The 4-day workweek. Permanent work-from-home. Flex time. All are measures under consideration by large swaths of U.S.-based employers as they face a jobs market that is favorable to employees, many of whom have had their perception of what makes “a great place to work” shifted by the pandemic. For the trucking industry, the situation is similar and a bit more dire.
Truck drivers move around 71% of the U.S. economy's products across the country - a challenge to accomplish in the face of driver shortages, as the industry has lost 6% of its workers since the pandemic began and struggles to recruit.
Likewise, the American Trucking Association reported that this sector is headed for a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2030, and the need for one million new drivers over the next 10 years. Prior to the global pandemic, annual turnover at big trucking employers averaged 94% between 1995 and 2017. And that’s before COVID upended the supply chain and increased demand for drivers, as well as heightening the pressures they face. The pandemic exacerbated long standing workforce challenges in the trucking industry, including high turnover rates, an aging workforce, long hours away from home, and time spent waiting–often unpaid–to load and unload at congested ports, warehouses, and distribution centers.
Flexibility shouldn’t just be for office workers. If more employers, including trucking companies, truly embraced flexible schedules and allowed employees to work at the times that are best for them, the benefits would be a healthier and more productive, creative and loyal workforce. We at JLE have also embraced this theory.
How does JLE address this important issue?
The new paradigm created by the supply chain turmoil and low labor force participation (aka “the Great Resignation”) is the concept that retention is the recruitment strategy. Leaders in the trucking industry need to create efficiencies by reworking organizational structures enhanced by investments in technology, agile process improvement and focus on employee retention.
JLE Industries prides itself on being at the forefront of technology in the flatbed trucking industry. As such, we have developed and implemented DriverOSTM, a proprietary, digital dispatch and intelligent load planning platform that modernizes the flatbed trucking industry. The flatbed industry has historically been driven by an analog forced dispatch model where the Professional Drivers have limited visibility and control over their freight options; we believe our Driver talent should have a strong voice in these decisions and the opportunity to add valuable insight into the freight selection process. JLE’s technology-driven platform empowers our Professional Drivers to make decisions that benefit their interests along with those of the company.
The DriverOS platform provides a data-driven decentralization of the load-haul value decision making and puts control in the hands of the Professional Driver Fleet. Custom-built algorithms are used to provide our drivers with load selection options that optimize their weekly pay, home time expectations, and miles driven, all while creating a clear line of communication and visibility with their Fleet Managers to enhance their overall driving experience. Using this kind of technology, JLE and our team of OTR flatbed drivers have access to the information they need to deliver freight on time and to be in control of their schedules in a way that makes the best sense for their personal lives.
Recruiting New Drivers
Late last year, we launched the JLE Driver Talent Ambassador Program (DTA). This program supports our professional flatbed talent to allow them to get the most out of their referral efforts and create additional income streams while building connectivity and engagement with JLE. Through our research, we learned that 60% of drivers polled said that, when looking for a job, the most important way to research a fleet was to “Talk to a Driver from that Fleet.”
The easiest, most expedient way to facilitate this was to incorporate DTA into our DriverOS platform, and since then it has helped us greatly grow our candidate pool.
From the highest level, our vision is to build a platform that can deliver long-term growth with massive efficiency. With DTA as part of our DriverOS, our professional flatbed talent refers our company to other professional flatbed talent. It is a continuous stream.
Aligning the team behind something as powerful as our “moral imperative” -- to Enable the Driven by creating better tools, systems and environments, for the Professional Flatbed Talent to become the best versions of themselves, to create a road to independence through DriverOS, and vesting them in the value decisions of what they do – is potent. We have turned our Drivers into active ambassadors.
As global and domestic supply chains find the new norm, to succeed logistics and trucking companies will need to embrace more flexibilities for their driver talent and increase recruitment and most importantly retention of loyal employees. We at JLE are committed to that path - and our Professional Flatbed Talent agree!