How can we solve the shortage of drivers in Canada, the US, and Mexico? – The smart way

 In Cadena de suministro, Equipment, Fletes Mexico, infographic, Shipping to Mexico, Supply chain & Logistics, Supply chain & Logistics, Transporte de Carga, Trucking, Trucking

The short answer to solving the shortage of truck drivers is to improve work conditions.

While there is a great number of people interested in entering the truck driver workforce,  the turnover in the industry is extremely high, sometimes it reaches 90%.   After working for a bit of time as a truck driver, many people decide to change occupations due to the harsh working conditions.  This has left the trucking industry with one of its most challenging problems:  the truck driver shortage. 

If you are interested in reading about What is causing the trucking shortage in Mexico, the US,  and Canada? we invite you to read our blog post on this topic. Otherwise, please continue reading to learn about the – not so obvious- strategies that companies can follow to help increase employee retention and reduce the truck driver shortage.

Better management at shipper/ consignee premises

Better logistics equals less unpaid work

One of the things that truck operators continually suffer from is the fact that they do unpaid work. Drivers are paid for the main task they perform of transporting goods from point A to point B. However, there are other tasks they perform that are not considered within their main activities, but take up time for which they are not paid. This is especially true for those drivers – the majority – who are paid per mile.

One of those unpaid tasks includes waiting outside the shipper’s warehouses and making long lines, sometimes without even being able to go to the bathroom for fear of losing their spot on the line. It is not easy to get better planning for loading and unloading as well as delivery and departure times, but it is not impossible either and it would make a big difference in the truck drivers’ work experience.

Access to health and food facilities, dignified treatment

Access to sanitary facilities and places to eat while truck drivers wait their turn outside warehouses or while cargo is being loaded or unloaded is essential to ensuring the satisfaction of the truck driver’s most essential needs. Not being able to count on such basic facilities contributes to the harsh working conditions of the truck drivers. A simple change, such as giving drivers access to facilities that other warehouse employees would use, will make a big difference.

Also, drivers require access to points where they can use the toilets during their long journeys on the road.

After the protests and the momentary recognition truck drivers gained during the pandemic, a cultural shift began to kick in and people began offering access to restrooms and eating facilities, as well as giving expressions of gratitude. However, the momentum created during the pandemic is losing strength and it is necessary to reinforce and continue promoting a cultural change that allows appreciation of truck drivers’ work. 

Organizational support to improve the quality of life and work conditions of truck drivers

People interested in truck driver jobs know in advance that they will be spending time away from friends and family. However, it is only when they actually experience this lifestyle that they realize the havoc it can wreak on both their physical and emotional health. There’s not much you can change about the time truck drivers will spend away from home, but an organizational support network can have a huge positive impact to offset the negative effects.

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health analyzes the influence of work organization, stress, sleep, and organizational support in truck drivers’ lives. We will analyze some of the results and recommendations. 

Work environment support, co-workers

“For Long Haul Truck Drivers, their primary social interactions at work are with their dispatchers/supervisors and fellow drivers, which escalates the importance of these interactions in their overall social environment.”

Spending so much time away from home and away from friends and family, people in the work environment become the main social interactions for truck drivers for several days. The nature and quality of these interactions with work personnel are in this sense of greater importance and influence the well-being of drivers.

“supervisor/co-worker support was found to be a statistically significant factor in perceived stress..”

Truck drivers’ well-being levels – and job retention levels – can be significantly increased by creating a positive work environment, with healthy social interactions that will reinforce stress reduction.

The importance of sleep

In the same study, it was found that

“Sleep had significant impacts on drivers’ work performance as well as their non-work-related activities…. 71.1% of truck drivers felt sleep had at least some impact on their work and 82.0% reported at least some impact on their mood.”

“Poor sleep was especially attributed to specific elements of work-life balance among Long Haul Truck Drivers, and in particular their overall work performance, mood, mental health, and physical health.”

Developing comprehensive programs focused on improving the quality of sleep for truck drivers is a way to raise the quality of their working conditions and improve staff retention. Better sleep has to do with an integral intervention that includes 1) the environment, for example, the warmth of a mattress; 2) stress management, for example by improving the quality of work relationships, 3) healthy habits, such as lower intake of irritants or moving more.

Health care programs

The lifestyle of truck drivers has a direct impact on their health.

On a physical level: Back pain from holding a position for a long time, fatigue, headaches. Lack of sleep, lack of physical activity. 

On an emotional level: work stress due to social interactions or because the driver must have a constant state of alert when driving a large vehicle. Traffic stress or handling in difficult weather conditions on the road.

Food: Excessive consumption of caffeine or foods high in fat or sugar, combined with little or no physical activity.

Given this, programs to improve health are a great opportunity to improve the quality of working conditions for truck drivers and help retain staff.

“Return on investment (ROI) in wellness programs can be seen in reduced healthcare and workers’ compensation costs, a decrease in absenteeism, and higher recruitment and retention rates,” says Melissa Morrett, an independent wellness consultant and former manager of employee benefits and wellness programs for a U.S. carrier.” – Inbound logistics

Reduce the high level of risk

The truck driver’s job is not only stressful, it is risky and dangerous. In Canada, the occupational category experiences 25,000 lost-time injury claims and more than 100 fatalities per year.  In the United States, there was an upward trend in fatal occupational injuries to truck drivers. In Mexico, one of the main risks of working as a cargo truck driver is the level of crime.

Creating a safer environment for truck drivers is a team effort that includes:

The optimal maintenance of the trucks, carrying out inspections before and after each service in an adequate manner, inspecting fluid levels, ensuring the horn works, and testing the brakes in addition to visually inspecting them.

Promoting safe driving practices, such as the use of seat belts, avoiding the use of cell phones, alcohol, and other drugs, respecting speed limits, etc.

Regarding the levels of crime faced in countries like Mexico, some companies have implemented measures to protect their operators, such as the use of geolocation technologies and constant communication with authorities to exercise greater vigilance.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6466152/

https://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/driver-wellness-programs-the-right-thing-to-do/

 

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Marben Acosta Teran oversees the overall international B2B marketing strategy for Mexicom Logistics. She is passionate about building a solid brand while creating useful content for its audience. Marben loves learning more about the industry and being part of the Mexicom family.
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