Truck driver shortage: how to attract and retain top talent with tech


Finding, hiring, and retaining employees has never been easy. 

Now, in the wake of massive cultural shifts and worldwide labor shortages, it’s even harder to attract and retain talent. 

While nearly every industry has been affected by these changes, transportation is perhaps struggling the hardest to find labor. 

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates there’s a truck driver shortage of 100,000 drivers. That’s nearly double the pre-pandemic total of about 60,000. If those numbers sound comparatively small, they’re not. 

Already, the UK has experienced extensive supply chain disruptions due to the shortage of truck drivers, resulting in empty gas pumps and store shelves cleared of bottled water. 

There’s no doubt the situation is critical. 

The complex causes need equally complex solutions, but it’s time for all industries to re-examine their recruiting and retention strategies and update them for the current era. 

What’s causing the truck driver shortage?

To understand what impacts employees’ motivation to work, let’s look at the causes behind the UK driver shortage. 

BBC bar chart of hauliers’ reasons for driver shortage, with the top response being retirement, Brexit, and working rules.

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Brexit

When Great Britain left the European Union last year, it became more expensive for drivers from elsewhere in Europe to be employed there. Without reasonable incentives, many workers left to find better work elsewhere, and their truckloads went with them.

Retiring drivers

Experienced drivers retire each day. The average age of a UK trucker is 55, and only 1% of drivers are under 25. 

The days on the road aren’t enticing to those with families, and the cost of training — as much as £7,000 — doesn’t make it easy for younger drivers to start out. The low driver wages mean drivers can’t support their partner staying home with their children, making it hard to justify the cost to get a commercial driver’s license.

Covid-19

Due to shutdowns of vocational driving tests, only 15,000 drivers were able to complete training in 2020, compared to 25,000 in 2019. There simply aren’t enough new truckers with driving experience to fill the gap.

Solutions to the driver shortage

There have been many attempts to bandage the trucker shortage, but none have addressed the root of the problem. 

Many trucking companies offer one-time incentives to sweeten the deal. Tesco is offering new drivers a £1,000 sign-on bonus and a “market supplement” over a six-month period. Arla is giving a £2,000 bonus if you’re willing to work weekends

While these initiatives may once have been enough for a driver job, it now seems woefully inadequate against the low driver pay, long hours, and uncomfortable long-haul working conditions. Those are problems we see in both the UK and American trucking.  

In a given week, employees are expected to spend well over 40 hours truck driving — or as many as 90 hours in two weeks.  

Theoretical spreadsheet of five weeks of total drive time that would be legal.

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Though exacerbated by the pandemic, the labor shortages are ultimately representative of long-term issues. Short-term solutions aren’t the answer. 

The short supply means drivers now have a moment of leverage. The trucking industry needs lasting, meaningful pay increases, better benefits, and improved conditions across the sector — supported by technology.

Recruitment strategies to attract and retain talent

  1. Provide education opportunities
  2. Leverage your online presence
  3. Use hiring tools
  4. Seek diversity
  5. Stay attuned to their needs

The most successful recruitment strategies prioritize the long-term overall wellness and happiness of your employees. That applies to more than just the current truck driver shortage. It can be hard to provide that level of personalized attention to each employee — which is where tech can do most of the heavy lifting. 

Here’s what we mean: 

1. Provide education opportunities

Studies show employees will be more invested in a business that invests in them. Give staff time to grow into new roles, provide stipends for education and conferences, and offer subscriptions to educational platforms like LinkedIn Learning or Skillshare. 

2. Leverage your online presence

Just like you might scope out a potential employee’s social media, your potential hires’ first interactions with your company will be online. 

Make sure your online channels are putting your business’s best foot forward. Keeping it professional doesn’t mean you can’t lead with your purpose and champion your employees. Consider these survey results from CareerArc when planning your social media for recruiting: 

Top types of trending social content job seekers say make them more likely to apply for a job.

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3. Use hiring tools

If you aren’t using hiring or employment analytics, chances are you’re losing out on better hires. In a study of over 300,000 people, those selected using an algorithm stayed longer — and performed better. 

4. Seek diversity

Only 1% of truck drivers are female. In an industry strapped for labor, you can’t afford to exclude half the population. In addition to improving rest stops and workplace sensitivity training, use blind hiring technology to make hiring decisions without demographic bias. 

5. Stay attuned to their needs

Your employees’ experience after you hire them is even more crucial than during the hiring process. Make sure they have proper training and mentorship during onboarding and have a way to voice their wants and vision within the company. 

Final thoughts: addressing the truck driver shortage — 5 recruitment strategies 

The truck driver shortage in the UK is only deepening, and the best long-term solution is to improve the way drivers are paid and treated. Employers need to provide comprehensive benefits and mindful career support to attract and retain talent. 

Thankfully, solutions to the labor shortage are available. There are several employee engagement technologies that make it easier than ever for companies to improve their hires and retention. 

Lower your turnover rate and empower your employees with Blink. Book your free demo today.