Trucking Trends for 2021: What We’re Expecting

What will 2021 bring? Well, if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that predicting even the immediate future in trucking trends can be difficult! 

But even though we know that everything can change suddenly, our team at WorkHound has seen some emerging trends in the trucking industry this year that we think will stick around. 

One of those is based on a bigger trend outside the industry: It’s that e-commerce is on the rise. In fact, an October study found that e-commerce spending was expected to reach $794.5 billion by year-end, an increase of more than 30% over 2019.

All of that shopping online leads to an increased need for shipping, which, in turn, directly impacts the trucking industry. It’s a shift that isn’t expected to go away any time soon, either: A recent article published by FreightWaves discusses the fact that up to 90% of people are likely to continue making purchases online and having them shipped to their home even after the pandemic resolves.

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With this sharp increase in shipping traffic come some distinct driver needs. Read on to learn what we expect to see in 2021 trucking trends.

Innovations Around Pay

“Pay” is a common trend in driver feedback, but when the economy fluctuates as it did in 2020, the topic is amplified.

Drivers have many questions and concerns around pay, including hazard pay and a lack of driving time. Other common concerns include issues related to benefits and to detention, layover, or other versions of penalty pay.

How companies solve those issues — and allay driver fears and concerns — is important.

“Based on what we saw with drivers in 2020 and the essential needs of drivers, pay will still be a hot topic,” says Katie Love, Marketing Manager at WorkHound. “But it will remain a hot topic in the same way as usual, ‘pay’ is really confusing. In 2021, I predict we’ll continue to see companies come up with more innovative solutions regarding how pay is handled and ways to address driver confusion.”

Enhanced Communication

Effective communication is an important piece of the puzzle for any working relationship. And when seemingly everything is changing, communication becomes even more important than normal.

Establishing meaningful tools, like WorkHound, that help establish two-way communication between drivers and trucking companies is essential. 

“The carriers that came out ahead in 2020 are the ones who are finding every possible way to quickly and frequently communicate with drivers,” Love says. “I think we will continue to see companies looking for new and innovative ways to communicate and gather feedback.”

An Emphasis on Home Time

As drivers will likely spend more time on the road to handle increased shipping traffic, it’s vitally important for trucking companies to keep a careful eye on their well-being. Ensuring drivers are able to enjoy home time is an essential part of that.

“Carriers are going to be finding better and more consistent ways to get drivers home time, which was the most urgent topic of feedback in 2020,” Love says. “There are a lot of reasons for that. But we know that too little home time leads to exhaustion, and is one of the biggest causes of burnout in drivers.”

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Not prioritizing ample time off can lead to serious issues related to safety and retention — and may even trigger a reduction in the overall talent pool.

“If drivers don’t feel like they’re getting appropriate home time or that they’re missing important family moments, they may look to find a job outside of the industry altogether,” Love adds.  

Making Drivers a Priority

No matter what’s ahead in 2021 trucking trends, we’ll take one thing with us from 2020: a renewed appreciation for the incredible work that drivers do each day.

“Regardless of the circumstances, drivers remember how they’re treated in trying times,” Love says. “It’s important now more than ever to be highly intentional about how we treat our workers. Empathy is critically important, now more than ever.”

Looking for tools to improve your communication with drivers in 2021? Sign up for a free demo to learn how we can help.