Driver recruitment has been a hot-button issue in the transportation industry for years. Trucking companies have notoriously high turnover rates, and the average truck driver is about 55 years old, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. High turnover and an aging workforce have made it difficult for companies to keep their seats filled with qualified drivers — an issue commonly referred to as a driver shortage or a driver squeeze.
As drivers start to retire en masse, companies have begun looking ahead. With the bulk of the workforce approaching retirement age in the next decade, it is more important than ever to figure out how to attract younger drivers. Competitive recruitment initiatives targeted for this demographic, including college tuition reimbursement and ramped up and flexible home time, seem to have varying degrees of success. It does not matter how stacked a company’s total rewards package is, however, if its recruitment strategies aren’t reaching younger drivers in the first place.
The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult or even impossible for driver recruiters to reach potential drivers in person, creating even more perceived barriers. In reality, however, the answer to continuing recruitment efforts during a pandemic and attracting younger drivers may be the same: technology.
While technological innovation is often falsely heralded as a cure-all for an industry that has only recently shaken its Luddite reputation, utilizing accessible digital tools during the recruitment and onboarding process can actually help companies reach new audiences and impress promising candidates.
Millennials are far more likely than their predecessors to do just about everything on their smartphones — chatting with friends, grocery shopping and yes, even looking for a job. With this in mind, Challenger Motor Freight was hard at work developing technologies intended to draw in these digital natives even before the coronavirus struck.
The company has developed an augmented reality tool that allows prospective drivers to hear from current employees — including professional drivers — right from the palm of their hands. Using this technology, a message can turn into a driver virtually standing in front of the prospect, telling him or her what it is like to work at Challenger.
“It is a mobile app that is mainly targeted at millennial drivers. The trucking industry is quite technologically advanced, but most people still see us as an archaic industry,” Challenger Motor Freight Marketing Communications Manager Paul Weatherbie said. “We originally planned to utilize this augmented reality piece at job fairs to get our message out and let people know the benefits of working at Challenger, but we have pivoted the use of this technology and are also using it to create the effect of an in-person meeting when we cannot physically be together.”
In-person job fairs have been put on hold for the time being, but that hasn’t stopped Challenger from continuing its recruitment efforts. The team has taken to connecting with drivers via virtual events, and the results have been impressive.
Challenger’s Driver Recruitment team received almost 50 RSVPs to one of their virtual hiring events earlier this year in a notoriously tight hiring market. That single event yielded 11 interviews and 12 additional interviews after the day of the event, according to Challenger Motor Freight Director of Driver Recruitment and Retention Ramon Calanza.
“We are also leveraging and utilizing AI technology that screens drivers when they come to our website and then allows them to autonomously book interviews with our driver recruiters. This saves us time and manpower, while shortening the time it takes us to get back to these drivers,” Calanza said. “Before it would take us 24 to 48 hours to connect with interested drivers, and now we can do that within four hours in some cases. The things we have been able to do with technology have been quite impressive.”
Once a company is able to reach young adults, it should be prepared for the fact that most of these prospects will not be seasoned drivers. These new additions may not be ready to get behind the wheel the day they walk through the door.
In addition to streamlining its hiring processes and meeting young drivers right at their cellphones, Challenger is uniquely prepared to welcome young drivers onto their team due to its high-quality and intensive training programs.
Visit Challenger’s website to learn more about becoming a member of the team.