I was asked to put together a “short” article for the ATA S&LPMC’s informer magazine on what drivers will need 10 years from now, and initially it seemed fairly simple. More Pay, Better Hometime, the usual.
However, as I began to spend more time analyzing and discussing with other members in the industry, it became apparent that this was not as simple as initially perceived. First of all, most people in the industry I spoke with were still trying to figure out what drivers want today --much less 10 years from now.
What Will the Driver Population Look Like in the Future?
To know what drivers will need 10 years from now (and what driver recruiting techniques will be needed), you have to know what the pool of talent will look like.
The baby boomers will be practically non-existent. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but if you currently look at most fleets, the majority of their drivers are from this generation. The baby boomers are the last generation that exhibit a lot of patience, do something without questioning, are willing to be away from home for extended periods of time, or who will just except the statement “that’s just trucking – live with it.” They also tend not to be information “junkies.”
10 years from now, the pool of potential drivers will be completely different. In order to attract people into our industry, we will need to change how we do business today. We will have generations of people operating our equipment who want instant gratification, will not accept excessive sitting or downtime, will want all the information they can get, will not be afraid to question authority, and who will not hesitate to go somewhere else if their needs are not addressed.
Recruiting the Next Generation of Drivers
Technology will be very important to the next generation of drivers. They will want every new gadget that comes along. They will want immediate feedback on performance.
Current performance evaluation programs, such as our Driver Scorecard Management System (similar to a quarterback rating for drivers), will have to be scored instantly, not monthly. Performance management systems will start to feel more like games, where drivers strive to gain the most points possible, competing to see who’s the best.
Successful Driver Recruiting in This Population
With regards to driver recruiting and retention, the most successful companies will have to address issues that previously were non-existent or just accepted as part of our industry. The changes I see as needing reform to recruit new drivers include:
The next generation of drivers will want to be paid via direct deposit as soon as he/she has finished his/her delivery. Owner operators will have ability to see whether or not they are making money as they drive down the road with technology using fuel mileage, out of route, truck expenses and a cost integrated with income downloads – they too will want to be paid upon delivery.
Loading and unloading
Technology will be used to get this done in a more efficient and timely manner, working with shippers and trailer manufacturers.
What’s a shipping paper?
Shipping papers should become non-existent. From electronic monitoring, electronic seals, and electronic billing, and built in scales on the trailer and tractor, the driver will have very little experience dealing with freight issues.
1st come 1st serve? Or Appointments within a few hours? No way.
Drivers will expect carriers and shippers to develop technology to improve these issues. I envision a device on the drivers dashboard (and dashboards will not be anything like they are now) letting him/her know not only when they will be arriving (technology will route around delays), their expected time to back into /drop trailer at the unloading facility.
What’s a forklift driver?
Dealing with forklift drivers and their issues will become less and less common with technology for loading and unloading as well as robotics and drones capabilities are improved and implemented.
More information will provided with more graphics and visual displays of data. Car manufacturers have already discovered that newer generations love this technology, and trucks will not be any different.
Can You Keep Up?
Don’t think these changes will happen that quickly or be that important in driver recruiting? 12 years ago we had “you’ve got mail”. We never even knew what a “G” was 5 to 6 years ago, and now we’re up to 4Gs and counting. Change keeps happening quicker and quicker, and those who take the time to anticipate and be the leaders will reap the benefits, and those that don’t… maybe you’d be interested in buying some stock in Blockbuster Video?