According to a recent survey conducted by our team, 54.2% of recruiting professionals in the transportation industry have had drivers stop driving due to COVID-19 fears.
This is an issue neither the U.S. economy or employers have ever faced, so it begs the question: How have professionals in the trucking and transportation industry dealt with this significant shift? In combination with the historical shortage of qualified CDL drivers, this new fear makes recruiting even more challenging. Today the industry as a whole will need to adopt new ways to attract new drivers, and more importantly, retain the drivers that are already part of this vital workforce.
But where does someone even start to do this in our new world after the COVID-19 pandemic? In today’s market drivers, both actively looking for a new job or passively looking for a better gig, have endless opportunities available to them with fleets of all sizes reeling to keep vehicles on the road. So, what does this mean for you? Companies need to prove and promote that your company is COVID-Conscious. It’s a term you are going to start hearing a lot more of shortly.
To help you get started with becoming COVID-Conscious, our team has prepared some of the best methods companies in the transportation industry are using to attract and retain drivers. Read on to find the top three ways to grab a driver’s attention and keep them driving your company forward.
Why is being COVID-Conscious important?
The business operations of yesterday are forever changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today all companies have had to reinvent their business models and are learning to accept and find new ways to support their customers and employees. Being COVID-Conscious in this “new normal” means adapting to the needs of employees and candidates during this current health crisis. It also means that you are aware of the new challenges that threaten the existence of your business.
Adapting to new norms to make your company COVID-Conscious can strengthen your team and create a stronger foundation for the future. Events such as social distancing orders and extra caution around good hygienic practices can seem like a roadblock in the short term, but there are ways this can make a positive impact on a business’s profit, efficiency, and employee satisfaction.
As of April 2020, 57.2% of companies in transportation anticipate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak will have an impact on their business for the next six months to a year. Businesses cannot wait, or expect, that our society and economy to shift back to the way things operated in the past. Transportation leaders need to put processes in place that keep their business moving forward, such as adapting COVID-Conscious methods to their recruitment and retention efforts. Here are some ideas to help you.
1. Show you are aware of the situation.
First impressions matter. Your business and your recruitment methods need to reflect the changes that have taken place and how those actions are presented to candidates. In this COVID-Conscious reality, that means letting candidates know that things aren’t business as usual.
When active job seekers see your open position on a job board or social media, they should know your company isn’t treating their job likes its 2019. The job of a driver is different now, and your recruitment efforts need to show they are aware of that. This means updating job titles and adding phrases to job descriptions like; “No-touch Freight” or “COVID-19 Safe Delivery”.
Here’s an example of that from a client of FATj.com: McLeod Express.
This may not apply to all companies or load types, but small changes like these will also mean companies have to discuss new delivery requirements with current clients and partners. Promoting no-touch freight doesn’t just help drivers follow social-distancing guidelines, it will also save time by allowing the receiver to unload themselves and give your driver a chance to rest before they head back on the road. Making candidates aware of these changes in a job description shows that your team is adapting to what matters to them, the result is that applications will follow.
2. Be serious about personal safety.
If your headquarters or office looks the same as it did last year, there’s a good chance you may feel a little uncomfortable. That’s because the way people conduct personal safety is taking a huge leap forward right now. Hand sanitizer, face masks, and social distancing are some of the hottest commodities on the market, and your team will look for those types of personal safety accommodations. Whether you are in the office or at the shop, everyone in your company should be taking cleanliness and hygiene seriously.
There are many ways companies are taking extra precautions both at the office and for drivers out on the road. Implementing new COVID Conscious safety measures will help retain drivers, and show employees that you know how important these actions are to them. During a survey in April 2020, FATj.com asked companies in transportation what are some of the extra steps they’ve taken to ensure the health and safety of staff and drivers. The six most common responses include:
- Providing basic PPE such as wipes, gloves, masks, etc.
- Limiting exposure at delivery points
- Educating on sanitation processes for vehicles
- Taking the temperature of everyone entering the office
- Moving interviews, training, and orientation online
- Working from home when possible
One real-world example of these methods being implemented is Bowers Trucking. To show they are being serious about the safety of their drivers, their teams have taken to social media to prove it. Even though people may think candidates and employees expect a safe work environment, doubling down on proving that point will provide that relief.
Here's a video from Bowers Trucking that they recently uploaded to YouTube to explain their position on this:
3. Adapt to how you communicate.
Recruitment leaders have told our team they are already adapting to how they communicate with their workforce. We learned that 60.5% of recruitment teams at transportation companies started working from home by early-April, 2020, which is a significant increase over “normal” business operating models. So how does communication change in a COVID-Conscious workplace?
One of the easiest and most effective techniques that recruitment teams have adopted is conducting online interviews. Instead of having a candidate come to the office, recruiters and hiring managers are using tools accessible from their home, via phone and computer. 65.6% of recruitment leaders are using phone calls for their interviews in the first half of April 2020. We also found in that same survey that 16.1% of people in the industry are utilizing video calls for interviews. Both phone and video calls are great adaptations to make a candidate’s hiring process run smoothly while remaining COVID-Conscious.
Video calling doesn’t stop at just interviews. Another way we’ve seen the trucking and transportation community adapt their communication methods is with training and onboarding classes. Software that was recommended during our survey in April for virtual orientation and training include tools like:
- Google Meet
Adaptations like phone and video calls help keep candidates and current drivers engaged with your team. Virtual methods of communication allow for more frequent and personal interaction with candidates and co-workers. There are certain things you’ll miss out on during remote work, such as water cooler or coffee maker chatter in the break room. That’s why our team strives to over-communicate with each other during times like these, to make sure everyone still feels connected while they may be far apart.
Working in a COVID-Conscious world is something everyone is still getting used to, but for drivers, it’s their reality. People want to feel safe and understood when they work for a company, and it’s the responsibility of your team to make sure you have proper processes in place that can attract and retain drivers during these times. Some of the changes companies are making to ensure the business runs smoothly will become part of the “new normal”. But all of these changes will make a company’s relationship with its employees stronger for the long haul.
Great teams at transportation companies will not settle with these current methods of being COVID-Conscious. They will continue to adapt and innovate new methods of communications, sanitation, and promotion of these efforts. Make sure you and your team keep an open line of dialogue with your drivers and ask them what is working, and what’s not. You can learn from them so you can find out what motivates a driver to stay with your company. The lessons you learn from those who trust your team the most, are the best teachers for how your recruitment efforts can shift to attract qualified drivers.