Solving the Trucking Labor Shortage

Tags: Trucking, Supply Chain

The convenience of e-commerce is quickly driving up the number of product shipments across the U.S. In fact, Pitney Bowes' latest shipping index reveals an 8% year-over-year growth in U.S.-based shipments. As more consumers start shopping with e-commerce giants such as Amazon, it remains to be seen whether the trucking industry can keep pace.

According to the American Trucking Associations, the truck driver shortage has grown from 20,000 in 2013 to 51,000 now. And if action isn’t taken to attract more qualified drivers, the shortage could triple by 2026.

Not only could such a shortage slow shipping speeds, but it could also increase costs for consumers. For example, Amazon raised the price of a Prime membership from $99 to $119 in part due to higher shipping costs.

Transportation and logistics professionals must act quickly to avoid disrupting the supply chain and ultimately losing customer loyalty. From offering an improved work-life balance to investing in sensors, there are several strategies that can help curb the driver shortage moving forward and ensure customers remain satisfied.

Strive for work-life balance

With Baby Boomers set to retire, transportation and logistics executives would be wise to double down on millennial recruiting. Now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, millennials can help alleviate the truck driver shortage that continues to plague the shipping industry.

Among the most important things to keep in mind when recruiting millennials is their desire for a division between work and their personal lives. Aside from salary, a strong work-life balance is most often cited as the primary reason for choosing to work with an organization.

One way to provide that balance is by introducing flexible schedules. More than 90% of organizations offer flexible work arrangements – and for good reason. Whether it’s a high school graduation or wedding anniversary, there may be an occasion when a driver needs to stay close to home. Give employees the option of adjusting their schedules every once in a while. Something as simple as swapping shifts with a co-worker can go a long way toward increasing employee morale and retention.

Offer a mix of benefits

When it comes to bringing aboard new drivers, the significance of a benefits package shouldn’t be underestimated. Seventy-one percent of employees say a benefits package is extremely or very important to their job satisfaction.

But while delivering perks is a good place to start, there’s more that can be done to entice potential drivers. Research from MetLife found that 72% of employees agree the ability to customize benefits increases loyalty.

Introduce the personalization candidates are looking for by giving them the option of choosing between a mix of benefits. If an applicant requests a perk you don’t already offer, explore the possibility of making an exception. Although it may cost a little more upfront, adding in a new benefit can increase your chances of attracting qualified workers and keeping up with shipping demands.

Invest in sensor technology

Long hours on the road can quickly wear out a driver. Ease the burden on employees by implementing sensor technology that can help monitor a vehicle’s health. While a driver’s intuition is still crucial to identifying potential problems, sensors can help fill in the gaps where necessary.

If, for example, a driver pulls over for a quick nap or is waiting on a delivery, a sensor can continue to collect data such as a vehicle’s engine temperature. This repository of information promises to enhance a driver’s ability to recognize issues – such as a faulty brake system or worn out wheel bearings – before they become serious.

Rather than letting a problem linger, drivers can routinely leverage data from a sensor to gain greater insight into a vehicle’s condition and determine the most appropriate course of action moving forward.

To ensure the supply chain doesn’t mitigate disruption, transportation and logistics professionals need to rethink their strategy for hiring and retaining drivers. Although qualified employees are increasingly tough to come by, there are more than a few ways to generate interest in a trucking position. From extending a customized mix of benefits to implementing sensors, catering to the concerns of potential candidates can lead to greater success in the hiring process as well as increased customer satisfaction.

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