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Quality Talent Leads to Quality Trucking: The Technology Advantage in Attracting, Engaging, and Retaining Top Talent in Transportation

By Contributing Author | 05/03/2017 | 9:21 AM

By Malysa O’Connor, Senior Director, Logistics Practice Group, Kronos Incorporated

It may not come as a surprise that there’s a trucker shortage today, but unfortunately, it may be getting worse. Data from the American Truckers Association (ATA) shows that the U.S. is already experiencing a shortfall of approximately 50,000 drivers and that it could reach to nearly 175,000 by 2024. Yet the age distribution of the nearly 850,000 truckers currently on the road suggests that the problem will get worse in the next five to ten years as a higher number of drivers retire. This sudden shift in the workforce makes it even more crucial for the millennial and Gen Z generations to become more educated about the trucking industry and the opportunities it provides to work with many different types of technology.

There are other factors to blame, too. Truck drivers are under extreme – and constant – pressure to meet tight deadlines, comply with hours-of-service restrictions, fight off fatigue, and manage ever-increasing customer demands. Far from the allure of “the open road,” trucking can actually be a very stressful industry. If the environment becomes too difficult, employees can experience low morale or burnout, become disengaged, or in the worst case, choose to leave the industry completely. Additionally, because of the age limits young drivers face with not being able to obtain a CDL license before age 21, many potential young drivers looking for a career in trucking will move on to other industries before that day of eligibility. This is a source of frustration for companies that want to recruit non-college bound 18- or 19-year-olds before they settle in other occupations.

None of this is good news for an industry that is such an essential link in the overall supply chain. This is especially true as the need for effective last-mile transportation continues to grow along with the number of consumers who rely on trucking for at-home deliveries. Clearly, distribution and trucking companies must do all they can to minimize daily pressures, increase employee engagement, and improve the way they attract, hire, and retain top talent.

Closing the gap with millennials

As companies look to address these challenges – ultimately with an eye toward addressing the driver shortage – many of them are targeting the millennial generation. While such a strategy may seem surprising at first, it actually makes a lot of sense. Millennials have officially passed baby boomers in size and are now the largest generation. The millennial generation now represents 25 percent of the population, which makes it the largest pool of available talent. Additionally, millennials are motivated by career opportunities that give them the chance to grow, learn new technology, and apply new skills. All of these are abundant in trucking today.

These last points are important as organizations attempt to attract new employees. According to a recent survey from the Harris Poll, “the opportunity to learn new skills” and “the chance to adopt new technical skills” were the top two reasons cited when respondents were asked why they would commit to a new profession. Conversely, more than one quarter of respondents stated that their main reason for leaving a company was the chance to pursue a hot new technology.

The human capital management advantage

So, what can distribution and trucking companies do to improve the way they attract, hire, engage, and retain top talent? One of the most effective ways is with human capital management (HCM) technology, which provides powerful tools for recruiting and managing employees.

When it comes to driving employee engagement and promoting retention, HCM solutions help by automating manual systems and providing better access to critical information. For example, truckers benefit from self-service access to their schedules, especially when they can view schedules sooner, swap shifts, or select shift preferences and availability. Quick and easy access to schedules also allows drivers to better manage their work life balance when facing up against Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.

Additionally, when it comes to attracting prospective employees, trucking companies can use HCM solutions to implement the following best practices:

  • Create modern job titles and more engaging job descriptions that will appeal to millennials or another targeted demographic.
  • Highlight skill-building opportunities, training, or other programs that are offered as part of the job.
  • Promote any new technologies or transferrable technical skills employees will acquire.
  • Describe the key benefits and other ways the company values employees – and how it focuses on minimizing daily pressures and overall stress.

All of these outcomes have a positive effect on employee morale, productivity, and engagement.

One solution, many benefits

As distribution and transportation companies look to tighten the existing talent gap, they need to consider new strategies and tools to help them succeed. Whether they’re looking to hire more millennial employees, minimize daily on-the-job pressures, increase employee engagement and retention, or “all of the above,” human capital management technology can give them the edge they’re looking for.

 

Malysa OConnor

Malysa O’Connor is a senior director of the services and distribution practice group at Kronos Incorporated, a leader in human capital and workforce management software solutions. At Kronos, O’Connor leads product direction and go-to-market strategies for several target industries including field and contract services, financial services, logistics, non-profits, staffing, and transportation. She is also responsible for partnering across sales, services, product development, and customer support to achieve sales growth and customer satisfaction goals.


 

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