The route and trucking industry in the United States is in the midst of a severe employee shortage. The American Trucking Association (ATA) noted a shortage of 50,000 drivers at the end of 2015 and predicted that shortage would increase to 174,000 drivers by 2026.
Hiring New FedEx Ground Drivers
The ATA’s own research says the trucking industry needs to hire 90,000 drivers each year in order to keep up with demand.
Low US unemployment numbers (less than 5 percent) further complicate the driver shortage. With so many employment opportunities, individuals can be pickier about the industry and company they work with.
Research shows that the booming construction industry directly competes with the trucking industry for employees. Construction and manufacturing opportunities often pay better with less travel, making the positions more desirable to potential employees.
How can you compete in these economic conditions and hire excellent FedEx Ground drivers?
One of your best sources for finding new drivers is your existing drivers. We recommend offering an employee referral bonus. For example, you can offer your drivers a $50 bonus after the employee they referred is on the team for 30 days. And, and additional $100 bonus after the new employee crosses the 90 day mark.
You should also recruit with traditional online sources such as Indeed and Monster Jobs. In many ways, hiring new drivers is a numbers game. You need to get your opening in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
Retaining Your FedEx Ground Drivers
Not only do these economic factors make hiring new drivers difficult, it makes retaining your current drivers difficult. Research shows that nearly 60 percent of new drivers will leave their current company within the six months after they start.
Extensive “poaching” occurs throughout the trucking industry: offering bonuses and higher pay for drivers to leave their current company. Moreover, the driver shortage often means that companies ask more of their current drivers and fail to keep their hiring promises (miles per week, time off, shift changes, etc.).
With all of this dire information, what can an owner do to retain the best FedEx Ground drivers and hire great new drivers?
Build a Family Atmosphere and a Culture of Loyalty
Difficult days on the job are part of every job. They can feel particularly stressful for your drivers. And they have options to go elsewhere if they are stressed too often. Be sure you have an atmosphere where team members feel respected and can be open with management about their concerns.
When individuals feel as if they’re part of something bigger and they have an outlet for their frustrations, they are more likely to consider themselves as part of a family environment. And they stay on the job longer.
Similarly, be honest with your drivers about changes to their work experiences. If you are going to change their mileage or time off as a result of economic pressures, be upfront with them about how things are changing and how your team can support your drivers through the changes.
Purchase New Vehicles and Maintain Your Current Fleet
When drivers enjoy their physical working environment, they enjoy their job more. While construction jobs offer volatile weather and working conditions, there’s a lot to like about working in a clean, climate controlled vehicle most of the day.
However, that satisfaction will evaporate if the vehicles are old, prone to breaking, and dirty.
Leverage an Incentive Structure
Give your drivers a reason to perform above and beyond. Everyone enjoys recognition and appreciation for stellar work. A few incentives we recommend are attendance bonuses and raises for increased stop loads.
An attendance bonus example: promise your drivers that for every three months they go without a call out they will receive a full extra day of pay. That will keep drivers motivated to get in their seats!
Once you’ve established average daily thresholds for each driver, offer a raise for drivers who can increase their daily stop average by 20 stops (or whatever makes sense for your route). This gives drivers ownership over the efficiency of their day and incentivizes your team to think creatively.
Need more help?
We know recruiting and retaining drivers is hard work. We have experience across the United States managing a fleet of over 250 trucks and a staff of over 200 drivers. This challenge is real for us, too.
If you need help talking through your staffing issues, we’re here to help. Connect with us and we can work one-on-one with you as you navigate these challenges.