The Mind of the Millennial Trucker
A Growing Segment of Misunderstood Drivers
A Different Approach for Different Folks
A lot of the industry’s challenges around young drivers gets blamed on the latest working generation, but Millennials are just more people after all. When we talk about “Millennials”, we’re really talking about a stereotype of worker that we all can picture but can’t quite put another name to. The first thing we need to understand is that this group of people doesn’t truly fit any of the negative ideas we have about them, they just value different things – just like any person might.
The Millennial Mind
Millennials are (in)famous for their connection to the digital world, but how does that connection manifest itself in the workplace? I believe there are 3 critical differences that technology has cultivated inside the Millennial mind.
A Connected Lifestyle
The first, and maybe most obvious, technology in Millennials’ lives is social media. Despite the (often justified) negativity around social media, this connectivity is actually important for keeping your younger team members connected. According to inc.com, “Millennials are connected to an average of 16 co-workers on Facebook.”
With that in mind, do your drivers engage with at least 16 of their coworkers often enough to connect with them online? This is our first insight into the workplace effects of the Millennial mind – they want connection and collaboration, at least enough to stay in the loop. Inc.com also lets us know that “88 percent [of Millennials] prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one.” As we’ll continue to see, offering connections to coworkers is critical to helping Millennials feel at home.
Quick! Grab the nearest Millennial (or younger generation)! Ask him how to tie on a fishhook. If he doesn’t already know, I can almost guarantee he’ll open YouTube or Google to find the answer. I’ll up the ante and bet that if you watch along on YouTube, in about ten minutes you’ll learn more about tying fishhooks than you ever thought there was to know. Now, imagine that instead of tying a fishhook, your chosen Millennial was searching for information on any part of their trucking job. A Field Agent study showed that Millennials are committed to self-improvement in both their personal life and work, and that commitment to improvement drives frequent research.
Millennials learn first, and they come into any challenge likely having researched enough information to form clear expectations about the highs and lows of the job ahead of them. If you don’t match this pace and clearly exchange expectations as soon as possible, you’re needlessly risking a rapid turnover event due to misaligned goals.
Bonus points: If you haven’t, research your company like a Millennial considering working for you would. Be sure to check YouTube, Google, Reddit, and Glassdoor.
As we just mentioned, Millennials are committed to self-improvement at home and at work. Millennials have a deep desire to improve – both themselves and the world around them. This search for improvement can be seen in two points from inc.com.
1| “92 percent [of Millennials] believe that business success should be measured by more than just profit.”
2| “64 percent of Millennials would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring.”
These two figures tell us something crucial – a fulfilling job is worth a lot to a Millennial. In fact, 64% of Millennials say it’s worth more than $60,000 per year. Millennials don’t often leave a job because the pay is better elsewhere. Millennials leave a job because they feel like they don’t have a path for growth or making an impact, then they pick the new job because it pays better.
With that in mind, what are you doing to give your young drivers a voice and a chance to develop their skills? Great programs fulfilling this need actually benefit your business in two ways. First, you’ll see a dramatic reduction in turnover (both voluntary and involuntary) - and not just among Millennials. Second, your business systems will improve.
3 Common Misconceptions About Young Drivers
Let’s take a look at some common misconceptions about Millennials through the lens of what we’ve just learned about the Millennial mind.
Misconception 1 | They don’t want to talk to you.
I often hear terminal and corporate staff suggest that drivers don’t want to talk with anyone, and that they drive a truck so that they can keep to themselves. While I won’t argue with the belief that many drivers are introverted, as we’ve seen so far, Millennials have a deep need for connection and interaction with their team. Without it, most will leave very quickly. Connecting team members to your drivers regularly will also go a long way towards helping drivers feel heard and ensuring well-aligned expectations.
Misconception 2 | They don’t have realistic expectations
We’ve been heading to this point all along: Millennials have well-researched and clear expectations, they’re just different from the norm. Another point from inc.com says that “84 percent [of Millennials] say that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition.”
Millennials’ expectations are focused around constant improvement. If you can demonstrate a plan (and follow-through) to help them improve themselves or help develop the company, most Millennials will stay with you long term. When a new driver starts working for you, ensure you exchange expectations early, then follow-through on your role.
Misconception 3 | They don’t have company loyalty
You may have guessed by now, but I believe that Millennials are fiercely loyal to a team they are connected with. However, they aren’t loyal to just a paycheck. The data seems to support this, at least in other industries. Inc.com says that “[Millennials are] more loyal to employers than previous generations” and “Millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Gen-X workers did at the same ages; in fact, more Gen-Xers spent less than one year at any one job.”
Pair this knowledge with our previous points about impact-over-money, and it paints a clear picture why many young drivers seem to be ready to leave their companies at the drop of a hat. Millennials are searching for a fulfilling job and team, and once they find it, they stay. This search is why I believe your entire team should be reaching out to your drivers. As more connections between your team and your drivers are built, your drivers’ work improves, and they find it harder to leave your company.
Tie it together: Creating an Action Plan
Ultimately, all this information doesn’t help without action tying it together. Here’s what you should do.
Create a plan that regularly connects multiple team members with each driver. These connections should be two-way conversations.
Ensure that your connection plan includes an early expectation exchange, and that the notes from that discussion are discussed again regularly.
Find a way to get meaningful input from your drivers or give them opportunity for self-improvement. Here are a few suggestions:
- Have a reference log for tricky pick-up and drop-off locations
- Connect new drivers with experienced mentors before challenging loads
- Have your drivers discuss their recruiting and onboarding process with your recruiting marketers (bonus points if the highlights of these discussions are used as video marketing or testimonials)
- Provide professional development opportunities
- Pair professional development with on-going discussions from Step 1
- Circle back on previous conversations regularly
- Gamify improvement with Best _____ Improvement/Suggestion from the quarter
Creating a plan like this takes a lot of work and maintaining it long-term takes even more, but it is well worth the effort. A fleet of 500 drivers with 70% turnover reduced to 40% (a realistic and achievable goal without financial incentives) would save roughly $1.5M annually in hiring costs alone. If you want to skip most of the effort and keep all of the reward, Pivotal Retention’s software can implement a company-specific core retention program like this, driver development plans, and flight-risk response fleet-wide in a much shorter period of time. To chat about whether or not Pivotal Retention is the right fit for your team, schedule a 15 minute meeting with me at this link.Share on LinkedIn ▲