Solving work-life balance conundrum for drivers necessary for recruitment

What’s more important when people are looking for a job or career; how much they get paid or having a work-life balance?

I’m sure the answer would depend on the individual, but in the never-ending discussion on the driver shortage that has consumed the narrative during the past few years, it seems like some believe that the answer is simple – pay drivers more money and that will help ease the problem.

I’m not so sure this is the case.

Yes, it’s nice to get a bigger pay cheque, and no one I’ve ever met would complain about getting more money. There is, however, a lot to be said and desired about occupations that can provide a work-life balance, particularly in this day and age.

Like it or not, today’s worker is not the same as previous generations, and that’s not to say they are any less productive. A lot of generations from the past – Baby Boomers, Traditionalists, and even Gen Xers – have the notion that because they work longer hours, stick with one employer, or perform more physical workplace duties that it means they are somehow a more valuable employee and harder worker.

Granted, they may be harder workers, but that’s only because in decades past they had to be. Today’s technology and the overall nature of how the workforce is made up have changed the landscape of the occupational options that are available in 2018 and how those occupations are performed.

The expression “work smarter, not harder” has never rang as true as it does today.

Industries like trucking have suffered mightily because of the very nature of what the job entails. Aside from the lucky drivers who work regionally and are home every night with their families, being a truck driver means being away from home, working long hours, being alone, and leading a relatively unhealthy lifestyle.

The very nature of being a long-haul truck driver is exactly the opposite of what the majority of today’s potential workers are looking for in a career.

Work-life balance has never been more important than it is right now.

Carriers may be able to increase their pay, as some have, and see some positive results, but long-term, I doubt the simplistic monetary strategy will work.

The more conferences I attend, the more I hear how better salaries are great, but finding a way to improve the work-life balance for a driver is the key to unlocking the door to the next generation of drivers.

So how can the industry provide a better work-life balance to long-haul drivers and still pay them a decent wage?

It’s not easy, and I wish I had a simple answer. Shorter, more regional routes, where loads are transferred at certain check points to another driver, is one idea. But would this end up driving up transportation costs, which would trickle down to consumers? Perhaps.

Another opinion out there is that at some point, autonomous trucks will replace the long-haul driver, and the only human drivers will be regional. Is autonomous the perfect solution to the driver shortage?

It’s strange to contemplate a trucking industry where long-haul routes are performed autonomously while short, regional routes are done by human drivers who go home each and every night.

But unless someone comes up with the solution to improving work-life balance for truck drivers to complement improved pay, it may be the only way the industry will thrive in the future.

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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  • Some industries such as mining have a 5-5-4 work schedule which is: work 5 days, off 5 days and work 4 days and carry on the 5-5-4. That gives a worker 2 weekends at home per month and good work-life balance. The 5-5-4 schedule could easily be adopted by the trucking industry if they are serious enough to to make truck driver a viable career choice.

  • There is not much to say about finding a real solution on work life balance I did get a driving job Canada only from west to east for a transport company’owner operator who wanted some time off to enjoy his family and basically life. So we did work like a team but solo I would do one trip that would last at least 10 days and while arriving at the main yard we would switch and it was his turn.
    The money was good for the owner and descent for me, since the truck would be moving seven days a week. I did like it and was happy to work for this owner op.

  • 40 hours a week x 52 weeks = 2080 hour per year so a driver @ 70 hours a week need only work 30 weeks a year for the same money sounds like work-life balance
    to me.
    $25.00 per hour x 40 hour = $1000.00 /$52 K per year.
    Or 70 hours a week for 30 weeks 22 weeks off same hour worked. So work life balance.
    Or if you work the 22 weeks all overtime…