GM – Global Business Strategy
8th August 2022
Truck drivers are responsible for hauling nearly 70% of the country’s freight. Eighty percent of the country is dependent on trucking for daily goods delivery, including food, water, hygiene products, and even vaccines. In addition, the inflation rate hit a 40-year high, further aggravating a vicious cycle – pay has remained nearly constant while fuel prices and cost of living have shot up. According to a recent survey, more than 50% of truckers said that they have considered quitting, while 63% of independent or small fleet drivers have considered moving to larger companies for better pay and consistent loads.
In a bid to mitigate the driver shortage, companies are offering higher pay (over the rate of inflation) and training opportunities, while actively addressing safety concerns. Many organizations are also adjusting their work policies, developing talent, retraining leaders and recruiting teams, and using newer techniques to hire and retain drivers.
How we got here
While the ATA reported a shortage of drivers even before the pandemic, COVID-19 exacerbated the labor problem. For one, long-haul drivers’ increased susceptibility to the virus due to a higher number of interactions gave rise to safety concerns. Scientists even feared a possible driver syndemic (disease cluster), potentially exacerbated by risk of infection, morbidity, and mortality amongst truck drivers due to advanced age and underlying health conditions.
Apart from pandemic-induced challenges, an aging workforce and demanding work conditions have propelled the current paucity of drivers. According to a 2021 study by Coyote Logistics and Emsi, 57% of current drivers are over 45 years of age, and 25% of the existing commercial driving workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next decade.
With high demand, hiring new drivers is a pressing problem for the trucking industry. According to a recent survey, a majority (72%) of employers reported having a hard time finding drivers, compared to 57% last year. While hiring truck drivers, companies need to consider a unique set of interests, priorities, and preferences, yet less than 25% are doing anything creative to promote recruitment.
The road to success
1. Optimize high-volume hiring
When hiring at scale for high-demand roles, getting in front of candidates at the right time is vital. Programmatic job advertising solutions help improve the recruiting funnel by matching the right candidates to the right jobs. Here are some best ways programmatic tools help optimize high-volume hiring:
Personalized targeted ads: Using personalized landing pages for job ads with rapid load time and geofencing technology, recruiters can deliver targeted ads to truck drivers in real-time. With AI and machine learning, programmatic technology places ads on multiple channels, tracking performance for each source, to dynamically enhance ad strategy.
Maintain quality of sources: In high-volume hiring, determining the best source for applications is essential to efficacy. Programmatic solutions provide metrics that help to intelligently allocate budget, targeting job boards and platforms that yield the most successful results.
Candidate retargeting: Candidates often begin an application but leave part way through. Keeping in touch with these candidates after the application process can help build a stronger talent pipeline. So, when hiring for a similar role in the future, talent acquisition teams can retarget these applicants with relevant open positions and offers. Programmatic tools can track and bring back applicants who dropped out.
2. Diversify the trucking industry workforce
Opening the industry to younger applicants may be an option in the near future. The recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow people as young as 18 to drive big trucks. Currently, federal law states that only those above the age of 21 years are allowed to drive across state lines.
Similarly, women can bring much-needed change to the trucking industry. While women account for 47% of the total U.S. workforce, only 10% of truck drivers are female. The industry also falls short when it comes to attracting minorities and immigrants.
AI-powered programmatic advertising helps design diversity hiring campaigns, remove gendered language from job descriptions, and encourage more applications from underrepresented groups.
3. Get ahead of costs with a data-driven approach
On average, hiring and onboarding a new driver can cost anywhere from $6,000 – $12,000. If an organization is filling multiple positions, high recruiting costs coupled with high turnover is a red flag. The best way to reduce hiring costs is to adopt a data-driven approach that helps target relevant candidates and provide a completely transparent view of the hiring funnel.
Programmatic ad tools automate budget allocation to bring down hiring costs and time to help hire at scale. Search engine optimization (SEO) metrics – like click-through and conversion rates on job boards – enable a better understanding of where the best recruits come from. Metrics like application completion rate, dropout rate, and offer acceptance rate help assess candidate behavior throughout the recruiting process.
A data analysis plan is central to any hiring strategy. Evaluating the recruitment campaign that attracted a driver can provide valuable insight into each campaign’s success rate, improving conversion and retention. In addition, through predictive analysis, recruiters can estimate campaign performance beforehand, ensuring greater ROI.
The current scarcity of truck drivers in the U.S. has led to complex challenges, contributing to supply chain disruption. As a result, companies have been scrambling to hire replacements. Because of the demanding nature of the job and working conditions, hiring drivers is harder than ever.
Overcoming this shortage will require a combination of levers – regulatory and technological. While Congress continues to deliberate on how to best address the truck driver shortage through policies and laws, trucking companies can tap into technology to gain better insights on hiring and retaining more drivers.