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Brad Callahan
Vice President, Business Solutions Group

Why the Trucking Industry Needs Workplace Incentives Now

Worker retention is a challenge hitting nearly every major industry these days. For example, in the trucking industry, truck driver shortage hit an all-time high of nearly 50,000 in 2015 and is expected to reach 175,000 by 2025. Trucks carry approximately 70 percent of all U.S. freight, so truck driver retention is important to the trucking industry and to the thousands of industries that rely on it. We suggest that positive incentives can increase driver retention and also reinforce desired behaviors.

Let’s look at issues related to acquiring and keeping qualified drivers and how a new disbursement and incentive solution can attract them.

Recruiting qualified drivers. Building a pipeline of qualified drivers begins with attracting the right candidates,  and the best source for those candidates is referrals. Cash rewards in the form of a prepaid debit card for qualified referrals is a proven success strategy in any industry.

Replacing retiring drivers. Retirement is one factor contributing to the truck driver shortage. Attracting and retaining young drivers to a career in trucking is an ongoing challenge if employers haven’t adopted practices that appeal to those generations. For example, you’ll attract more young drivers by recruiting on social media than by more traditional channels, such as job fairs. Work-life balance and flexible work arrangements (see below) are important to Millennials and companies that offer these options have a strong recruiting tool.

The need for effective onboarding. Even onboarding needs to be revised for generational expectations. Consider this: Millennials and the generations coming after them are “mobile-first” in their communications expectations. Recruiting and onboarding programs that are accessible via mobile devices are the expected norm and the preferred channel of communication. A positive onboarding experience leads to the better acquisition of quality drivers and greater retention down the line.

Delivering driver training and development. Proper training will shorten the driver learning curve, increase productivity, improve safety and lay the groundwork for long-term retention. The best candidates expect excellent training and the right incentives support it. Advanced training will also become paramount as autonomous trucks become mainstream, and truckers move higher up the scale as knowledge workers, piloting trucks on the road as well as remotely.

Given the diverse preferences of today’s workforce, pressures on their time, and the need for technology-driven professional development, look to leverage disbursement solutions that deliver driver payouts and incentives with the greatest flexibility for paying bills, reallocating funds to love ones, obtaining cash, and retail spending.

“Flexing” rigid work schedules. Truck drivers need to do more than “deliver the goods.” They have to do it on schedule, on time. Incorporating more flexible work arrangements whenever possible meets a generational demand (flexible work arrangements are a top priority for younger workers) and increases retention, no matter what the industry. Currently, thirty-six percent of surveyed trucking companies “…are offering flexible work arrangements….” More flexibile work schedules could be another residual benefit of autonomous trucks as well.

Creating effective rewards programs.  Being away from home, on the road, and physical demands combine to make truck driving a uniquely challenging job. Utilizing a payment system that provides drivers visibility and control over their funds, coupled with the creative application of reward and recognition, will go a long way in boosting long-term retention. Rewards for advancing their technical knowledge, sustaining safety standards, achieving productivity or fuel economy goals will resonate with drivers.

Is your organization concerned about attracting and retaining well-qualified employees? Are your incentives falling short of goals? Contact a Marketing Innovations solutions expert to learn how we can help.

Sources: Top Critical Issues in Trucking, by Alicia Bedard. October 3, 2016.

The American Transportation Research Institute. Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry: 2016. Trucking Companies Using New Recruitment Strategies to Recruit Younger Drivers. April 6, 2017.