Can Youth be Served?
How does the trucking industry appeal to the youth of today? As older drivers age out of the workforce and companies and carriers struggle to fill empty trucks, is there a way to reach a younger generation of commercial and expedite truck drivers?
The trucking industry currently has a prime opportunity to change its image and brand itself to a new generation of drivers. Exiting the pandemic, truckers and delivery drivers have become highly regarded as the general public now has a greater understanding of just how important a role in transportation really is. So, carriers should be capitalizing on a refreshed image and use this time in the spotlight to reach a younger crowd of drivers.
A recent survey of drivers aged 18 to 25 years old states that one of the conditions young drivers think about when considering a professional driving career is the importance of company culture. These younger drivers claim to dislike cutthroat work environments and prefer a more collaborative environment where management, dispatchers and other drivers can view themselves as partners and teammates.
Some carriers are conducting more frequent surveys in an effort to better understand their younger employees, addressing their satisfaction and concerns with current business practices. Many of these drivers have identified several practices for building a better community-driven culture.
A common misconception applied to those of the Millennial and Gen Z eras, is that kids these days are lazy and don't want to work for anything. However, perhaps an alternate viewpoint would be that today's generations are smart and more in-touch with their own self-existence. Therefore, these young men and women would much rather uncover an occupation that breeds contentment and satisfaction with a job well done, as opposed to endlessly being tempted by the almighty dollar.
Young truckers indicate that they appreciate managers or supervisors with whom they can develop a professional relationship born of a mutual respect. An atmosphere and a feeling of joint contribution to a company instead of simply being viewed as a cog in the machine. Carriers are also actively bridging the communication gap between employees and management by conducting routine in-person management check-ins. This is good for the wellbeing of all parties involved.
It's also been stated that younger employees who feel more trusted, better informed, and fully invested are more likely to remain with their carrier over a longer period of time. Less turnover creates higher job security and satisfaction, and that's something that doesn't differ between age groups.
Experienced drivers in a fleet or at a carrier should be able to provide coaching to younger drivers as they participate in an apprenticeship program, and then progress and continue on as company drivers. Carriers that support the development of such relationships between younger drivers and veteran drivers are likely to experience improved retention rates.
People, even the younger crowd, seem to be more open to constructive criticism when it's coming from a place of proposed improvement rather than one of scolding and punishment. Working together and providing vital feedback, in a constructive way, can help build a better atmosphere and keep driver turnover low.
Finally, younger drivers have often mentioned their desire for casual opportunities to converse with their colleagues, such as in a break room or a driver's lounge, where conversation can naturally occur before and after shifts. Granted, this isn't always possible with most over-the-road driving positions but it's something worth a carrier's consideration.
To help simplify the means to improved communication, carriers should want to develop opportunities for the groups to interact. These groups could be drivers of the same age range, but also mixing in veteran and lesser-experienced drivers within an environment that encourages discussions and learning opportunities can help to build an atmosphere anyone would want to take part in.
So, the next time someone disparages the younger generations as they search for their place in the workforce, remember that we were all once at that same point in our lives and it would've been nice to have such support and backing.