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Do you know what drivers want?

The impact from the continuing driver shortage on fleet operations is indisputable and getting worse. Half of the fleets surveyed in 2006 as part of the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council's lat...


The impact from the continuing driver shortage on fleet operations is indisputable and getting worse. Half of the fleets surveyed in 2006 as part of the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council’s latest research initiative reported a shortage of Class 1/A drivers. And they are clearly paying a price for that shortage.

Overall, 41.5% of fleets agree that the shortage is affecting their ability to move freight. Almost three quarters of those who had trouble filling their driver positions had to refuse or delay the movement of goods, the CTHRC research shows. Almost 40% had to delay or cancel expansion plans.

Six in 10 trucking industry employers cite the driver shortage as one of their top two concerns, up from the 5 in 10 who felt likewise back in 2002. And there’s very good reason to be worried. Driver job vacancy rates have increased to 12.3%, compared to the 9.6% vacancy rate identified back in 2002. Eighty percent of trucking firms now expect the shortage to intensify.

Growing your business in such a labor-constrained environment requires effective recruitment and retention strategies. But how do you build a winning strategy when it comes to driver recruitment and retention? How can you make your company stand out when it’s competing with more than 10,000 Canadian for-hire trucking companies, likely a similar if not greater amount of private carriers, and over 20,000 courier and messenger companies, all drawing from the same shrinking labor pool? And how do you hang on to drivers once you do get them through your doors? Driving is a very demanding occupation – the hours are long, the expectations are high and so are stress levels.

We believe understanding how drivers think – what motivates them, what disturbs them, what pleases them – is central to successful driver recruitment and retention. And that’s the main reason behind our annual National Driver Satisfaction Survey.

Our research division, Transportation Media Research, has spent the past several months surveying company drivers and owner/operators across the country – through e-mail and at industry events – to get to the heart of critical questions such as which parts of their job drivers most strongly feel their employers should recognize and reward; which areas they want to receive more training; and the relative importance they attach to having a say in a range of management decisions. Understanding how drivers feel about such issues should help fine tune human resource strategies.

Taking on a research project of this size is a considerable undertaking and would not have been possible without the help and support of our founding sponsor, Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. and our supporting partner, the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC). It speaks to their commitment to this industry that they have chosen to support such research.

Our greatest thanks goes out to the hundreds of drivers across the country who took time out of their very busy schedules to respond to our questionnaire. Thank you for making our research project a success.

We hope the results of our survey are considered by both fleet managers and the drivers they employ in the spirit in which our research was intended and conducted: as a good starting point towards better understanding the driver-fleet manager relationship and what is required to make it most effective.


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