Tips for countering the Great Resignation in transportation and logistics.

Three TMSA events explore the impact on driver recruitment and provide best practices for hiring and holding onto them.

The transportation and logistics industry is feeling the effects of the Great Resignation the same as every other industry, maybe even more so. After all, trucking was short 80,000 drivers before the pandemic even hit.

The Great Resignation has compounded the shortage for drivers as well as workers throughout the supply chain—at every link from port to pick line and every level of organizations. The same forces that led 4.3 million Americans to quit jobs in August 2021 and 4.4 million to give notice in September have led to “panic recruiting”—a term used by Seth Becker, vice president of recruiting operations at Randall-Reilly, one of the top driver recruitment advertisers in the country.

Carriers are jacking up wages and giving big signing bonuses to lure drivers and warehouse workers. And in today’s labor market, transportation and logistics companies aren’t just competing against each other for hires. As it stands, there are 10.6 million job vacancies in the U.S. economy, according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Trucking companies are competing against everyone from construction companies to ecommerce fulfillment providers for talent.

The other major challenge for employers is meeting new expectations of employees. Greater job satisfaction, work-life balance, advancement opportunities, higher wages and better benefits are driving the Great Resignation movement. Employers ignore these at their own peril. Proof is in the numbers: there are also currently 1.6 million members of Reddit’s r/antiwork thread (the unofficial social media headquarters of the Great Resignation.)

What’s your recruiting strategy for the Great Resignation?

If your job is hiring truck drivers, warehouse workers or managers for any facet of logistics, you don’t need the big numbers to remind you of what you’re seeing first-hand. Things have changed. Hiring and holding onto talent requires an employee-centric mindset and committed, hyper-competitive recruitment tactics. In today’s environment, companies need to learn to treat job candidates and employees more like customers and less like human resources.

TMSA members will have the chance to hear how and share best practices of their peers in TMSA’s upcoming Recovering from the Great Resignation Virtual Roundtable to be hosted by Jill Schmieg, founder and chief strategist of Sol de Naples Marketing on February 17th. This event follows two recent webinars that touched on the topic, TMSA’s Driver Recruitment Case Study with ITS Logistics and Randall-Reilly as well as TMSA’s New Year, New Trends, New Opportunities webinar.

Together, the three programs provide end-to-end insights for how to hire and hold onto drivers in this tough employment market. Here are some of the highlights from recent events:

Driver-centric programs form the foundation of successful driver recruitment.

According to co-presenter of TMSA’s Driver Recruitment webinar and ITS Logistics Marketing Director Patrick McFarland, the Reno-based 3PL has doubled down on its driver-supportive culture and communication practices.

In addition to keeping pace with pay increases (three to four of them during the pandemic) and offering significant referral bonuses, McFarland says ITS upped its driver communication game through a monthly newsletter to drivers and annual town hall for drivers and senior leadership called the Big Transportation Forum. ITS also overhauled their orientation process in 2021. “I know a lot of companies statistically out there, they lose drivers in the first 30 days. And I think a big part of that is if they didn’t have a good onboarding process. So that’s something we’ve really put a lot of effort into and it’s really paid dividends,” McFarland says.

Making the shift to treating drivers more like customers than employees starts at onboarding. Delivering on expectations determines whether the hire will stay. Becker, a co-presenter of the Driver Recruitment webinar, says his firm’s research indicates 83% of drivers who quit shortly after being hired blame their decision solely on the orientation process.

“So many times we hear this. Drivers are told one thing and then they get to a company, and it’s an entirely different experience. We are micro sensitive of that,” McFarland says.
Becker explains that the influence of the “experience economy” is very much at work with truckers today here. Drivers have expectations about service and how they’re treated as consumers in their personal lives that they carry over to their work life, he says.

Employee retention is as important as recruitment in today’s labor market.

The Great Resignation, it’s causes, impacts and remedies were featured in TMSA’s New Year, New Trends, New Opportunities webinar. TMSA Executive Director Jennifer Karpus Romain and BlueGrace Logistics Chief Marketing Officer and TMSA President-Elect Mark Derks provided insights into conditions that have led to this new movement characterized by people taking time to reevaluate priorities and what they want—and with technology, being able to take new paths in their careers, Karpus Romain explained.

She says stresses from the cost of living, day care gaps and everything-pandemic are driving the big rethink. Changes in the perception of work and the rise of the gig economy are opening possibilities for workers, causing them to reconsider, and often quit to go out on their own.

The large number of smaller carriers today is evidence of this. Truckers are redefining the rules by going into business for themselves. DOT data indicates that companies with fewer than 6 trucks make up 91.5% of America’s almost 1 million carriers.

The Great Resignation is leading truck drivers and all workers to look for better conditions and better pay. Derks says companies need to dial up their strategies not just to recruit new employees, but to make sure they remain employees. Increasing pay and benefits are at the top of the list, but so is flexibility. The desire for more time at home applies as much to drivers as those in sales, operations and administrative positions.

Aside from addressing those top three asks from today’s workforce, Derks names two other benefits that companies can highlight in hiring and retaining workers. One is providing the opportunity to work with leading-edge technology. The other is offering paid training. Both are of value to employees looking to grow their careers.

Answering the needs and desires of your people doesn’t end once they’re in the door. In this market, drivers and all employees can always be looking. Derks says the best line of defense against the poaching of employees is what you’re providing in terms of leadership, pay and conditions.

Employee stress is a condition Derks says to keep a close pulse on, too. He mentioned two programs Blue Grace is using to monitor stress and address conditions before they create unnecessary pressure on employees. ActivTrak helps monitor overactivity that can lead employees to burn out and quit. Ginger is an app that gives employees anytime access to behavioral health counseling. Derks says BlueGrace also sometimes outsources weekend work and late night work to relieve pressure on full-time employees.

Keeping workers, drivers and employees happy and healthy addresses the heart of the unmet needs fueling the Great Resignation. It’s only one of many strategies that can help companies work through today’s recruitment and retention challenges and create an employee experience that leads to sustainable success.

Don’t miss TMSA’s Great Resignation Virtual Roundtable on February 17th.

The Great Resignation is one of the biggest and most unexpected impacts of the global pandemic. Its effects on the transportation and logistics sector are distinct and begging to be unpacked. This is a Virtual Roundtable you don’t want to miss. If you’re a TMSA Member, Register here. And if you’re not already a member, maybe this is your opportunity to join?