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Driver recruitment, retention require multifaceted approach

The driver shortage has been a hot topic for years, consistently topping the list of carrier concerns. In today’s historically tight market, this shortage of qualified drivers is now causing more problems than ever. 

“This driver shortage is nothing new. We have been dealing with this for years,” said Nicole Heron, DHL Supply Chain driver recruiting center manager. “The average age of drivers has reached the mid-50s, so we are seeing more drivers approaching retirement age. With COVID, we have also seen some people choose to retire early, and at the same time, not enough new drivers are coming out of CDL school.”

Companies across the industry have tried various ways to attract and retain drivers, offering everything from sign-on bonuses to tuition reimbursement. While these incentives often catch a driver’s eye, it can be difficult to secure those drivers in an industry that is constantly competing with itself. To attract — and ultimately retain — highly qualified drivers, companies need to offer up a combination of perks, respect and innovation. 

“We have to be innovative if we want to attract new drivers,” Heron said. “One of the great things about DHL Supply Chain is that we are dedicated to continuous improvement in everything we do.”

DHL Supply Chain’s dedication to innovation extends to the driver experience. The company is committed to providing updated, high-quality equipment and in-cab technology designed to make each driver’s job easier. 

Another innovative way DHL Supply Chain approaches driver acquisition is through its Dock-to-Driver program, which provides a pathway for current warehouse associates to become licensed drivers. 

“We are focused on cultivating our own drivers from within DHL,” Heron said. “The Dock-to-Driver program allows warehouse associates who might be ready to change lanes in their careers, the ability to grow within DHL Supply Chain. That’s one of the benefits of working for a global company like DHL – the chance to explore new opportunities.” 

Once drivers are hired, companies turn their attention toward retention. This is a tall order in the industry, but appreciation and respect can go a long way in keeping a driver loyal. 

The drivers who are on the road right now are facing a tremendous amount of pressure to perform despite current supply chain challenges. Anthony Eber, DHL Supply Chain’s head of driver recruitment, recognizes this reality, prompting the company to put extra care and attention into its recent National Truck Driver Appreciation Week efforts.

“With all the difficulties professional drivers have had to face and all the obstacles they have had to overcome the past 18 months, we wanted to do everything possible to make sure our drivers felt honored and appreciated,” Eber said.

DHL Supply Chain hosted a nationwide raffle in recognition of drivers with prizes like flat-screen televisions, grills and golf clubs. DHL’s leaders also shared thank you videos with drivers throughout the week. Rather than a one-week effort, Eber noted that DHL Supply Chain consistently works to show its drivers how much they matter year-round.

The company’s long-term appreciation programs include its Drive For Gold incentive. This program allows drivers to earn points for things like on-time delivery, scanning compliance, attendance and accident avoidance. Drivers can bank points and spend them in DHL Supply Chain’s online store, which features a wide assortment of products. 

Additionally, DHL Supply Chain places a strong focus on active leadership. The company demonstrates its respect for drivers by regularly having conversations with drivers and learning what is important to them. The simple act of going to drivers, instead of expecting them to submit feedback, builds a stronger relationship between transportation managers and drivers.

Ultimately, no single program will fix a company’s recruitment and retention woes. The right combination of incentives and attention, however, just may make the difference. 
To learn more about career opportunities at DHL Supply Chain, visit

Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She covers air cargo, trucking and sponsored content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.