Could Green Trucking Be The Next Competitive Edge For Recruiting Younger Drivers?


Supply chain woes have been major news stories for the better part of the last two years. One of the most pressing issues is that the national driver shortage is at an all-time high. Estimates are that 80,000 jobs need to get filled for various reasons.

Retiring drivers from the baby boom and Gen X demographic have created an enormous hole, so now it’s more vital than ever to attract younger drivers to our industry. Traditional methods aren’t enough to excite the younger generation about a trucking career.

Yet, green trucking will make inroads into capturing the imaginations of younger drivers. Let’s look closer at how commercial green trucking will help clear the air towards filling the gap.

Understanding The Younger Generation

Attracting younger drivers to your fleet may not be as difficult as it first seems. It begins by studying the generational differences among drivers. For example, drivers were once drawn to companies that offered competitive benefits packages.

We know that a sense of value in an organization and time spent at home were essential features. Of course, an opportunity to drive the newest and coolest equipment was always a bonus. Thousands of job advertisements still reflect these incentives.

Although competitive benefits packages are still of importance, today, drivers have other concerns. Studies show that a staggering 75% of Gen-Zers prefer companies that emphasize safety. Also, they want to work at organizations where the environment is a priority.

Surveys have shown that millennials are more willing to accept a lower wage if the environment is a significant consideration for the business. The younger generation is also more apt to work with an organization that prioritizes safety initiatives and protocols.

Yet, you can bring in younger drivers by showing them the trucking industry is no longer a cloud of exhaust. Advertising a chance to start a green trucking career will have them beating a path to your door. You won’t only attract the Gen-Zs, but mature drivers too.

How To Find Your Green Trucking Advantage

So how do we create a more sustainable fleet to attract a large pool of talent? To start, green trucking and fleet charging innovation are becoming a reality. Yet, the infrastructure is still new and needs a lot of planning.

Even if you can’t create a green commercial trucking fleet right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a response to environmental issues. Now carriers have a host of new initiatives for sustainability involvement.

For example, your team might be working on ways to reduce emissions right now. Invite younger drivers to meetings that discuss ways they can participate in contributing to your overall sustainability mission. Use measurable data in your fleet to help reduce emissions and costs.

Here are some examples of programs that are available to the trucking industry now:

  1. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Program

    The SmartWay program conducted by the EPA partners with all aspects of logistics to address environmental concerns. Together, they measure and benchmark to improve the environmental footprints of operators.

    At no cost to shippers, carriers, or logistics companies, the SmartWay Program provides leadership opportunities for businesses. Not only do your drivers benefit from the initiatives, but customers also recognize your organization as a committed partner in environmental change.

    The way the program works is straightforward. Member companies report fuel consumption data in comparison to other freight carriers. The aggregate information gets used to inform shippers how to improve their activities to reduce their footprint.

    Every aspect of the shipping process works in unison to learn new efficiencies and streamline their operations. Some of those efficiencies might even result in less travel time for drivers.

  2. Paperless Operations

    The days of uploading receipts and stopping to do reports are long gone. Today’s trucker uses scanning devices and data capture to go paperless.

    As a result, bills of lading, timesheets, and mileage logs are all captured by technology. Waste gets reduced, and the forest environment benefits from less paper use.

    The pandemic has accelerated the need for paperless operations. Bills of lading and PODs had to get emailed as social distancing increased. Many other actions which were once taken for granted have also become touchless by necessity, but there are always areas we can continue to improve.

    Take a look at the printed materials your company produces and look for opportunities to create even less paper waste, especially in ways that support ease for your drivers.

  3. APU for Idle Times

    We know the impact idling has on the environment and the cost to the bottom line. Several states have implemented anti-idling laws to prevent the practice. Auxiliary Power Units keep cabs warm or cooled without wasting precious fuel.

    You can add APUs to your fleet in the form of hybrids or electric formats to ensure the comfort of your drivers. Help create a commercial green truck with technology that’s available today.

    For years, the cost of living on the road has been a big issue for drivers. Until electric technology becomes a viable alternative with more infrastructure, saving fuel is crucial. And, of course, it’s evident that fuel savings will come with less idling.

The Promise of Technology

A carrier can only change its fleet as fast as the infrastructure will keep up, but there are states that are beginning to earmark funds for development. Yet, green commercial trucking is not yet a priority for building electric charging stations.

However, there is evidence of a growing sentiment for change. Nine states have implemented legislation to reduce idling. Fourteen more have targeted certain vehicle types.

As more states receive loans and incentives to reduce emissions, an evolution will occur. In time, the green commercial truck will be prevalent. So, the promise to new drivers of being on the cutting edge is a huge incentive.

The Tesla Semi is already a reality and it boasts some impressive credentials. The green truck features autopilot functions and faster acceleration. And a center seating position provides drivers with better road view and control.

When the country does build a network of charging facilities, the cost of entry is affordable. Showing new drivers your company is on the green trucking path may also attract them. There are plenty of avenues for communicating your company’s commitment to the environment.

Communicating Green Trucking To Your Drivers

It doesn’t need to be a challenging transition to recruit and keep drivers with your green trucking message.

Start by informing new hires how your company intends to promote green commercial trucking. Provide “Company Descriptions” on job boards, so all drivers understand your philosophy.

Then, create attractive bonus structures for drivers tied to the environment. NTI’s National Survey of Driver Wages can help you work with drivers to produce savings. Make sure to include “Environmental Bonus Pay” in the job descriptions when you advertise.

Using Media For Your Message

Social media will gain more interest from young drivers if you use the platforms well, so talk about your strategies to educate driver candidates on green trucking. A consistent message is a chance to show your leadership in the industry by celebrating the environment.

Take stock of Environmental Holidays to show your community involvement. Remember that your target generation is a savvy group, so use language on social media that relates to their sensibilities.

Yet, while you are using social media to create a culture, don’t forget to include your existing base. With a plan to address the issue of sustainability, internal communications are critical. Before you get started on social, issue a companywide newsletter that explains your goals.

Then make the environment part of everyday interactions. For example, use eco-reminders at the foot of all internal emails. Messages like “think before you print” are excellent reminders for the whole team.

Encourage the use of reusable dishes and cutlery. Set up a program for separating trash and recycling in the office. Providing meals on site is a small way to show drivers your interest in curbing the inflationary costs of operating.  Add reusable, easy to clean cutlery with recyclable or reusable takeout boxes promoting your initiatives.

Of course, your drivers will have the most significant impact on environmental change, but if every member of the company feels involved in a small way, everybody wins.

The Green Trucking Pay Off

The national driver shortage can be averted if we learn to think like the new generation. As our current pool of drivers grows older, action is essential, and attracting the new generation to a green trucking future has enormous advantages for not only your recruiting efforts, but the environment and your bottom line!

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