The seemingly eternal search for commercial truck drivers is always a major topic that concerns fleets and is always listed as one of the top issues troubling trucking fleets. I’ve certainly written about that myself over the past years; however, almost as big a concern as the driver shortage is the technician shortage, which I’ve also addressed in a number of blogs here and in my IdeaXchange blogs. If your trucks aren’t ready to ride, it won’t matter how many drivers you have. According to an article last year in truckinginfo.com, “According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for 2020-2030, demand for diesel technicians will continue to rise…This growth will generate a need for 25,000 new diesel positions by 2030.”
That doesn’t sound so dire until you realize that this refers to “new” positions and not replacements. The real number, based on an aging demographic for currently working technicians, is that 163,000 positions will need to be filled by 2030. Technical schools aren’t seeing the number of students necessary to fill those jobs.
But there are steps and strategies fleets can take to attract and retain the right candidates.
10 steps to better recruiting
- It’s a career, not just a job – No one wants what they perceive as a dead-end job, with no possibility for advancement. Rather than a job, make your potential techs feel like you’re offering a career, with the chance for advancement, ongoing training, and certifications within your organization. This is especially true for younger workers, those you need the most. Perhaps even offer to help by sponsoring training courses and certifications.
- Compensation still matters – Bills still have to be paid and benefits matter. That’s why you need to make sure your offer is competitive. Research industry standards and ensure that your offer also reflects the skills and experience of your employees. Offering performance-based bonuses and robust benefits packages can also be a huge draw.
- Talk about technology – Today’s younger workers have grown up with technology and are not only comfortable with it, but also look for jobs that utilize the latest advancements. The image of the diesel mechanic in dirty overalls holding a wrench has been replaced by the image of the diesel technician in a white uniform holding a laptop. Although the job will still require techs to get their hands dirty for certain tasks, you should highlight the cutting-edge technology and equipment your fleet has.
- Be flexible about flexibility – Younger workers value work/life balance so fleets that offer options like flexible schedules or compressed workweeks can go a long way towards recruiting and retaining those workers you need.
- Make the application process easy – This process can turn prospects off and can end up sending that prospect to a competitor who makes applying less burdensome. Implement systems that streamline the process by making online application easy and straightforward and stay in touch with applicants to inform them of their status. No one wants to be ignored.
- Optimize your online presence – Your candidates spend a lot of time online so you need to do everything you can to make your website appealing, informative, and better than the competition. Use the website to explain your company culture as well as its values and career opportunities. Use social media platforms to engage with potential candidates.
- Make employee referrals a top resource – Your best resource may already be on your payroll. Whether you’re looking at current techs or drivers or those working in the back office, someone in your workforce may know the perfect person for the position. Offer rewards for recommendations that convert to hires.
- Partner with vocational programs and technical schools – The truckinginfo.com article cited above noted a good sign. “The proportion of high school seniors who are considering a four-year education has plummeted from 71% to 48% since the pandemic. Students are now reconsidering whether they want to incur huge debt or, instead, look for a position that can’t easily be outsourced. Many will turn to technical schools as an option; but, when it comes to fleets partnering with those institutions, do your homework. Not every school has the latest equipment, tools, and technology that students will need to work on the trucks of today and tomorrow.
I did say that there are ten strategies you should employ to help you recruit and retain. The eight above are focused primarily on the recruitment end. But that’s just the beginning. Remember, your competitors are in need of good techs just as much as you, so employee “pilfering” is something you need to be aware of. Once you’ve hired a good tech, there are two very important things you need to do.
- Make your workplace the best place to work – People prefer to work in a place that recognizes their work and acknowledges their value. Companies that value teamwork, encourage open communication and transparency, and provide a safe and well-equipped work environment are likelier to keep employees than those who create a divisive atmosphere with silos and secrecy.
- Let them know how they’re doing – Workers can’t give you what you want until you tell them what that is. Constructive feedback is essential as are regular scheduled performance evaluations. Also, let employees know that their feedback is also important, so create a platform to give them the opportunity to do so.
As technology advances and trucks becomes more complex, the demand for highly trained professionals continues to rise…at an exponential rate. To keep your fleet in the best shape possible, you need to enact effective recruitment strategies to recruit and then retain the most qualified people.