It’s often been said that today’s trucker is nothing like the trucker of years gone by. If a 30-year driving veteran breaks down along the side of the highway, he’s likely to get out of the truck, figure out what the problem is, fix it and be on his way without complaint. The new driver is much more likely to stay in the cab, call dispatch, wait for help to arrive and then maybe even chew out the mechanic for good measure.
Yes, that may be a broad generalization and there are exceptions. However, it’s difficult to deny there’s a different mentality amongst younger workers, and it isn’t unique to trucking. The younger generation, as a whole, is more interested in maintaining a comfortable lifestyle than in working long hours and maximizing earning potential. It used to be folks lived to work. Now they work to live.
This trend has not gone unnoticed by Mark Seymour, president of Kriska. He noted during a recent Driving for Profit seminar (hosted by KRTS Transportation Specialists, NAL Insurance and sponsored by SelecTrucks), that maximizing asset utilization has become increasingly difficult, due to the mindset of today’s driver.
“You just can’t assume anymore than when you assign a driver to a truck, that utilization will be maximized,” Seymour observed. “With no disrespect intended to people who drive trucks, the older guard lived to drive. Today’s new generation driver is lifestyle-motivated. If they worked somewhere else five days a week making $40,000 and they come here and can make $40,000 in four days, they’re not interested in making $50,000, they’re interested in that day off.”
This was evidenced by an incentive program Kriska launched in an effort to improve its asset utilization. The company offered a penny-per-mile increase to drivers who ran 10,000 miles per month (legally, of course) rather than 9,500 miles. “It did nothing” for asset utilization, Seymour said. But it did serve as a good retention tool for the veteran drivers who took advantage of the program. Most of the younger drivers opted not to – they wanted that extra day at home.
“They decide how much money they need to make and then they work backwards,” Seymour said of the young guard. “God love’em.”
It’s an interesting quandary. With the current cost of equipment and slim margins, fleets need to keep the wheels turning as much as possible. Meanwhile, younger workers have little interest in working 14 hours a day, seven days a week. By and large, they simply don’t share the same work ethic as their seniors. I don’t know how this is going to shake out in the years to come. Trucking companies will need to find a way to balance the lifestyle requirements of the younger worker with the need to maximize productivity. Maybe Nintendo Wiis and iPods in every cab?
On another note, the above comments attributed to Mark Seymour were made, as noted, at a Driving for Profit seminar. It was the third such seminar in a four-part series held across Ontario this year. I attend a lot of these types of events, and I have to say that the Driving for Profit events are among the best in terms of value and content.
I wasn’t able to attend this edition of the series, however colleague Adam Ledlow videotaped it and I watched it in its entirety. Watch our WebTV program Transportation Matters for segments of the seminar in the weeks ahead and check out upcoming issues of Truck News and Truck West. Mark Seymour was surprisingly candid about a lot of topics, offering many practical tips that other fleets can put to good use.
Seymour and his sidekick, Len Armstrong of KPMG, have been added to the fourth installment of this series to be held Oct. 21 in Toronto. At $50, including lunch, it’s money well spent. If you wish to attend, you can register at www.drivingforprofit.com. And no, I don’t get any kickbacks for plugging this event. Well, maybe a free lunch.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies