MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Attracting talent is a concern for almost every trucking fleet in North America.
Today, it’s not enough to just put a job posting online and cross your fingers, or to go through the many resumes on your desk to find someone to fill the seats.
Trucking needs drivers and to get them, fleets are having to be more creative.
At this year’s Truck World, the country’s largest truck show, which ran from April 19-21, more than 100 carriers exhibited to help bolster their recruitment efforts.
Attending Truck World and other trade shows and job fairs is just one of the ways Challenger Motor Freight is strengthening its recruitment.
“We don’t say ‘No’ anymore,” Geoff Topping, vice-president of human resources for Challenger said of requests from existing drivers. “We don’t have the wiggle room. We don’t say ‘No’ to drivers, we say, ‘How can we make this work?’ We have a lot of divisions, like reefer, flatbed, van, local, oversized, bulk…so if someone is unhappy with their route or schedule, we go ahead and transfer them accordingly to fit their lifestyle.”
On top of this, Topping said the company has created a polishing program to help train new hires without certain experience with a specific type of freight.
“So, if you don’t have experience in flatbed for example, but you’ve been driving with us, then you can go through the polishing program to learn how,” he said. “And we’re doing this because we have to. Today we are feeling the shortage on both the number of applicants and the quality of drivers applying. Experience is an issue, too. People don’t want to have this lifestyle anymore. The younger drivers want to be home more.”
Most recently, the company has started a new marketing campaign to help attract drivers, based on what Challenger calls “The first class experience.”
“It’s first class pay, first class benefits, first class people, first class safety, and first class training,” Topping explained. “It’s based on those pillars and we really believe we have all of those things to offer when you work for Challenger.”
The program is still new, so there aren’t many figures the company can turn to right now, but it is hoping to attract the right drivers.
“Retention is also important to us,” Topping said. “Because once we find drivers, we want to keep them. We have a multifunctional recruiting and retention team that includes people from every department, and drivers. They meet bi-weekly to discuss issues that are going on and where they can improve.”
As well, recently Challenger rolled out a driver survey to find out what it could do better as an employer.
“What we found, more than anything, was that the drivers wanted us to reach out more to the families,” Topping said. “So now, we’re mailing out communications directly to the home address. So, if there’s a change in benefits, we send that communication notice to the home address, as opposed to emailing it out. For new hires, we send a whole welcome package home. It has a welcome letter, information about pay and benefits, employee discounts…things like that so their family can feel part of Challenger as well. We are a people first company and I think the whole company has really got behind that.”
Joseph Haulage, a fleet based out Stoney Creek, Ont., was also one of the many recruiters at this year’s Truck World.
Kellen Miseferi, the company’s human resources generalist, said, like Challenger, the company is having a hard time finding drivers.
“At the beginning of the winter season we were really struggling,” he said. “The talent pool is shrinking and the average age of drivers is going up, with millennials not interested in driving as a potential career choice.”
To help its recruitment efforts, Miseferi said Joseph Haulage is doing a number of things.
“From a compensation angle, we’re offering arguably some of the best benefits in the industry. We pay our drivers well. There’s a good opportunity to support yourself and then some. We also offer things like RRSP contribution matching,” he said.
As well, when it comes to online job postings, Miseferi said Joseph Haulage is taking a branding approach.
“We’re updating our job descriptions to be more appealing to a younger crowd,” he added. “We really try to stay away from the typical, standard job posting, to be able to market our brand in our job postings.”
Miseferi said Joseph is also looking at partnering with accredited driving schools to hire recruits, but the company’s latest success has been in keeping its current drivers happy.
“We recently started doing one-on-one meetings with drivers once a quarter,” he said. “So, a driver will meet with all divisional managers once every few months and have an informal talk about their goals – both personal and professional – and how we can help them achieve those goals. We’ve gotten really great feedback from them. And it’s really helped us as far as our retention. The one-on-ones have been a really big win for us.”
For Kari Ranonis of Arnold Bros. Transportation, the key to recruiting lies in the ability to train new drivers.
“What we’ve done is we’ve taken training to new level,” she said. “We have a leading mentorship program and we have our own training academy that new drivers can take when they are hired on. That’s a way that we’re trying to take on the driver shortage. We hire new drivers and train them ourselves.”
Arnold Bros. also looks for talent overseas and will hire and train new Canadians to become professional drivers.
“We recently increased our rates, too,” she said. “We did a deep analysis into other companies in the industry that have a similar business model and we tried to position ourselves competitively on pay rates. So, we have new rates and new lanes to attract new drivers and existing drivers into joining our company.”
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