Fewer Truck Drivers Looking to Switch Carriers
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The number of truck drivers looking to jump to a different carrier has been decreasing since last year, but that hasn’t stopped recruiters from pursuing them, according to a recent survey.
The Spring 2023 Driver Survey found that just 33.8% of truck drivers were actively looking for a new job, versus 66.2% who were not. That compared with 37.4% who were actively looking during the same time last year and 40.2% in a fall survey.
“The first question that we always ask is if they’re looking for a new truck driving job,” said Scott Dismuke, vice president of operations at PDA. “That 33.8% was lower than maybe I thought, just given the freight recession and drivers really searching for miles and loads right now. That was a little surprising to me.”
The truck drivers surveyed still are being actively sought out by other carriers; however, the survey found that 50.3% are being recruited at least once a week, while 17.5% are being recruited more than twice a month and 16% are being recruited at least once a month. Those being recruited less than once a month stood at 31.9%.
“The biggest takeaway was the importance right now for carriers to really be investing in their brand,” said Priscilla Peters, vice president of marketing at Conversion Interactive Agency. “This is a great time to establish your brand preference with drivers, even though many of them are not looking. They also told us later on in the survey [that] they’re constantly being recruited.”
Peters added that carriers should be investing in retention strategies for their current drivers and recruitment strategies for potential hires. She noted that regardless of who they drive for, drivers will establish a brand preference.
“Showing up in the moments that count is what we normally call it,” Peters said, “because someone’s recruiting your drivers, even if you’re not.”
Dismuke noted that a deeper dive into the data revealed why fewer drivers are looking for a new job — 9.5% of respondents said they’re afraid to make a move with the current economy, while 17.2% are looking to get more experience. If those factors shift, the driver market also could swing, he said.
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“Between the drivers that want more experience or need more experience, and the ones that are afraid to make a move in the economy, we’re looking at about 25% to 26% of drivers that very well could be looking in the next six to 12 months,” Dismuke said. “If you dig into it, there’s some numbers there that can be quite alarming if you’re a carrier from a retention standpoint.”
The survey found that pay and lifestyle issues were top of mind among drivers who were looking for a new job. Predictable pay was a reason cited by 71.4% of respondents, followed by 66.3% seeking more home time and 41.8% wanting more consistent miles.
“I think the key word there is predictable, because in today’s economy — especially today’s freight economy — it might be difficult for carriers to be able to guarantee any type of pay,” Peters said.
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That stands in contrast to the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when demand was high and fleets were raising rates and offering guaranteed pay to attract and keep drivers, she added.
“Predictable pay and better home time are what rose to the top — that wasn’t necessarily surprising,” she said.
Interestingly, responses were nearly split on the question of whether the slowing freight market has negatively affected pay; 50.4% saying it has, and 49.6% saying it hasn't. Dismuke said this data point was a surprise.
“I expected that number to be a little bit higher,” he said.