A recent survey by National Retail Systems, or NRS, a privately owned third-party logistics company, reveals interesting insights into truck drivers' job preferences, including answers to key questions like what attracts them to a job and what compels them to leave one. The results could come in handy for American trucking companies that have been spending sleepless nights trying to figure out the best ways to recruit and retain drivers even as the industry battles a severe workforce shortage. It turns out that drivers don't really care about a company's reputation as long as they get a hefty paycheck, and that a sign-on bonus fails to do what it's meant to do: attract drivers. Here are some interesting highlights from the survey.
Building a loyal team is possible
If you think truck drivers are frequent job-hoppers, you might be surprised by what the NRS found out: Out of the thousands of drivers that it surveyed, nearly 47% have either been at the same job or have changed jobs only once over the past 10 years. Yes, loyalty runs high among truck drivers.
On the other side of the coin, nearly 41% of those polled have experimented with three to five jobs over the past decade, indicating that it's just as easy to find a job in this market if you're not happy with your current one. That perhaps explains the high driver turnover rates in the trucking industry: According to the American Trucking Association, large carriers reported an annualized turnover rate of 92% for the first quarter this year, making it the ninth consecutive quarter with rates topping 90%.
So what compels a driver to look for another job?
Nothing draws workers like money does
Who doesn't like good pay? Salary tops the list of reasons that truck drivers hop jobs. Nearly 79% of those polled by NRS rated salary as the most attractive factor about a job, and roughly 43% left their last job in search of better pay.
That isn't surprising, given the long hours and the challenges that truck drivers have to endure behind the wheel. While high turnover rate is not a new problem for the industry, it's only now that companies are realizing the need to increase wages. Swift Transportation, for instance, announced this past July that it intends to invest more in its drivers now through "enhanced pay packages."
The more interesting takeaway from the above graph is how close home time is to salary as a deciding factor in selecting a job. Family and home are greater priorities for truck drivers now, which means not many are willing to go on long-haul trips that require them to stay away from home, often in solitude, for several days or even weeks at stretch. Perhaps paying out more could again be the solution here, especially for companies that rely heavily on long hauls for revenue.
And if trucking companies believe that their new and sophisticated equipment or intensive on-job training can attract the best of the lot, they may want to reconsider their strategies if the above information is anything to go by.
Relying on technology is a good idea
An equally important question is: What medium should companies use to attract the maximum number of applicant interests for a job? The NRS survey made one thing clear: If you're still relying on the good old newspaper, you're not keeping up with times.
According to the survey, a meager 4% of those polled look at newspapers or magazines to find jobs. Technology has caught up swiftly with truck drivers -- a whopping 79% rely on the Internet as their primary job-search tool. Referrals are a distant second, with 11% share. In other words, trucking companies could consider giving job fairs and newspapers a miss and spend more time on the Internet instead when they're looking to fill their vacancies.
NRS' survey may not provide a definite solution to the driver shortage problem, but as an attempt to delve deeper into the root cause of the problem, it could provide direction to trucking companies as they deal with it. After all, if companies can figure out what drivers look for in a job, they'll be able to create jobs that can find more takers.
Neha Chamaria has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.