Trucks at Work

Pay is still the heart of it

I’ve talked plenty of times in this space about the ongoing truck driver shortage in this country (and it’s not just solely a U.S. problem, either) along with some of the reasons why it exists in the first place, despite national unemployment numbers hovering around 8.2%.

The biggest factor, though, remains the pay. Even though average driver pay is now in the neighborhood of $50,000, it’s still not consistent as for most it’s still based on mileage that (no surprise here) fluctuates from week to week. Throw in weeks spent on the road away from family and friends, and it should be no shocker that it’s hard to keep folks behind the wheel of a big rig.

Yet don’t think trucking alone is in the paycheck crosshairs. Indeed, according to a recent study by global human resources firm Randstad, U.S. workers are most likely to identify promotions or bonuses as one of the most effective ways to keep them engaged in their jobs – regardless of industry.

In the latest Randstad Engagement Index, 36% of workers say bonuses and promotions (which typically come with pay increases, of course) are among the most effective motivations. Yet just 27% of those surveyed said their employers actually practice these types of incentives, with only 28% adding that companies maintain a formal system to recognize and reward employees.

That disconnect between employees and their employers is also evident when it comes to performance reviews, noted Jim Link (at left), managing director of human resources at Randstad.

While only 16% of employees rank performance reviews as an effective means of keeping them engaged, reviews are the most commonly practiced employee engagement activity, as indicated by 46% of those surveyed, he said.

Randstad's study also points out where employers are getting it right, too – though not in overwhelming numbers. For example, employees in the survey largely agreed that their employers implement engagement tactics such as encouraging employees to share their ideas and opinions (45%) and investing in employees' careers through training, professional development and continuing education (38%).

[Still, polling below 50% from where I sit isn’t something to cheer about I would think.]

“One of the most challenging obstacles for employers is finding what works for their culture and employees when it comes to keeping workers engaged and invested in their work and the company," Link noted.

"Compensation usually ranks at the top of the list, though our research shows it is important to offer a full package of motivating tactics that not only provide benefits but also promote leadership and professional development,” he pointed out. “This study tells us that employers are doing some things right, but when it comes to finding ways to help boost morale and decrease turnover, relying on annual performance reviews as the only engagement tool is far from sufficient."

Perhaps because many workers have stayed with their employers longer than they planned while waiting for the job market to turn around, nearly a third of employees also perceive having a comfortable and stimulating work environment as one of the most effective incentives, Link added.

However, employees also indicate that it would not take them very long to find a new job. According to the Randstad’s Index, 56% of employees believe it would take three months or less to land in a new position. Trucking knows the effects of this mindset well, as driver turnover is now hitting record levels, in numbers not seen in several years.

"It is important for employers to assess their employees' needs and create programs that stimulate and inspire their workforces," said Link. "An investment now in promotions or bonuses, along with impactful programs aimed at motivating, recognizing and rewarding employees, will help with retention efforts, increase productivity, and boost employee confidence in their companies."

We’ll see how trucking tackles such issues in the months ahead – especially in terms of paychecks. 

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