Without trucking, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) shows that the wheels of commerce would stop turning and access to consumer products would grind to a halt. The transportation industry is working harder than ever to woo new drivers – but even as they’re investing more in recruitment, wages, incentives, and benefits and easing job requirements, they still can’t hire and retain the truckers they need. 

When employers were having trouble filling vacant positions in every industry in every province across Canada last fall, the trucking industry was particularly hard hit, with vacancy rates of 8% compared to a 5.4% rate for general employment. Despite job vacancies falling in different sectors this year, there’s no end to the driver shortfall in sight: the CTA reported 26,000 job vacancies in September 2022, a record shortage that’s expected to almost double to 50,000 open positions by 2024. This has propelled the federal government to invest millions to recruit and train new drivers, but employers in that industry have to understand their ideal candidates’ needs to attract and retain top talent. 

Turnover and burnout are on the rise

Late last year, Indeed commissioned a global study on job seeker behaviour and found that transportation and logistics employees are feeling frustrated. After years of being asked to work extra shifts to cover for open roles and inexperienced hires (and being paid less than temporary agency workers or new drivers), they are rethinking their work, career, and life priorities.1 This frustration is reshaping the transportation workforce, with CTA’s labour supply forecasting model projecting 7,300 drivers will retire annually through 2023, and an additional 27,000 drivers will leave the profession for other reasons. Moreover,  the majority of logistics workers are considering making an immediate job change, so HR and talent acquisition leaders are left with an increasing number of roles to fill and refill.2

What can companies do to slow the exodus of workers? While nearly half of logistics and transportation employees want a higher salary, money isn’t a one-size-fits-all retention approach. The majority of workers want to strike a better balance – more paid vacation, childcare subsidies, and private health insurance.3

What do transportation and logistics workers want? 

The current workforce has a fundamentally different approach to the meaning of work. They value flexibility and freedom over tenure and job security; they also prioritize self and family over work and wealth.4 It’s not that they don’t want to work. In fact, they’re ambitious and hard-working. However, they want to work on their terms, at jobs that let them set their own schedules, making them feel like they’re part of the family and showing appreciation beyond incremental pay raises. Most of all, they want to work in a nice environment for companies that align with their values, are open and honest, and reward loyalty5 – and they want to shift to more local routes that give them more time at home.6

Need drivers? Here’s how to attract them – and retain them

How can you overcome the labour shortage and start attracting more drivers? Some general trends are emerging across several industries; companies that embrace flexibility, invest in their company culture and employer brand, are transparent throughout the hiring process, and reward flexibility are coming out on top. 

Start by creating a brand story that positions your company as a desirable employer. Remember that crafting a good brand story isn’t just about telling a good story: it needs to spell out your company’s brand mission and values and communicate what makes your company a great place to work by creating an engaging, authentic narrative that appeals to job seekers.   

It doesn’t end with a good brand story, though. You also need compelling job descriptions that are consistent with your brand story and reflect your brand’s personality while showcasing what it’s like to work for you – and you have to target the right candidates at the right time in their job

search. Finally, once you’ve got the right new hires in place, check in regularly to make sure your workforce is happy and satisfied that you’re delivering on your end of the employee-employer bargain. Not only will you have a happier workforce – you can slow turnover, improve retention rates and attract more top talent who will keep the wheels of commerce turning. 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Source: « Understanding job seeking behaviour in UK, US, Canada & France » commissioned research by Curious Industries for Indeed, June 2022.