One lingering effect of the pandemic on businesses is ongoing labor shortages. There are many reasons for this, including the large number of working-age people who succumbed to COVID-19, the even larger number of individuals who have become ill and been temporarily unavailable, and many others who simply chose to leave the workforce.
Transportation companies—and transportation departments within companies—have not been immune to labor issues. In fact, many of those that come to us to rent or lease semi trailers share that they continue to struggle with workforce challenges.
And the problem isn’t tied exclusively to the pandemic. Our industry is also being impacted by an aging workforce coupled with a lack of younger people pursuing transportation careers. As senior workers retire today, it’s much more likely that nobody is waiting to fill the void.
Staffing challenges can be especially problematic in the transportation industry compared to many others. In office environments, for example, it’s common for people to be cross-trained to a degree. If one person is out for an extended period, others can temporarily step in to handle their work responsibilities. However, if a truck driver misses work, it’s much more difficult to replace them, as not just anyone can hop into a big rig and haul a semi trailer across the country or even just across town.
Fortunately, from our experience and that of our customers, there are several steps transportation companies and departments can take to reduce their staffing challenges.
Short-Term Staffing Tactics
If you’re finding it hard to attract and retain employees, consider using some or all of the short-term strategies below.
- Review your hiring requirements. You shouldn’t make it too easy to join your team. You need to have skilled, trustworthy people handling your transportation needs. But you may find when reviewing your job postings that certain criteria could be modified or eliminated.
- Reassess your pay and benefits. Are your compensation and benefits packages keeping pace with industry trends? If not, updating them may attract more applicants. Even simple changes like a slightly higher rate for weekend shifts can make a difference in how candidates view your company.
- Streamline your hiring and onboarding. Being understaffed is stressful for everyone. The faster you can get people hired and onboarded, the more quickly that stress is reduced. Safety is still essential, of course, but accelerating your processes where you can is helpful.
- Recruit from new labor pools. Do you conduct outreach to veterans? Students about to graduate from vocational schools? If not, maybe you should. Sticking with the same recruiting methods and labor pools can mean ongoing staffing issues.
- Engage with candidates on new platforms. Transportation companies and departments that have historically used one online job posting site frequently find that connecting with candidates on other sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) can increase interest in open positions.
Medium-Term Staffing Tactics
In addition to short-term strategies for finding the right candidates, you should consider medium-term tactics. For example, you can:
- Create a referral program. Good employees tend to have friends and family members similar to themselves who might also make great team members. Offer incentives to your workforce for referring people you ultimately hire.
- Increase your employee retention efforts. The easiest way to fill open positions is never to have any! Consider new and better ways to keep your current employees happy. An excellent way to find out what employees want is to ask them using an anonymous survey.
- Provide more flexibility. Employees today are more focused on work-life balance than ever before. Giving them more control over their schedule can provide the freedom they want and need to meet personal commitments and enjoy family activities.
- Focus on employee development. Nobody wants to stagnate in their role. People who feel like that’s occurring will frequently decide to go elsewhere to pursue new or greater challenges. What skills do your drivers, warehouse personnel and others value, and what types of training and experiences can you coordinate to make them achievable?
- Improve working conditions. You can do this by implementing technology that makes a person’s job easier, focusing on reducing safety risks, providing access to mental health programs, etc. Something as minimal as updating your breakroom or other facilities a bit can show employees you care and encourage them to stay with your company.
Long-Range Staffing Tactics
Staying on top of staffing challenges requires implementing long-term strategies for finding and retaining top talent. For example, you should:
- Develop relationships with local organizations. Being involved with schools, charitable organizations, civic groups, etc., helps build trust in and respect for your organization—both of which are important to people looking for new jobs or considering a career in transportation.
- Identify and support future leaders. Companies that promote from within benefit from that approach in many ways. For instance, it ensures managers understand the challenges people throughout the organization face. It also shows a commitment to professional development that’s appealing to many younger workers. In addition, customers tend to favor companies that recognize and reward exceptional employees.
- Become an evolving business. Companies that are “stuck in their ways” may find it harder to attract new employees. This isn’t to say that old-school values and traditions aren’t important or should be discarded. But you can retain the best of your company’s past while simultaneously positioning it for success in the future.
Reduce Labor Requirements by Renting or Leasing Semi Trailers
Finding ways to stay fully staffed is essential. But you can also help yourself by needing fewer employees. Many of your customers do that by letting us provide the rented or leased semi trailers they need to meet their transportation requirements when they need them.
Owning less equipment means you need fewer people to maintain it. Plus, reducing costs by not paying for unused semi trailers sitting idle on your lot means you have more money to invest in the tactics above!
Learn About Boxwheel
If fast, efficient access to top-quality trailers can help your company operate “leaner,” we’ve got the flatbed, dry van, reefer and other trailers you need. Learn about our large equipment inventory from trusted manufacturers like Wabash, Utility, and Great Dane. Contact Boxwheel Trailer Leasing today!