How to be Proactive During the Driver Shortage

How to be Proactive During the Driver Shortage

In today’s highly competitive market, transportation companies often face an uphill battle when it comes to recruiting and retaining qualified drivers.  


The ongoing driver shortage has been especially impactful on traditional recruiting methods, amid a post-pandemic oversupply of carriers and record high turnover rates.  


With the American Trucking Associations (ATA) projecting a driver shortage of over 82,000 for 2024, it’s important for carriers to be proactive and embrace modern recruiting solutions in order to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in this evolving industry.  


What’s Causing the Shortage? 

In a constantly expanding economy, some might wonder how there is still a truck driver shortage, especially amid a serious freight recession.  


While there currently are more carriers than available freight, industry experts worry about the shifting demographics of the trucking workforce as less younger people enter the field and more drivers age out and retire.  


The trucking industry has also historically struggled to attract female drivers and other members of underrepresented communities due to a lack of accommodation, safety measures, and support. This disparity continues to limit industry growth and development, despite increasing representation in leadership roles.  


At the same time, many drivers have left the field entirely, reporting low pay, insufficient benefits, and a challenging work/life balance. In fact, the transportation industry has lost 6% of its workers since the pandemic, and experts are expecting a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2030.  


Prioritize Retention  

The best strategy to safeguard against the ongoing shortage is to retain the drivers you already have by demonstrating your commitment to their needs. By offering competitive pay and comprehensive benefits, you can create a positive work environment that attracts top talent and decreases turnover rates.  


Many drivers leave positions due to feeling underappreciated and unmotivated, which can make your carrier stand out by providing performance-based incentives and opportunities for bonuses such as referral programs, anniversary gifts, or driver-of-the-quarter awards.  


It is also important to enhance onboarding processes and prove to your drivers that you’ll be supporting them from the initial interview to their first day behind the wheel and beyond. Implementing frequent touchpoints throughout the hiring process improves communication and allows drivers to become more quickly integrated with existing company culture.  


Route optimization software and digital freight matching platforms can also improve the driver experience and even save your company money in the long run. By leveraging modern technology you can reduce down time between loads, create more efficient runs, and make your job offering more attractive.  


Diversify Your Selection Pool  

Another proactive strategy is to broaden the scope of your candidate selection pool. By reaching a larger and more diverse audience of differing ages, backgrounds, and experience levels, your company can ensure a steady influx of skilled drivers despite the challenges posed by the ongoing shortage.  


Meet drivers where they’re at by posting to a variety of online job boards and social media platforms. Innovative recruiting technology, including AI-driven applicant tracking systems and intelligent driver match technology, such as Drive My Way can make it easier to reach wide audiences and achieve better alignment between drivers and carriers.  


It is also beneficial to promote inclusivity by providing opportunities that support members of underrepresented communities in trucking, including women and people of color. These groups can be an untapped resource when looking for new drivers, so consider partnering with important organizations such as Women in Trucking or create a culture of support and acceptance through mentorship programs and training.  


Invest in the Future 

Sometimes, the best advice to overcome current setbacks is to set your sights on the future.  


By providing educational opportunities for your drivers, such as subsidies that cover the cost of obtaining a commercial driver’s license or other essential training, carriers can attract more candidates that might otherwise have been deemed unqualified.  


Partnerships with driving schools are another way to establish a direct pipeline of trained and qualified candidates while demonstrating your commitment to driver education. Hiring recent CDL graduates can also help build a strong foundation of drivers that will benefit your fleet as more seasoned drivers begin to retire.  


If your company isn’t currently hiring but you’re worried about experiencing future effects of the shortage, a driver waitlist could be the right solution. With this strategy, you can make offers to qualified drivers, but extend their start date out by as much as three months. Driver waitlists can help recruiting departments run more smoothly while ensuring a steady pipeline of potential hires for when positions become available.  


The truck driver shortage has already had a large impact on both carriers and drivers alike, making hiring more difficult while placing a larger demand on all drivers remaining in their positions. However, these strategies can alleviate some of the burden currently felt in all corners of the transportation industry.  


For more information on industry trends and how to stay ahead of the curve when recruiting and retaining quality drivers, head to our Employer Blog or connect with us on social media.