The truck driver shortage is not just an industry problem, it’s everyone’s problem. The lack of truck drivers is driving up the cost of everything from weekly food shops to Amazon Prime memberships.
Driver turnover is sky-high, and hundreds of thousands of additional drivers will be needed over the coming decade to meet demands.
There’s no easy solution, but here’s four fixes that could help the industry hire more truck drivers.
1 Rebuild loyalty
Carriers are finding it hard to inspire loyalty in their drivers. Driven by the promise of a bigger pay cheque, many drivers are rejecting full-time employment in favour of contract or freelance work. But it’s not easy jumping from job to job. If companies are going to attract drivers back into full-time work, they need to stick to schedules, give time off (including Saturdays when needed), and do what they can to improve the working conditions. And pay more, obvz.
2 Put humans, not technology first
For many, tech is the saviour of the trucking industry. But a never-ending supply of technology is not going to help unless it is created with humans in mind. Every time tech is discussed, the questions need to be: what human problem are we trying to solve? And what do truck drivers need? If it’s new software that will optimise deliveries and allow drivers more time with their families, then please, carry on. But if the technology will only benefit senior management, then think again. Technology used to boost the bottom line will inevitably be short-lived and won’t solve the problem of drivers quitting. But paying drivers more money might help.
3 Pay drivers more quickly
Payment in trucking is notoriously bad, but blaming the system is not good enough. Many shippers and carriers don’t pay for 30 to 60 days. What’s that about? It’s time to modernise these systems so that drivers are paid quickly and digitally. That means payments come through in days rather than weeks or months, and access to funds is immediate. Driving a truck is stressful enough without having to worry about cash flow too. And paying drivers not just faster, but more money too will reduce the truck driver shortage.
4 Pay drivers more money
Last, but in no way least, is the issue of wages. Trucking companies need to face facts – the only way to boost loyalty and retain drivers is to offer higher, fairer wages. Earning by the mile is putting off potential new recruits in their droves. Switching to an hourly pay scale or a monthly pay cheque will help – as long as it is seen to be a fair amount. Benefits are also a consideration. Younger drivers in particular are more likely to choose a company that provides good benefits over one that doesn’t. And they like to be paid fairly.
It really is quite simple. Companies need to change their image to hire truck drivers. If they don’t, the truck driver shortage will continue.