In the last year, the logistics industry has been defined by staggering shortages, backlogs and disruptions fueled by the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Supply chain bottlenecks have been rampant due to increased consumer demand, scarcity of essential goods and spikes in freight rates. Nearly every business has been affected by these disruptions, with over 60% of small business owners saying they’ve had to adjust their supply chains. Nearly half reported that supply chain disruptions are making it difficult to keep up with consumer demand. In turn, individual consumers are paying higher prices and encountering shortages of goods and essential items like food.
On top of these challenges, the American Trucking Association estimates the logistics industry will face a shortage of over 800,000 drivers. To overcome this shortage, the industry must attract as many as 1 million drivers by 2030. And although the driver shortage has drawn plenty of attention in the last two years, the pandemic was not the genesis of this crisis. Rather, the driver shortage continues to be propelled by an aging workforce, with the average age of truck drivers being 46 and demanding work conditions. Drivers, particularly long-haul drivers, experience exhaustingly long work hours and inefficient operating procedures, such as requesting and managing finances manually from the road.
As the industry that keeps America moving, we must take immediate steps toward change and pivot procedures to better support existing drivers while attracting and retaining more drivers. While right-sizing an industry-wide need won’t happen overnight, we can take immediate steps to improve conditions and help future-proof the supply chain. One way to do this is with technology.
Smart digital tools can optimize processes that increase efficiency, boost the driver experience and ultimately improve revenue margins. Although the supply chain and its critical truck drivers have historically been underserved by solutions that address their specific needs, new tailor-made tools are emerging that can help ease driver challenges, support long-term job satisfaction and retention and help prevent future driver shortages.
To successfully attract and retain drivers, fleet owners, carriers and other trucking companies must adapt to meet the needs and desires of younger drivers. As Millennial and Gen-Z generations, these drivers are overwhelmingly tech-savvy and expect innovative tools at their fingertips. Gen-Zs are “digital natives,” meaning they have been deeply influenced and are entrenched in the modern technology landscape. To attract this new era of drivers, we must understand what they want in terms of solutions, how they use technology, and how the supply chain can benefit from adopting this tech.