Treat Truck Drivers Betterby Jana Ritter - Published: 8/14/2014
With the economy driving forward, the demand for truck drivers is growing even more and major industry players are campaigning a critical message to reduce turnover: “Treat Truck Drivers Better”.
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Even the Wall Street Journal is getting on board to spread the word today with an article citing a recent blog post by William P. Townsend, Ryder’s Group Director of Labor Strategy, who wrote that “Drivers are a precious resource. Once on board, “the next step is to keep them happy and loyal.” Townsend explained that the key to happier truck drivers is to improve their quality of life. He says that while some companies promise truckers predictable home time, a recent survey indicates that it still lacks as a top priority.Townsend also said rather than just find people to fill the “jobs”, companies need to start shaping trucking into career path with defined expectations, future goals and the ability to transition into other positions at the company. He cites David Abney, who drove a truck early in his career and is about to become chief executive of United Parcel Service Inc. as the perfect example.
Townsend’s blog also pointed out that some companies are improving benefit options and vacation policies, which is another good incentive to retaining valuable employees in any sector. It goes without saying that truck drivers also want to be treated with respect and feel like they are a part of the company they are working for. But the biggest common sense strategy to retaining drivers has also become the unspoken elephant in the room and Townsend says that it’s time the industry comes together and addresses it: money.Thin margins and low labor costs have been part of the business model, but as the demand rises and supply tightens, employers need to find ways to pay up to keep drivers.
As Ryder employs 6,000 drivers retainment has been a top priority and with the company reporting record earnings it seems Townsend words should be taken as wisdom.
One of the biggest industry players, the American Trucking Associations, has also taken their own strides to move the momentum for truck drivers. Recently they made a $100,000 commitment toward the Trucking Moves America Forward campaign, an initiative aimed at building political and grassroots support to strengthen the trucking industry by educating motorists and policy makers on the benefits of trucking.
“One of our most important jobs is to tell the trucking industry’s story,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “There’s so much to know about the safety, the essentiality and the sustainability of this industry and Trucking Moves America Forward has been designed to do just that.” The TMAF has raised $700,000 toward its fundraising goal of $1 million by the end of the year.