How to Attract and Recruit Millennial Drivers? You’ve Got to Sell Trucking!
One of the accepted realities in the trucking industry has been that recruiters face an enormous challenge in finding enough drivers to keep trucks rolling. We've also known for a long time that our workforce is steadily growing older. Statistically, the average age of truckers is often cited as being somewhere on the plus side of 55.
As these older drivers continue to age out and retire, trucking companies will face increased competition for the remaining pool of truckers, unless more carriers develop strategies to attract and recruit younger drivers.
That means putting more focus on bringing millennials into our industry. So how do we do that?
Let's start by understanding who they are, what motivates them, and how we can shift our perceptions about them and hopefully change theirs about our industry. Because, let's face it, the reason we aren't hiring more millennials as truck drivers is because they're not interested in trucking as a profession.
Millennials are a Significant Demographic
If, when you hear the word millennial, you immediately think of some wet-behind-the-ears entitled youngster, stop. As of early 2019, millennials in the workplace ranged in age from 22 to 38 years old. Yes, some are young and inexperienced but most of them are not.
What's more, this is not a small group of people we're talking about. Reportedly more than one in three American workers (35%) are Millennials; this makes them the largest generation in the U.S. labor force.
So, we're talking about a large portion of the workforce, many of whom have their own families to provide for, along with many who are at the early stages of their working lives. It becomes our job, as leaders in the trucking industry, to encourage millennials to see trucking as a viable career.
We Have to Market Trucking as a Career
Convincing this "younger" generation to become truck drivers will require some work on our part. For too long, skilled trades and "blue-collar" professions like trucking, have been ignored by schools in favor of streaming students towards "white collar" careers.
So we have to promote our unique advantages as an industry to work in. Here are some of the things we should be highlighting to attract millennials:
The pandemic brought enormous attention to the essential role trucking has as the supplier of everything that keeps our society running. That spells job security! In good times or bad, our trucks keep rolling and that means truckers continue to earn when many others might not.
Solid Earning Potential
Let's face it, money talks! Certainly, truck drivers aren't lacking opportunities to work, and along with that, there's the potential for truckers to earn substantial salaries. For some companies, selling this advantage may require a review and adjustment of their offerings.
Benefits Make a Difference
Just the same as everyone else, millennials are looking for the best packages to fit their needs. While other industries have been cutting benefits, the trucking industry has put more emphasis on them. All the usual elements such as healthcare, insurance and retirement savings, should make up your benefits plan. In addition, you should look to include creative offerings around things millennial truck drivers will value such as time off, wellness programs, cell phone allowances, laundry reimbursements (OTR drivers), pet-friendly policies, or student loan repayment plans.
Lifestyle vs. Job
We know trucking is not a nine-to-five profession. For some people, that can be an attractive option. Many millennials value experiences over things and prefer flexibility in the workplace. Why not promote the key elements of being a truck driver, such as the opportunities for travel, variety, the potential for flexible schedules (be sure you're delivering on that), and the freedom of working independently without constant supervision or oversight?
More than any generation, millennials are comfortable with technology. While some companies may have been slow to adapt, the trucking industry overall has embraced technology. Be sure to highlight how your company is incorporating technology into your equipment and practices. Whether it's through ELD's, using online training platforms, or Zoom chats for check-ins with drivers, demonstrate how your company is current and possibly even ahead of the curve.
Use the Tools and Walk the Walk
Knowing what to promote about yourself is only one piece. Next comes where and how. It should come as no surprise to anyone that online platforms will be the preferred choice for communicating with millennials. That means using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, along with digital job boards.
Going above and beyond simple advertising will deliver better results. As stated earlier, our job now is to persuade millennials that a career in trucking can be a rewarding and attractive proposition. To do that, you need to tell your story and sell trucking as a lifestyle.
Trucking companies that find creative ways to use video, text and even email to communicate their values, culture and opportunities will get a jump over less agile competitors at reaching millennial candidates.
In the end, all the marketing in the world is no good if you can't deliver. You can't fake a positive company culture, and that's something millennials value in an employer. So take a look at how you're doing things, particularly where new driver hires are concerned. If necessary, consider investing some time and resources to review and improve your practices around onboarding, orientation, managing and training.
Millennials appreciate frequent feedback and opportunities to learn, grow and advance. Mentorship, in the form of teaming up new employees with seasoned veterans for initial orientation periods, will go a long way to developing drivers that will stick with your company.
All of this isn't about coddling new employees. It's about investing in their future success as drivers for your company.
We know as leaders that businesses that invest in themselves reap rewards, and those that don't, often fall behind. The choice in how to invest in recruiting millennials is yours to make.