Bad habits, bottlenecks, and weak links: Why right now is the perfect time to address your fleet’s recruiting and retention programs

The correction cycle in freight volumes and rates over the past two years has put a temporary mask on the deeper, structural challenges created in a historically tight labor market — and that’s particularly true in the trucking industry. 

Long-term, entrenched dynamics in the market for professional truck drivers are still firmly rooted, and as the current freight cycle fades and an inflationary cycle returns, these underlying structural forces will resurface and amplify the hurdles fleets face in recruiting and retaining safe, qualified, experienced professional drivers essential to your operations.

During the past few years of market swings, fleets of all types have developed both good and bad habits in response to shifting hiring needs. Now’s the time to take stock of those habits and to work internally to evaluate which habits are beneficial and which ones should be abandoned. This proactive approach is essential, because once the market shifts, there may not be the same opportunity to adjust policies to support your fleet’s hiring and retention goals.

Regardless of when the next market upcycle begins, now’s the time for your fleet to thoroughly assess your recruiting and retention policies and programs and to identify and address any weaknesses, bad habits, and bottlenecks before the demand for professional drivers becomes pressing again — and you don’t have the ability to reflect and correct. In NTI’s Six Driver Pay Strategies to Excel in a Down Market (accessible here), we offer insight on where to begin:

Where are the holes, bottlenecks, and breaking points in your recruiting and onboarding process? 

Are applications stacking up on terminal managers’ desks after they’re vetted and approved by recruiting? Can you find areas to improve your time to hire? Are there holes in your onboarding process? Now’s the time to invest in your business, take stock of what’s working and what’s not and to vet your programs and processes to ensure they’re effective before the next pressure cycle circles back around. 

Listen to drivers, recruiters, terminal managers, operations leads, and dispatchers to implement effective policy changes 

Now’s the time to take an aggressive and active approach to hearing feedback from your people and responding appropriately. The market will cycle back, and when it does, your fleet won’t have the opportunity it does in the current environment to react and make policy changes that support your hiring and retention goals.

Want to consult with our team of experts about your fleet’s recruiting and retention policies and programs to make sure they’re in peak form before the next market upcycle? Reach out to the NTI team today

➡️ This discussion about proactively identifying your fleet’s poor recruiting and retention habits was one of six elements found in NTI’s Six Driver Pay Strategies to Excel in a Down Freight Market. Read that free resource from NTI here. ⬅️
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