Your Guide to Hiring Gen Z Drivers & Combating the Truck Driver Shortage

Your Guide to Hiring Gen Z Drivers & Combating the Truck Driver Shortage
Mariah Barr
11 mins read

DOT compliance software can help you recruit and manage the next generation of employees who drive. 

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – turnover in the trucking industry is at an all-time high. 

But there’s a solution to it and the truck driver shortage: younger, happier, and more confident fleets with a strong foundation built by Generation Z CDL drivers. 

Gen Z is described as those born between 1997 and 2012 and just beginning to start their professional careers. Getting them to start a career in trucking could potentially save the industry, as this generation made up 32 percent of the global population as of 2019, according to Bloomberg. 

How can we get these individuals to join the trucking workforce and enjoy lifelong careers within it? The answers may be found in things your company is already doing, and if not, they’re simple changes you can make. 

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Below, we’ll cover some of these changes and explain the impact they can have: 

  • Why today’s truck safety technology appeals to Gen Z 
  • How to create a better safety culture to keep the next generation of drivers around longer 
  • How to attract Gen Z drivers to your company during the recruiting process 
  • Where Dash, Foley’s new hiring and onboarding software, ties into each of these initiatives 

Let’s dive into what makes Gen Z truckers tick. 

What the experts have to say about Gen Z CDL drivers 

President and CEO of The National Transportation Institute, Leah Shaver, built her career around focusing on the lifespan of the professional driver — from pre-hire to retirement. She shared this point about the transition the industry is experiencing at FTR’s 2022 Transportation Conference in Indianapolis, and she hit the nail on the head: 

“We have to understand that we have four generations of folks working today and that the oldest of them are slowly and surely exiting the system. We have to not only understand that the job has changed but that the folks doing the job need different communication, they have different expectations, and they have a lot of other options.” 

The world of transportation has drastically changed since today’s retiring drivers first sat behind the wheel. From new technology to new mandates and regulations, there’s so much more involved with taking on a career of such importance and promise. 

But that means there’s more to offer to the next generation of drivers as well; improved safety precautions to reduce risk, better equipment to operate, and better pay as companies need to grow to keep up with demand are all on the table for Gen Z, and hopefully, eliminate the truck driver shortage. 

According to a study on incorporating younger adults into trucking careers by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), both small and large fleets ranked raising compensation as the most effective retention strategy for their younger drivers. Younger drivers also communicated they were attracted to the industry by the income potential over the span of a stable career, as opposed to just in the short-term. 

It’s all about how you present these opportunities to up-and-coming employees so you can have a better chance of successfully hiring them, building a bigger, long-lasting fleet, and avoid falling victim to the ongoing truck driver shortage. Here’s how to do it. 

Take advantage of technology

Gen Z is used to using technology in nearly every part of their lives. Most of them don’t know a world without smart phones or tablets, unlike today’s truckers who likely used landlines and remember when the internet first came about. 

This approach should be intertwined with your company’s efforts to attract Gen Z drivers. You may already have the technology you need to reel them in, such as … 

  • GPS systems – Younger, inexperienced drivers may feel safer and do their jobs better if they have specific routing programs guiding them to their destinations. 
  • ELDs – Not only does your company need them to be DOT compliant (as long as these exemptions don’t apply to you,) but ELDs also reassure drivers that you care about their safety, well-being, and that they take their well-deserved breaks on time. 
  • Truck safety features – From parking assistance and speed monitoring to emergency braking and in-cab cameras, today’s trucks have extras like these you can install to improve driver safety, reduce accidents, and potentially save on your insurance premiums. 
  • MVR monitoring – Keeping track of drivers’ habits and potential violations with MVR monitoring means you prioritize safety. In turn, you should thank and reward those who don’t commit driving violations. 
  • Hiring software – Can your drivers apply from their phones? If so, you need to highlight this in your job ads. This also ties into driver qualification file management software, which you should already be using. More on this below! 

Using these technologies also ties into your company’s safety culture, and ATRI’s report found that a whopping 84 percent of younger drivers consider company culture important. 

By making safety a priority, you’re not only showing your employees you care about them, but you’re also taking steps toward reducing accidents and protecting your company from serious lawsuits – some of which can result in multi-million-dollar settlements. 

Improve Your Safety Culture Now

Even one of these so-called “nuclear verdicts” can be a major financial setback for your company, or even lead to a complete shutdown, meaning no more jobs for your drivers. Using the above technology is a vital sign of job security for your drivers – and gets every company on the right track to tackle the truck driver shortage. 

Encourage lifelong learning with continuous training

ATRI’s study shared that 20 percent of younger drivers believe that training could be improved by providing better instruction for the trainers themselves. 

The report also found that 14 percent of young drivers wanted more driving time and variety. Having more mentors with different (positive) job perspectives combined with additional time behind the wheel is the ideal recipe for Gen Z drivers to do their jobs well. 

This mindset of wanting more frequent and better training may piggyback on the FMCSA’s Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program, which was originally passed in January to allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce and alleviate some of the strain caused by increased demand. If you’re interested in taking part in this initiative, you can find out more about it in this article. 

The study mentioned that carriers with an apprenticeship program found their younger drivers feel confident that their carrier is invested in the continued development of their skills as drivers, which ultimately lead to better retention rates.

Make sure you’re updating your training materials on a regular basis and encouraging your “expert employees” to freshen up on the latest industry regulations and best practices. The job performance and confidence of your trainees rests on the shoulders of your trainers! 

Use hiring & onboarding software 

Like we said earlier, Gen Z uses technology all day, every day. They should be able to apply to your driving positions on the same mobile devices they depend on while ensuring you get the information you need to make a positive hiring decision. The secret to this is a DOT-compliant, mobile-first job application. 

A good candidate experience is key to keeping young drivers interested in your company. If the application process is less than convenient, they won’t stick around, and you’ll lose promising talent. 

Start Using a Driver-First  Job Application Now

Foley’s driver-friendly application allows candidates to apply from their phones, save their progress at any point so they can complete and submit the application when it’s most convenient for them, and upload their CDL and medical cards. If you hire them, you can then build their driver files with our driver qualification file management software. It’s a win-win situation! 

Attract & manage Gen Z drivers with Foley’s DOT compliance software 

Dash, Foley’s new driver hiring, onboarding, and management solution, is designed with Gen Z’s preferences in mind. Trust us, you’ll want Dash in your DOT compliance software arsenal. 

Schedule a free demo of Dash to see how our driver application can cut your hiring time in half (if not more) and catch the attention of the next generation of truckers. 

With Foley on your side, your company will have the tools it needs to grow with the best drivers the industry has to offer!

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