The numbers are startling. The U.S. Census Bureau says 56 percent of truck drivers are older than 45. A Truckers News survey reports 54.8 percent have been driving more than 20 years. In 2015, the driver shortage reached 48,000, and if this trend continues, the shortage is expected to climb to 175,000 by 2024, according to the American Trucking Associations. In some fleets, annual driver turnover is more than 100 percent. Over the next 10 years, ATA says, fleets will need to hire 890,000 new drivers. Where will these new hires come from? It would make sense to think the retirement-age drivers will shift seats with the healthy, younger, more-tech-savvy generation. More than 75 million millennials — people born between 1982 and 2000 — are now available to work. Millennials are the largest living generation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But the tried-and-true hiring methods you’ve used in the past are not going to work with these 18- to 34-yearolds. And don’t believe all the negative things you’ve heard about millennials; many of them are already hard at work in a variety of industries. In fact, they currently make up 40 percent of the work force, and that number is estimated to top 75 percent by 2025. Convincing this workforce segment to join your team for the long haul will require overall changes — not just in how you recruit employees, but also in how you retain them. This highly connected demographic grew up with technology integrated into their lives. They rely on social media and mobile apps for the majority of their decision-making. To compete, you have to connect with them in their world and provide them with the tools they expect in your workplace and equipment. Getting social Your Web presence needs to include a mobile-friendly website and social media. Both should be engaging, constantly updated and regularly evaluated. Large companies invest in a social media coordinator, and others outsource to social media experts with industry knowledge. Use social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to tell your story and post job openings. You need to invest time and effort in these sites to make your company appealing to younger job seekers and to demonstrate the kind of corporate culture they crave. Rather than telling future hires how family-oriented and caring your company is, show employees these things via video, photos and testimonials. In the same way hangouts in the real world can be hot and then lose their luster, social-media venues gain and lose popularity. Millennials fl ock to the latest sensation, so you have to adjust your marketing strategy to shift with them. “Social media can really help humanize your company and its employees,” says Jamie Hagen, a trucker from Aberdeen, South Dakota, who is leased to Cliff Viessman, Inc. “It is a way for people who don’t work for you to learn about the people like dispatchers and safety personnel who they will be interacting with.” Hagen has a large following on Twitter and often tweets compliments to his dispatcher or raves about his love of all things Mack truck. A shout-out from a prospect’s peer group is worth its weight in recruiting and image gold. Promoting technology Unlike their baby boomer parents, most millennials did not grow up with standard transmissions in their cars That’s one of the reasons fleets have jumped on the automatic transmission bandwagon. Hubert L. Boulet, president of Boulet Brothers, says he is planning to include trucks equipped with mDRIVE in his next Mack order to both attract drivers and improve their driving experience. “Having mDRIVE on our mixers opens up the pool of drivers we can pick from,” he says. “Anyone can learn how to drive a truck, but with the mDRIVE there is a shorter learning curve. New drivers can feel more confident in their jobs more quickly. I also like the fact that it’s easier on the body, less fatiguing and less stressful,” Boulet says. Early engagement By the time potential hires are old enough to earn a CDL, many have already chosen other occupations. Most vocational tech programs welcome mentors from the construction and trucking industry and many companies extend their outreach to high school age students. Scott Hughes, president of Lakeview Rock Products in North Salt Lake, Utah, is particularly involved in recruiting students through appearances at local high schools and colleges. “We’re trying to show young people that the successful pathway to construction or trucking is not always mud and dirt and hard labor,” Hughes says. “In today’s world, trying to manage time, materials and labor is as much a part of the solution for a building project as being able pound nails and pour concrete,” he says. He believes in offering kids who many not be college-bound the opportunity to at least hear the choices available. As the story of crippling college debt continues to worry students and parents, the vocational options are gaining new respect. Inclusive workforce Diversity rates are extremely high with millennials and is something they factor into their decisions about where to work. An inclusive environment is a must because they want to work in a place where employees are respected regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc. And there’s an additional bonus for you. Studies have shown a diverse workforce results in economic growth and lower employee turnover. McKinsey & Company, a global management-consulting fi rm, found companies in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have above-average fi nancial returns. At the Truckload Carriers Association’s WorkForce Builders Conference, Jane Jazrawy, CEO of CarriersEdge, a provider of online safety and compliance training, discussed the attributes of “Best Fleets,” as determined through a survey by TCA and CarriersEdge. Bulk Transporter reported her comments: “Some of the Best Fleets have bilingual staff that includes driver supervisors, recruiters and trainers, as well as payroll and safety personnel. They also work with drivers to make accommodations for particular religious beliefs, for instance allowing drivers to be home on certain days or not handling products like alcohol or pork.” Corporate values and community service This all plays into the type of culture you project to prospective employees. Millennials look for workplaces with cultures they approve of and will fi t into. Share your corporate values, especially in the areas of employee participation in decision-making, opportunities for employees to express themselves, ways employees are recognized and rewarded, possible career paths and your company’s community involvement. Giving back and being part of some greater good is high on millennials’ wish lists. In fact, more than half of millennials surveyed by Achieve Consulting Inc., an HR solutions provider, said a company’s charitable work influenced their decision to accept a job offer. However, only 39 percent said the company discussed its charitable work during the interview. “Companies need to be much more forthcoming about those initiatives by using social networks as well as the company website,” says Derrick Feldman, president of Achieve Consulting. The report also found 47 percent of millennials had independently volunteered with a nonprofit in the past month and 57 percent want their employers to offer more company wide service days. Volunteerism ranked third behind an organization’s primary purpose and workplace culture in terms of importance to millennial workers.
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