or weeks later.
Technology investments can also be seen as perks. One such incentive could be providing your long-haul drivers with an unlimited data plan, so they can listen to music and/or podcasts while driving and stream services such as Netflix or Hulu when off the clock. Another tech investment –smartwatch devices that can help drivers stay active and monitor steps, heart rate, sleep, and more. This is a 3-in-1: technology, well-being (work-life balance), and a perk!
These are all great tips for keeping your drivers engaged and happy, but what about getting their initial application? Millennials and Gen Z are not likely to walk in and fill out or send in a job application via mail, so make sure it’s easy for prospective truck drivers to find your job listings online, as well as being a user-friendly, mobile-based application experience.
9 out of 10 Millennials own a mobile phone and spend an average of 6 hours a day on them according to a Pew Research Poll.
Be ready to meet your future drivers where they are.
Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity, as we know, is important to Gen Z, but in general, feeling accepted and safe in an environment spans generations, genders, and sexuality. Ensuring an inclusive work environment may keep employees just as much as salary, especially if you are trying to diversify your workforce and attract female drivers. The trucking industry is still largely dominated by men, but more and more women truck drivers are flocking to the profession. A few good places to start: create a diversity policy; be mindful of your brand, advertisements, imagery, and language ensuring that they represent a diverse workforce; then actually make it happen; and don’t tolerate actions that go against your policies.
Both Millennials and Gen Z love to travel. As an over-the-road truck driver, one of the main advantages of the job is getting to see the country and possibly explore or visit destinations that otherwise may not have been possible. Some data suggests that Millennials are more inclined to mix business trips with the opportunity to explore places after they are finished with a day’s work. Whereas Gen Z is more likely to keep business and travel separate. That said, if traveling is appealing to these younger generations, then using this notion to your advantage, whether in recruitment efforts or even providing time between trips for a stop in a National Park or dip in the Pacific Ocean, maybe influential in driver happiness and work-life balance.
Travel is something that came up quite a bit in discussion with our DriverCouncil. Just read for yourself:
“I like nature so I enjoy seeing different birds and animals and especially bodies of water as I drive by. Sometimes I’ll steal opportunities to travel to different states where there is something or a few places I want to take pictures and experience.”
-RoadSync Driver Council Member
Here’s to hoping you found this read insightful with ideas and information to help you bring in and hold on to the future generation of truck drivers.