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Driving Forward Efforts To Recruit And Retain New Delivery Drivers

Thousands of companies across the UK are reeling, both directly and indirectly, from the HGV driver shortage which, according to a survey by the Road Haulage Association (RHA), exceeds 100,000 drivers.

Posted: 26th October 2021 by Finance Monthly
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Annie Button, professional content writer and branding aficionado, explores how businesses are successfully recruiting and retaining new delivery drivers amid the supply chain crisis.

While the HGV driver shortage is based on a variety of factors, including the pandemic, and Brexit, businesses are stepping up their efforts to recruit, train and retain new drivers in record time and mitigate the impending supply chain crisis.

Attracting new drivers

Amid serious concerns about the driver shortage impacting food, fuel and other deliveries in the build up to Christmas, the Government introduced measures to promote HGV driver recruitment both at home and abroad. Almost one million targeted letters were sent to drivers with existing HGV licences to attract them back to driving while 5,000 temporary visas were fast-tracked to help fill HGV vacancies from applicants overseas.

Training qualified drivers

Even with a shortage of drivers and new applicants coming forward, many still won’t be sufficiently qualified for the role. Businesses are solving this issue more directly by incentivising roles by paying for the relevant HGV training courses, offering scholarships or subsidising training. This means that applicants truly interested in a career in this industry can have their training paid for and businesses will have a qualified individual at the end that can fill the vacancy they have available. 

Retaining employees

Now skilled drivers are in such short supply, many businesses are combatting driver shortages by focusing on employee retention. In addition to the driver shortage, recruiters also have the issue of high turnover rates which are common within this industry. 

The way to successful retention is focusing on more than simply providing bonuses and financial incentives, though these are beneficial to encouraging applicants too. There have been many reports in the media of dramatic hikes in salaries which are not sustainable in the short-term. Strong retention rates are linked with the quality of the role and the business, such as having a positive company culture in place, listening and responding to feedback from staff and prioritising the safety of drivers, again highlighting the importance of driver training. Addressing the current driver shortage, the Government also created an extra 50,000 HGV annual driving tests and shortened the application process for such tests.

Lacking diversity

The majority of HGV drivers are men, with women making up just over 1 percent of the current workforce. The male-dominated industry can mean that fewer women apply for roles, as they don’t feel as welcome or encouraged to fill vacancies. For logistics businesses, women are a hugely valuable resource that organisations aren’t doing enough to utilise.

Businesses can tackle this through strategic recruitment campaigns that specifically target women. This includes highlighting the benefits of working in the industry and supporting women with female-centred scholarships that will highlight a career and industry they’ve likely not considered before. 

Working conditions

There’s no denying that the unsociable hours can put people off the industry. To encourage applications and to keep the staff already working in the role, working conditions need to be a focus for recruiters. 

Tackling this issue comes down to providing flexibility and better facilities for staff. This might mean reducing the number of duties employees need to carry out, to reduce overnight stays and being away from home, or providing a better balance in terms of working days and days off. It also means having a clear policy on keeping cabs tidy and hygienic, so that no member of the team is working in a poorly maintained environment, and that lorries are checked regularly to prevent safety or mechanical issues. 

Long-term planning to address an ageing workforce

Once businesses have addressed the short-term driver shortage, there are other challenges further down the road, too. One of the biggest problems that companies face when recruiting drivers is the ageing workforce. Fewer young people are considering lorry driving as a career choice, so as existing drivers retire, there aren’t as many people taking their place and picking up the shortfall. Beyond the high cost of acquiring a license, which has deterred many people from training in this industry, there’s also a lack of understanding of the sector. Young people aren’t being educated about how the logistics sector operates and what the role of an HGV driver entails, meaning it’s less likely to be considered as a career choice. 

To overcome this difficulty, businesses can offer apprenticeships which are a way for young people to gain the necessary skills and experience without having to pay out for training. Engaging with younger people is also a great way to educate them and encourage them to take up a career in the driving sector. Highlighting the benefits that the role offers, providing competitive salaries and delivering a role that offers career progression and fulfilment can all help to attract younger people. 

In summary

The HGV driver shortage has reached critical levels now and is impacting other industries, so businesses have their work cut out for them when it comes to qualified driver recruitment, professional training and long-term retention. Managing recruitment properly is essential to ensure safety and compliance while still filling roles as quickly as possible to ease the burden that the shortage of drivers continues to have on the UK’s overall economic recovery. 

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