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The driver shortage continues to loom over the trucking industry, with shortfalls estimated to reach 175,000 drivers by 2024. The average truck driver is about 50 years old, with many approaching retirement, and the impending e-log mandate is likely to push some out of the workforce early come December. Beyond that, companies like Uber and Lyft are luring drivers to the ride-sharing industry by offering competitive pay and a more flexible schedule than trucking allows.
Given these grim facts, recruiters are shifting away from trying to attract seasoned drivers, in favor of recruiting millennials to fill their cab seats. And, why not? The talent pool is substantial. Millennials made up the half the domestic workforce in 2015, with growth projected to 75 percent by 2030 (Trucks.com).
Get a New Carrot (and Throw Away the Stick)
Personal referrals still reign supreme as a driver recruiting tactic, as in other careers. But attracting a critical mass of millennials to truck driving will require new approaches. Trucking firms that recognize the millennial potential are successfully leveraging creative recruiting ideas:
- Social Media. 75 percent of truckers say they check Facebook daily and 62 percent of millennials turn to social media to find jobs. One of the strongest and most cost-effective recruiting channels, Facebook captures millennials who gravitate to videos and digital content like blogs. In fact, video ads and digital content outperform their print counterparts by 118 percent. Visual platforms with limited narrative content, such as Instagram and Snapchat, are also popular channels (Transport Topics).
- Mobile-Friendly Job Applications. 85 percent of millennials own smartphones and access them 45 times per day, on average. Unlike older generations, who experienced the transition from mailing paper resumes to applying for jobs on websites, younger millennials were practically born with cell phones in their hands and demand expediency (Transport Topics).
- Wellness Benefits. In addition to keeping older drivers on the job longer, wellness benefits can attract millennials by reversing the idea that truck driving is an unhealthy career that leads to obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases (Trucks.com).
- Culture Initiatives. Millennials want careers with more meaning. Driver appreciation events, employee outings, training classes, and mentoring programs communicate a company’s values to encourage a sense of belonging and purpose (iCIMS).
- Work-Life Balance. More often dual-income families, millennials say they’re struggling to manage their careers and personal lives, and nearly half are working more hours than older generations. More time off and flexible work arrangements are great ways to improve the driver lifestyle. Trucking firms can also use drayage/intermodal solutions to keep more drivers local, and offer consistent wi-fi access to long-haul drivers so they can stay connected with their families while away. These are not just “nice to have” benefits. Research suggests that better work-life balance can keep drivers happy and loyal, all while boosting a firm’s financial performance.
- Interview Process. The job interview matters to millennials, so much that 78 percent said it influenced whether they took the job. Rather than following outmoded, canned approaches, trucking firms should start with convenient, online interviews through video apps, aiming for transparency about the firm, and including more information about the company and its values. It’s also critical to personalize communications to show millennials that you see the person behind the resume (iCIMS).
Millennials are People Too
Stereotypes abound for millennials, but most are unfounded or misunderstood, particularly where careers are concerned. Millennials are much like other generations in terms of career goals and salary. Where they may differ is in employer loyalty. Millennials change careers twice as often as Generation X, partly because they entered the workforce during the Great Recession, but also because they value work-life balance above all else. Not surprisingly, 57 percent would leave a job that didn’t respect that value and, surprisingly, 38 percent said they’d even move to another country that had better parental leave options (iCIMS).
Given these insights, emphasizing the following millennial values can increase your odds of hiring the most talented millennial drivers:
- Stability – 88 percent look for strong company performance.
- Financial Security – 67 percent would quit for better retirement benefits.
- Collaboration – 74 percent like working in groups.
- Professional Development – 46 percent quit a prior, dead-end job.
- Opportunities for Advancement -- 60 percent find this the most critical perk.
- Honest Feedback and Coaching – 80 percent want real-time performance feedback and 79 percent value bosses who will mentor them (iCIMS).
Time to Face the Change
Recruiting is only part of the solution to the driver shortage. Drivers of all ages can at times feel unappreciated, overworked, and underpaid. Women are underrepresented in the job, too, primarily because of the long hours and physical demands. In addition to adapting recruiting tactics to the available talent pool, overcoming trucking’s image problems is a key part of attracting drivers now and for the long-term health of the entire industry. Only then will the industry truly capture the best and the brightest from every generation.
Some smart trucking companies like CR England or Crete Carrier are already offering unique incentives and benefits to attract more talent, including zero-tuition CDL training programs, pet-friendly trucks, no-cost rider policies, 401K plans, and more.
What tactics are you using to attract and retain millennials? Let us know by leaving a comment below.