Recruiting and retaining over the road drivers can be an extremely difficult task. To make it even more difficult, the pool of drivers seems to be shrinking. Each company has their own strategy for driver recruitment and retention, and the hiring climate changes daily. There are always “speed bumps” in the transportation industry, but this one seems to be our biggest obstacle to growth.
There are over 3 million commercial truck drivers in the transportation industry. Although that may seem like enough, it is estimated that there is still a need for more than 200,000 additional drivers. To compound the driver shortage problem, there is increased competition due to the oil and gas sector boom and regular carrier expansion. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says oil delivered to refineries by trucks shot up 38 percent between 2011 and 2012. In addition, drivers are leaving the market due to the new regulatory compliance rules (CSA), increase in construction jobs, and normal attrition as baby boomers hit retirement age.
Unfortunately, drivers know they are in high demand, so they are able to change companies quickly and frequently. They have many reasons for switching companies. They might switch for higher pay, more home time, or better benefits. Additionally, we see trends that drivers are switching from over the road driving to more regional or local routes, leaving companies for big sign-on bonuses, and to try owner-operator opportunities.
There is a way to combat this trend and recruit quality drivers for company-oriented carriers.
First, Truck Driving Schools and Company Recruiters must show how the benefits of driving over the road outweigh the time drivers are away from home. In the OTR segment, the pay can be outstanding. At the best companies, drivers should know that the average pay starts about $50,000 per year, but can skyrocket from there.
Next, all recruiters need to exercise truth in advertising. Many carriers have representatives that are looking for the quick sell. We estimate that every time a driver changes jobs, it costs the driver and family a minimum of $5,000 in lost wages, lost benefits, and productivity hits. We must help the new industry entrants understand these costs and benefits of commitment and loyalty.
We all know the life of an OTR Driver can be difficult and demanding. Companies should commit to providing benefits that help improve the health and quality of life for drivers and their families. It’s our job to educate drivers on the value of these services.
Lastly, the best carriers communicate concern for the families. Drivers know that it is vital to take care of their loved ones, especially when they are out on the road for days at a time. Creating a program that gets spouses and families involved in their driver’s job can be helpful.
These tips are not the answer for all your recruiting troubles but they will give you a leg up on competitors and should help you retain quality drivers.