Coronavirus Regulatory Relief for Trucking: 4 Programs to Know

The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected virtually every business across the world. Shutdowns, slow sales, layoffs, increased expenses due to new protocols, and so many other things have made the last few months unpredictable to say the least. With all the negative news, there has been some good news for the struggling trucking industry. Programs were created to provide regulatory relief during these trying times. Here are 4 programs for you to know.

1. CARES Act 2020

The CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) made over $2 trillion in federal funds available to businesses affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. This act was signed into law in late March 2020. Its intent was to provide financial relief, quickly, to American workers and businesses impacted by the pandemic.

The CARES Act provides a number of programs to help keep the economy moving, even though many companies were forced to slow or shut down due to COVID-19.

2. Paycheck Protection Program

The CARES Act established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This program provides small businesses with funds to help keep their employees employed during the crisis. With over $300 billion in funding available, this program provides cash flow help if business slows or even stops.

This regulatory relief comes in the form of a small business loan. The loan is largely forgivable if all employee retention criteria are met.

These funds can be used to cover things like salaries, sick leave, business disruptions, and health insurance premiums. The PPP program is still open, with a new deadline for applications of August 8, 2020.

Displaced Driver Resources

If you have unfortunately laid off or furloughed drivers, you have our sympathy. We created a resource center for displaced drivers to provide them with assistance when transitioning and searching from a new job.

3. Economic Industry Disaster Loans

Economic Industry Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are also being made available for small businesses.

This program has been in existence for a while, and the CARES Act expanded eligibility to help business struggling with the effects of the financial crisis.

This regulatory relief is a loan backed by the Small Business Administration. You can apply for a EIDL and get a $10,000 emergency advance quickly, and a loan up to $2 million. These low interest loans can help cover payroll, expenses, debt and other expenses. The advance is forgivable. You can still apply for EIDL loans if you have a gap to bridge due to loss of income because of the pandemic.

4. FMSCA Emergency Resources

Not all regulatory relief is in the form of cash/payments to trucking companies. The FMSCA has provided a number of emergency declarations and provisions since March 2020. These are meant to help speed delivery of needed medical supplies, and provide deadline extensions to help support truck drivers.

During these past few months, there have been many lessons learned from the impact of COVID-19 on the trucking industry. As businesses continue to try and get to their new normal, many of these regulatory relief programs can be a tremendous help to stabilize business.

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Times like these create uncertainty, but they also lead to opportunity. We’re here to help you and your team, whether you’re downsizing or growing.

hiring truck drivers

Recruiting is all about building, maintaining, and nurturing personal relationships. In this uncertain time, there’s one counterintuitive rule to remember. Even if you’re not hiring truck drivers, keep recruiting. Doing so will help you smoothly transition back to hiring drivers when your fleet is back to normal. 

Maintaining your recruitment efforts may seem like the last thing you’d want to do when you’re downsizing. Don’t be lulled into complacency. If you only focus on your plans for the next few weeks, you will be too late. Continuing to nurture your pipeline is critical to your company’s long-term health, but your strategy may have to change as a result of the global health crisis. Uncertain times require improvising, adapting, and overcoming obstacles. When you’re not actively hiring truck drivers, focus on building relationships in your recruitment pipeline. Here are a few best practices.

1. Don’t Lose Interested Applicants

As HR professionals know all too well, recruiting isn’t a faucet that you can turn on and off. Leads that are not consistently nurtured will turn cold and disengage. Even when you’re not hiring truck drivers, it’s important to develop your relationships for future employment.

Consider that consumers typically take three to nine months to make a decision. In this case, your jobs are a product, and applicants are your consumers. Most people spend the majority of our waking hours at work, and making a job change is a really big decision.

It’s too early to predict when freight demands will increase and hiring will resume, but you need to be ready. Continue to build a relationship with interested drivers. Found out what is important to them and whether you are a good fit. Then, when the time comes to bring in drivers, you’ll be prepared to quickly fill your open positions.

2. Stay Visible

Dee Sova from Prime Trucking

Example Campaign from Drive My Way

It’s important to stay top of mind for drivers even if you’re not hiring right now. While more drivers are in the market for a new job now, the competition remains very high for experienced, high performing drivers with exceptional safety records. A lull in recruiting is a good time to promote marketing campaigns. Highlight your current drivers with tasteful video campaigns.

There is no better endorsement for being a great place to work than one from current drivers who are happy that they joined and chose to stay. You can also take advantage of social media trends like #thankatrucker. Provide resources for current and prospective drivers to increase brand awareness and strengthen ties to your company. 

As a recruiter, it’s important to keep your energy high even when working from home. Continue making calls to drivers. Cultivating relationships in a hiring slowdown will make you an obvious choice when drivers are changing jobs in the future. Drivers are not shy about sharing their experiences with others. Employers will be remembered for the actions they took and how they treated drivers during this difficult time. 

3. Fine-Tune Your Message

With uncertainty rippling through the trucking industry, clear, positive communication is more important than ever. As a fleet, the best strategy is to be transparent about your position.

If you are not hiring new drivers, be honest with applicants. Even if you are not able to offer jobs right now, be a resource to drivers.

In recruitment conversations and all other company messaging, strive to acknowledge the current hardships, be authentic, and offer valuable, curated information that drivers can use. This is also an opportunity to optimize your outreach with video campaigns and a mobile-friendly interface. Setting the appropriate tone helps drivers respect and relate to your brand and will foster relationships with potential hires. 

4. Seek Out Opportunities That May Be Available in a Few Months

A hiring lull is the perfect time to look toward the future. The strategic recruiting plan that you laid out in early 2020 may or may not be the right fit for your company going forward. As you approach hiring for Q3 and Q4 of 2020 and beyond, do you anticipate your hiring needs changing? What is different about the drivers you need to recruit and how will your company meet those demands? Use the Drive My Way Ultimate Guide for Truck Driver Recruiting to create a comprehensive recruitment plan for the months ahead.

It is more important than ever to understand what drivers prioritize in a job.

Previously, drivers may have been asking for local jobs or flexible rider policies. Now, their focus may be on PTO policies for sickness or your truck cleaning standards. Listen carefully to what drivers are looking for and shape your marketing and recruiting efforts accordingly. This recruitment slowdown is also a great time to offer operations experience to recruiters to help your whole team align with current drivers’ experiences. Pairing a recruiter with a dispatcher or terminal manager may give them a perspective on drivers’ needs.

5. Prepare for Continued Remote Processes

Slowly but surely, companies are re-opening and finding a new normal. The widespread shutdowns due to COVID-19 will continue to ease, but the effects of the pandemic are likely to linger for far longer. With millions of Americans becoming remote workers overnight, virtual recruiting and onboarding have become the norm for many companies. Even as restrictions on in-person work environments are relaxed, prepare to manage your candidate lifecycle virtually.

While the circumstances have caused us to adapt and be distant, that does not mean that we have to lose the personal connection. In recent years, several companies, including Luma Brighter Learning, have started offering online Learning Management Systems (LMS) for onboarding truck drivers. It’s a strategy that is effective for both companies and drivers. We spoke with Luma Brighter Learning CEO, Gina Anderson, and she shared her perspective on why synchronous online learning is a great option for trucking fleets.

“The carriers are saving time, they’re saving money, they’re becoming more efficient, and they’re making their drivers happy.” Gina continued, “There’s not one way to train people. That’s why it’s so valuable to be able to provide mixed methods of training [using platforms like Luma]. You don’t have to get rid of synchronous (same-time) training — you can do it online. Drivers can learn any time, any place.”

Gina Anderson went on to add that it’s no longer a question of whether or not to implement online learning systems for drivers. Drivers still value real-time connections with peers, mentors, and trainers, so companies should be asking themselves how to make virtual onboarding possible. Asking drivers to complete the basics in a synchronous online environment is a cost-effective strategy to streamline your onboarding process while still complying with social distancing restrictions and engaging your driver community.  

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

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truck driver layoffs

By March 2020, it had become evident that COVID-19 had spread to the United States, but it was difficult to anticipate the nuances of the economic fallout to come. The trucking industry has been deemed essential, yet few people accurately predicted the vastly different outcomes that would divide the industry. The fate for many fleets hinges on the presence or absence of a single word. “Essential.” That designation has created a feast and famine situation that has left some companies scrambling to hire drivers while others face heart-breaking truck driver layoffs.

If you are one of the companies that has been forced to consider layoffs and furloughs, you have our sympathy. These are difficult times that demand that you to make difficult decisions for yourself, your drivers, and your company. As you move forward, we encourage you to, above all, prioritize people.

Be a Hero to America’s Heroes

The way you treat drivers during hard times and bad situations will be the way they will always remember you. Choose respect, honor, and integrity. Even if you have to lay off drivers or place them on furlough, support them where you can. Here are a few ways you can help your drivers if a layoff is unavoidable.

1. Get Drivers Home Safely

Your truck drivers work hard for you. Make sure you don’t leave them with loose ends. If you have truck driver layoffs, treat your drivers how you would want to be treated.

Get drivers home safely and don’t turn off their fuel cards. Doing so demonstrates to your drivers that you care about them as people and not just for the work they do. The cost to your company is small compared to the respected reputation you earn.

2. Be Clear in Your Communication, Especially About Jobs

Each truck driver who is laid off is going to start looking for another job, but first, they will have an important question for you. Should they anticipate their job coming back? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have an easy answer to that question. As an HR professional or executive, the best approach is transparency. If there is a possibility you may hire again soon, let them know. Do you anticipate that it may be a long dry spell in hiring? Be honest about that as well, and connect your drivers to job finding resources like Drive My Way.

3. Familiarize Yourself with Valuable Resources

You may be facing quite a few truck driver layoffs within your company. Each person will react to the news differently, but many of them will have the same questions. Prepare for some of their most immediate concerns and questions your drivers might have. Drivers may ask how to file for unemployment, whether their health coverage will continue, and whether they will have disability insurance. Soon, they will become more work-focused as they begin looking for a new job and may wonder if they need to register for the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

Drive My Way’s displaced driver resources can help you navigate these questions and we’re here to help get your drivers back on the road as soon as they’re ready.

Displaced Driver Resources

Help drivers transition, search for a job, and care for their families.

How to Have the Hard Conversation

No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, especially in such uncertain times. If you do have to make layoffs in your company, strive to be clear, concise, and compassionate. Your drivers are aware of the economic uncertainty right now, so don’t sugarcoat the truth. Acknowledge that no one is at fault for the global crisis, but it is creating very difficult circumstances for your company. Reassure drivers that your decision is not because of their performance and that they have been a valued part of your team.

Here’s our conscientious layoff template for getting started with hard conversations.

Due to the current economic state, it saddens me to share that we, unfortunately, need to downsize our fleet. This affects our entire company and is an extremely tough decision for us to make. Our drivers have gone above and beyond for our company, and we want to help you transition during these difficult times. We respect you, appreciate you, and want to assist you and your family. We hope to operate at full capacity again in the near future but, unfortunately, can’t anticipate a new start date due to the unstable state of the economy. In the meantime, we’re committed to providing you with resources as you make this transition and would like to stay in touch as our situation changes and we are able to hire again.

Consider the Health Impact on Managers

As you strive to be compassionate toward your employees, don’t forget to safeguard your own physical and mental health. Leaders who are consistently having to deliver layoff notifications to drivers and staff won’t get much sympathy from other employees but are likely coping with a tremendous amount of stress themselves. You might notice stress as the subtler signs of increased irritation or frequent headaches. For others, it might be obvious. Difficulty sleeping at night, emotional breakdowns, and the development of serious health concerns all point to stress. For the health of yourself, your colleagues, and your company, you can’t afford to ignore these signs.

To keep moving forward, give yourself time and space when you need it. Anxiety and stress over layoffs are normal. Be honest and compassionate with yourself, just as you are with your employees.

Ask yourself:

  1. Have I acted with integrity?
  2. Have I made well-educated decisions with the best interest of my company in mind?
  3. Am I systematically looking for solutions to sustain my company through this drought?

If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, be a little less hard on yourself. You are doing exactly what you should be. Manage stress by making time for exercise and healthy meals. Even on the busiest days, carve out a few hours of time each day to completely detach from work. You are the strongest asset to your company when you are able to work productively and maintain perspective on your job.

CDL Employment Verification

We’ll Get Through This Together

Times like these create uncertainty, but they also lead to opportunity. We’re here to help you and your team, whether you’re downsizing or growing.