If you stay up-to-date with the latest in the trucking industry, you may have heard some hubbub over a potential freight recession. But is it something that you should really be worried about, as either a driver or a trucking company?
Well, the first thing to note is that there’s really no clear answer on whether there actually is a freight recession.
“There’s lots of argument about whether there’s actually a recession, whether we’re headed into one, or whether we’ve worked our way out of it already,” says Katie Love, Marketing Manager at WorkHound. “What we do know is that there are between 10 and 15 trucking companies that have recently closed their doors unexpectedly. As you can imagine, this causes a bit of concern and uncertainty for both drivers and employers.”
With that in mind, what can companies do to keep an even keel and help drivers maintain a sense of confidence about their employment? That’s what we’re considering in today’s blog.
It’s All About Perception
With any large issue where there’s no consensus about what’s happening — as is the case with the freight recession — whether a problem develops for your company is largely based on how your drivers perceive the situation and how they’re treated.
That means that if your drivers believe there is a recession — even if there’s no recession actually occurring — they are likely to fear for their jobs and livelihood.
For your business, that means it’s even more important to create a sense of stability for your employees.
“In the short-term, drivers are looking for companies with the best opportunities as far as pay and benefits, because they equate these markers with security,” Love says. “If they simply think a company is about to go under, they might jump ship for another one.”
In this scenario, perfectly stable companies may lose team members simply because they haven’t been intentional in their interactions with drivers.
“It’s all based on perception,” Love says. “If a company isn’t communicating effectively with its drivers about what’s going on, drivers may become afraid and look for another company that seems secure.”
What Successful Companies Can Do
Now that we’ve established that there’s a natural fear and trepidation among drivers, we want to help you navigate your next steps. As a company, it’s important to assess the situation for your individual business and work to reassure your drivers and other employees.
Start by getting an accurate measure of what your company’s retention costs are and how much it costs to replace a driver. According to the American Transportation Research Institute, the Driver Shortage and Driver Retention are two of 2019’s top issues.
“If a company doesn’t have a strong knowledge of that information, they’re less likely to retain employees,” Love says. “We encourage trucking companies to always have a true understanding of those numbers. Once you familiarize yourself with those stats, talk with drivers to find out what they like about your company — and what they don’t.”
From there, demonstrate a will to change. You can take some basic steps to improve working conditions for your drivers, which can make a quick impact on retention and instill confidence in your team. For example, things like enhancing the driver’s lounge, restructuring pay, and upgrading equipment can all work to improve your drivers’ overall happiness with their jobs.
But what’s most important is to ensure that the steps you’re taking are the right ones — in other words, that they actually solve the problems your drivers are experiencing. The only way you can make these changes with confidence is to engage your team.
“We have a saying that ‘Communication breeds confidence; silence breeds fear,’” Love says. “Regardless of the state of the recession, it’s important to stay in constant communication with your entire workforce. From a company’s standpoint, communicating with employees, encouraging their workers, and instilling confidence are the biggest things they can do in the face of a potential recession.”
Communication is a two-way street, and WorkHound can help you stay in the know about your employees want and relay company messaging to your employees. Contact us today for a demo!