National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

Steps to Mitigate the Driver and Tech Shortage

The more things change, the more they stay the same, which unfortunately is not good news for the trucking industry when it comes to talent. But there are things your company can do to mitigate the risks.

Last week, an article in FleetOwner discussed how COVID-19 has exacerbated the longstanding challenge of a driver shortage. The article notes that the current shortage of 80,000 drivers is a 30 percent increase over 2019, and that shortage is going to double…160,000 by 2028!

That growing crisis is going to continue to put extreme pressure on fleets to find good talent to recruit…and just as important…to retain. COVID-19 has definitely impacted the way companies look at their recruitment and retention efforts. But with the vaccine light at the end of the tunnel, companies that have basically focused on business continuity can once again focus on growth. And that means, once again, facing the issue of talent shortages.

Many companies have cut back or imposed a freeze on hiring during the shortage, but once the crisis passes, fleets will once again find themselves competing for the best talent in these areas. There are steps you can take to make your company the place good candidates want to choose:

Reinforce the image – When this pandemic started and most people would only venture out to go to the grocery store, it was the truck driver who delivered those goods to market. They were lauded for putting themselves into harm’s way. Perhaps, this is something that the industry can promote…an image that might last long after the crisis passes. An uplifting message could become a new way of promoting driving as a career.

Reimagine the description – For far too long, the image of the truck driver/diesel technician has been mired in the past of CB radios and hands full of grease. Today’s drivers and techs are as tech savvy (in many cases, more so) as those in other industries. Since we know that Millennials and Gen X’ers are completely comfortable with technology and digital environments…and since vehicles are increasingly complex, companies should make sure to stress the tech part of the jobs when recruiting both drivers and technicians.

Interview digitally – Probably the biggest change that COVID-19 has created is the remote workforce. That may work for those who normally work in offices but drivers and technicians have “hands on” jobs and don’t have the luxury of working at home. However, when it comes to recruiting, the platforms that enable online group meetings are now wonderful instruments that recruiters can use to interview prospects, even when the pandemic is gone. This is also a great way to attract younger workers. As talent acquisition platform, Yello found, “Video interviewing software not only makes it possible to keep the hiring pipeline moving, but it also upgrades the candidate experience and boosts your employer brand.”

Recruit online – Before the interviews, you need to find prospects. Recruiters are likely to continue relying on online recruitment sites like Indeed.com, Google and LinkedIn as well as social media sites to find qualified candidates. That will require recruiters to understand the importance of SEO (search engine optimization) when writing recruiting copy for open positions. To be fair, many if not a majority of companies had begun using these sites well before the pandemic hit. But that crisis has made clear that this recruitment method affords greater efficiency in both time and cost.

Know what your candidates are looking for – This may seem like an obvious thought and one that I’ve discussed many times before, but it bears stating it again. Our industry has had difficulties in appealing to younger workers who need to look at a position as a career, not just a paycheck. To be fair, right now, with all the uncertainty in the economy, the security of a paycheck is likely top of mind. But when the economy bounces back and we’re back competing with so many other companies for top talent, the need to appeal to these generations will once again take center stage. Companies will need to look at their processes, positions, priorities, and culture: these can either attract or repel younger workers. Check out your competitors’ recruitment listings to get an idea of how they are appealing to workers.

Discover how to improve your image when it comes to hiring in my IdeaXchange blog.

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