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How to appeal to millennials

Truck companies have to start appealing more to millennials.
/ Industry News & Trends /

By: Phil Sneed

By the end of 2015, millennials will be the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, according to a study by Elance-oDesk.

Generational and demographic trends are important to take into consideration by those within the trucking industry, particularly when hiring new drivers. The American Transportation Institute found the average age of truck drivers is currently 45 years or older, many of whom are expected to retire within the next 10 to 15 years.

Coupled with the current driver shortage, and despite the industry being stronger than ever, fleet managers and others involved in the industry must appeal to younger individuals looking for a career. The group that has to be heavily courted are the millennials, a generation with a mindset that differs from older workers.

"Fleet managers and others have to start appealing to younger individuals."

Appealing to millennials
The millennial generation comprises of individuals who were born between 1982 and 2000. The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported 83.1 million U.S. citizens are part of this generation.

Every generation grows up in different periods that ultimately shape their ideals and beliefs. For millennials, the defining moment in their upbringing was the Great Recession, and they're still dealing with the aftermath to this day. In addition to high levels of student debt, numerous young workers are still struggling to start their careers.

Trucking provides a viable option for those unsure of where to go. Shipping companies, however, have to specifically appeal to these workers, and this will involve plenty of research and potentially moving away from years-long industry standards.

In an interview with Fleet Owner, Sandy Rosenfield, manager-operations for Fleet Advantage, said millennials specifically look for companies that hold the same values as they do. Likewise, these workers don't like to be micro-managed, nor do they want to work long hours.

As a result, changes to long-haul shipping might be in store. Millennials want to to maintain a sensible work-life balance. According to a study from the Harvard Business Review, approximately 75 percent of respondents want to have enough time for their personal lives. Companies believing they can change minds by offering more money will be met with resistance as well.

A study from Intelligence Group found 64 percent of those under 35 years of age would rather earn less money than to make six figures at a job they don't like, or consider boring. As such, companies can appeal to potential hirees by guaranteeing they'll be able to go home every night, because according to CNBC, drivers prefer regional jobs.

In an interview with the media outlet, Brian Fielkow, president of Houston-based Jetco Delivery, said drivers don't want to sleep in trucks anymore. They want to spend the night in their own beds.

Changes needed
As such, truck companies have to evolve to become viable career starters for millennials. Those that don't risk falling behind their competitors. Some trucks are no longer using manual transmission, as newer, younger drivers don't want to drive stick. In an interview with CNBC, American Trucking Association chief economist, Bob Costello, said this was not the case a few years ago.

One such way is to incorporate millennial feedback and study the generation's specific traits. Millennials are overly reliant on digital technology and this is an area that some companies are already incorporating. Tools such as satellite television and safety system telematics are being installed in semi-trailers. When looking for new drivers, companies should highlight these perks, Rosenfeld told Fleet Owner.

"We need to advertise this to the Millennial driver," she added. According to Rosenfeld, doing so feeds right into their wants.

Another possible solution exists in the form of electronic logs. While debate still centers over this technology, young drivers are likely to appreciate less time spent filling out logs. This feeds into their desire for a good work-life balance, which still applies if they're on the road and want to have a video call with loved ones.

"Truck companies have to build a strong culture and invest in drivers."

How to find millennials
Companies at this point may be wondering where to find potential millennial hires. Human resource personnel and fleet managers have to turn toward the same tools young employees use on an hourly basis, and according to CIO, have to follow some general guidelines, starting with strengthening the digital brand. Whenever a new job has been posted, millennials will first do an online search of the company. If their search doesn't turn up on a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn page, they'll quickly move on. The same applies if a trucking company's online services are not filled with much meaningful activity.

Yes, it might seem like millennials are picky. That being said, this generation differs from how their grandparents and parents operated. According to RecruitFi founder and CEO Brian McCagg, millennials are simply adapting to a more agile economy. To attract and retain talent and shorten the driver shortage, truck companies have to build a strong culture and invest in drivers.

In an age of transparency, companies have to be upfront about the job. During an interview, highlight the benefits of the trucking lifestyle and how new technologies are being implemented. Carriers, shippers and fleet owners have to specifically advertise to the millennial generation, as they will be relied upon in some form to alleviate the driver shortage.