Combatting the driver shortage continues to be top of mind for fleets. As baby boomers reach peak retirement age, the American Trucking Associations estimates the industry will need approximately 890,000 new drivers through 2025 to meet this rising demand.
With millennials accounting for more than half of the American workforce, this generation represents a tremendous opportunity for the transportation industry to attract the next generation of drivers and fill the necessary labor gap.
However, the generational differences that exist between baby boomer and millennial workers today are increasingly significant. What was once an appealing job characteristic or benefit for older drivers is often not the case for younger populations today. By employing innovative recruiting techniques and providing new incentives, trucking companies are more likely to attract this growing segment of the workforce.
To win the competition for talent, here are three key factors to consider when recruiting and retaining millennials:
Technology Is Paramount
Millennials came of age in a fully digitized world, and are therefore accustomed to the efficiencies that technology offers both in their personal and professional lives. Recently, the trucking industry has experienced growth in the digital landscape, as new technologies now capture vehicle data through GPS fleet tracking systems and driver hours through in-vehicle devices. Investing in technology not only keeps drivers connected, but it also meets the convenience criteria that millennials seek.
Fleets must keep pace with technology as the industry moves toward a hyper-connected world of driver safety controls, autonomous vehicles and smart cities, as well. Millennials offer a strategic advantage due to their experience with all things mobile, plus exposure to complex concepts like big data and artificial intelligence.
The “Gig” Mentality
Flexibility is the crux of the “gig economy” – a term that refers to freelance or independent consultants who work on-demand, without long-term employment contracts. Organizations like Uber and Lyft have contributed to the rapid adoption of the gig economy among millennials, offering the ability to work independently and enabling an increased sense of responsibility.
Many fleets already embrace this style of work by allowing drivers to have flexible schedules, choosing between local or long-distance hauls. Creating an environment that supports independence and maintains work-life balance is especially important in keeping millennial employees content.
Train to Retain
Millennials thrive in an environment that is continually challenging and encouraging. Fleets that offer ongoing vocational programs, such as driver coaching and entry-level training, not only provide employees with the tools to be successful and engaged, but ultimately create a loyal working culture and reduce turnover.
In addition to established coaching programs, GPS fleet solutions enable managers to view driver behavior scores and compare how each driver ranks against the overall fleet. Fleet managers can use this information to better educate vehicle operators and correct unsafe driving habits. Fleets can further incentivize and motivate younger drivers with such data by establishing goals to achieve and reward progress. Millennials will value this collaborative approach and working with leaders as coaches or mentors.
Thanks to a boom in shipping and deliveries nationwide, now is the time for fleets to act on filling the gaps to combat driver shortage. Attracting and retaining millennials will soon be the standard, not just an option. It is critical for fleets to evaluate hiring practices, as well as employee retention policies, to remain competitive.