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Driving job of tomorrow with J.B. Hunt — Taking the Hire Road

Success stems from fair pay, work-life balance while meeting customers’ needs

The COVID-19 pandemic created a business environment where many in the logistics industry now work remotely, but truck drivers are still needed outside the home. 

This shift sparked the leadership at J.B. Hunt to include a flexible work schedule for drivers, allowing them a fair and enjoyable work-life balance.

According to Craig Harper, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president of J.B. Hunt, the fourth-largest trucking company in the U.S. attributes its success to focusing on inclusion, fair compensation, work-life balance and culture for its team while meeting the needs of customers. 

“Drivers want the same things everyone else wants,” Harper said. “They want to be home with their family, earn a fair wage for the work they do and be respected. This is what we have been dedicated to giving our drivers and it has led to tremendous growth in numbers — intermodal and dedicated.”

The amount of J.B. Hunt drivers that are home weekly and often daily has increased over the last few years. 

“We call them wrap-around shifts,” Harper said. “Some can work a four-day schedule instead of a five-day, and they can work over the weekend and have more time off during the week. We all have to be more flexible and communicate with our employees because the work still has to get done. But there is always a way to get the work done and ensure your employees are happy.” 

With J.B. Hunt seeing internal growth and setting the trajectory for the future, many carriers will likely need to follow suit. 

Though many might think to begin with adopting a new technology or seeking partnerships, Harper said it starts with taking care of your own. In order to plan for the future, he believes it is important to address the present. Carriers must tell drivers up front what to expect regarding pay and keep them in the loop at all times.

“You take care of the now by taking care of the people with you today,” Harper said. “Be visible with people today. Communicate with them and tell them what is going on. Now we have tools that we have never had before. Using apps, phones and video, you can communicate with drivers and communicate your story.”

Truck drivers experience various life events just like any other employee – a new home, the birth of a child or a family emergency. Harper is a firm believer that empathy goes a long way for employee retention. 

“You must work to understand what each individual is going through,” he said. “If you build a relationship with them and understand what is important to them, you identify with them during hardship. You understand these are people, not just truck numbers. Put yourself in their shoes — get to know their spouses’ and childrens’ names. Respect is showing them you’re going to work as hard for them as they do for you.”

Click for more FreightWaves content by Britni Chisenall.

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