Recruiting Truck Drivers in a Pandemic

Before we can begin to talk about driver recruitment, it is important to look at where the industry stands overall especially after one of the most disruptive years our nation has experienced for decades.

Digital marketing firm, Linchpin has captured the 10 most significant statistics and trends that have developed over the past year in the trucking industry.

  1. Highest GDP In the World – The United States currently stands at the number one spot when it comes to GDP from the trucking industry. The GDP of this industry is higher than that of 150 nations in the entire world.
  2. The Job Percentage – The trucking industry takes up a notable chunk of the U.S employee market with more than 5.8% of jobs in the country being related to the trucking industry.
  3. Biggest Employer – Walmart currently stands as a company with the highest number of hired truckers, standing at 8,600.
  4. Total Weight Carried – In the United States, trucks carried approximately 10.8 billion tons of goods across the country.
  5. Preferred Form of Transportation – Almost 70% of the goods transported in the country are carried around by trucks from one state to the other.
  6. Job Diversity – The trucking industry has an incredible amount of diversity with more than 40% of the jobs being held by people belonging to minorities.
  7. Grocery Store Dependence – Grocery stores are incredibly dependent on truck drivers to carry their goods and most grocery stores would run out within three days if truck drivers stopped delivering their goods.
  8. Job Demand – There is an ever-growing demand for truck drivers and experts believe that the trucking industry needs to hire at least 900,000 more people to meet the growing demand for truck drivers.
  9. Annual Income – Despite the large demand for truck drivers, the annual income of those working in this position is significantly less as compared to the annual income of most Americans.
  10. Miles Per Year – Truck drivers put in countless hours into the work that they do, and the average truck driver logs in more than 100,000 miles every single year.

Broad Unemployment Floods the Market

If these trends are accurate, recruiting drivers should be easy, right? The answer is not that simple. The pandemic still poses many challenges including trucking company closures, both large and small as well as mergers to fight the current conditions. Currently, estimated one-thousand truckers are unemployed due to lack of supply movement in the retail market as well as trade limitations and port closures due to COVID 19. Many more drivers have been furloughed.

Because so many drivers are out of work, that means the market is flooded with potential candidates so, recruiting has become a challenge believe it or not. Raul Perez, Recruiting Manager at Boise, Idaho Trucking Company, D&D Transportation Services says that while there may be a lot of drivers applying for positions, efficient and professional drivers are hard to come by and require higher pay. Currently, the average rate is .50 per mile and if you can’t compete with that rate, it’s almost impossible to hire a good driver. He also said they are looking for other things that are more personal and reflect the culture of the company.

  1. Pay Rates
  2. Better insurance
  3. Better benefits
  4. Bonuses
  5. Stay close to home

COVID has forced Recruiters to Field Tough Questions

The requirements above are not new to the industry and recruiters are usually ready with a response. However, the pandemic has forced real action and comprehensive packages. The pandemic has also forced companies to respond in flexible ways during the recruitment process and post-hire. For example, hazard pay has become a demand in some areas of the country. Other practices include:

• Online Orientations • Emergency Health Pay • Recruiting Furloughed Drivers • Hazard Pay • Adjust Travel for Orientation

In a recent article posted by Randall Reilly, the top questions drive candidates are asking during the recruitment process in respect to COVID 19 were as follows:

  1. When traveling for orientation can I have my own room or will I have to share?
  2. Is there any way I can take part in orientation online?
  3. Am I able to rent a car and drive myself instead of taking a bus or flying?
  4. Are you offering hazard pay during the outbreak?
  5. Are you offering any form of extra bonuses for being away from my family during this time?
  6. Is there a bonus for delivering to areas especially impacted by the coronavirus, such as New York City?
  7. How have customers treated your drivers during this time?
  8. What extra precautions are you taking with shippers and receivers to protect your drivers?

Driver Retention Has Increased During the Pandemic

Recruiting is not the only challenge during this time. Retaining truck drivers you already have is critical, said, Perez. Relationship is everything when it comes to keeping good drivers especially when they know that higher rates are offered elsewhere. He goes on to say that a personal connection, experience and longevity of the company, and consistent practices, especially payday is what keeps our drivers loyal. They need to know that communication is honest, and follow-through is quick. Getting to know your drivers should be a priority. Having empathy for their conditions and circumstances goes a long way in building trust and loyalty. That said, many companies have seen improved driver retention over the last year for several reasons but most obviously because of the uncertain outlook brought about by the pandemic. The U.S. unemployment rate surged to 14.7% in April but has since eased somewhat to 11.1% by June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The broad job market is a little scary right now. If you have a good driving job right now, you’re pretty happy, and most drivers are staying put.—Dave Osiecki, CEO of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting>

Max Farrell, CEO of WorkHound, which offers a platform for drivers to share anonymous feedback said, "turnover rates are lower than they have been historically. The grass may not be greener on the other side,” he said, adding that "while drivers may be prospecting and considering another carrier, they aren’t necessarily leaping".

So, while the outlook has been dire, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As the number of COVD cases drop and the number of vaccinated rises, there is hope that the supply chain will shift back to full speed ahead with manufacturing trade to follow suit. Trucking companies like D&D can get back to business as usual, keeping both customers and drivers happy.


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SmartWay Transport PartnerIdaho Private 100 Award WinnerTransportation Intermediaries Association MemberMcleod SoftwareIdaho Trucking Association MemberWomen in Trucking Member