Thanks to the never-ending driver shortage heightened by pandemic impacts on the workforce and supply-chain demand, motor carriers more than ever are seeking every possible way to recruit new drivers and retain existing ones.
The labor pool fleets draw from now consists of essentially two types of drivers: Young ones, roughly age 25 to 30, just joining up and older ones, 50ish and beyond, who may be veterans of the road or have just earned a CDL to launch a new career.
Either way, savvy fleet managers are now leveraging a broad array of technologies to help make their drivers' jobs easier, safer, and more efficient. In turn, the impact of those positives efforts can make existing drivers want to stay and attract new drivers.
The technologies being tapped to improve driver safety and their lifestyle on the road run the gamut from advanced driver assistance systems, workflow tablets, and e-DVIRS to paperless document handling, in-cab fuel efficiency, and video-informed safety coaching.
But none of that high-tech gear will score points without it being introduced and kept front of mind with proper communication, training, and coaching. On the other hand, even the best technology can turn off some drivers, especially older ones who may not be up for much change.
To inform fleet managers on how best to integrate technology in ways that benefit drivers, the editors of HDT are presenting a complimentary webinar on Thursday, March 3, 2022, at 2 p.m. Eastern | 11 a.m. Pacific.
Titled “How Technology Can Help Draw & Keep Drivers,” the webinar is the third in the HDT Driver Retention Series.
Speakers for the webinar are Rick Schmidt, director of human resources and safety for Nussbaum Transportation, and Josh Mecca, director of recruiting for American Central Transport. The session will be moderated by HDT’s Business/Washington Contributing Editor David Cullen.
In his remarks, Mecca will focus especially on the roles played by effective connectivity, communication, and coaching to put tech to work for drivers.
“Leveraging multiple technologies requires multiple communication channels,” he observes. “Often, this is the first interaction a driver has with a tech solution. We’re all kind of learning this together, so it requires a constant two-way communication channel. Regardless of the specific tech.”
Mecca points out that, “We’re all constantly connected, but we as companies have to step up our communication game as well. As a carrier, you need to make sure your candidates are receiving your message loud and clear.” He adds that while “we know we’re hiring qualified candidates, we can always improve. Some drivers respond better via in-person sessions, some do fine with a phone session, and some are OK with taking the self-coaching route.”
Schmidt will delve into several topics, such as how to attract younger drivers, including using social media, training and developing the current driver, and providing continuing education, including with podcasting. He notes that successfully rolling out tech to drivers requires “recognizing the changes that they have gone through, being willing to help them grasp it, and knowing where you can and cannot push back on any resistance.”
He also advises that integrating new tech must be done thoughtfully. “You have to take the time to explain and don’t forget to train the office staff, too; they should know a lot about how these solutions work. When rolling out event recorders, we called every driver and talked with them. If they really pushed back, then the CEO and CFO talked with them. No driver was left out.”