The average age of professional HGV drivers in the UK is between 50 and 64 – and it’s well known that this sector of the working population is getting older. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the number of young HGV drivers has also fallen. By June 2021, there were approximately 52,000 HGV drivers aged up to 35 years old – almost 4,000 (7%) less than in the year ending June 2017.
With the older generation of lorry drivers continuing to approach retirement, transport and logistics firms will encounter increased competition for the remaining pool of HGV drivers. Therefore, it’s crucial for these firms to develop more strategies to attract and recruit young male and female HGV drivers. And that means putting more effort and attention into appealing to millennials, since they value different things – they can’t necessarily be enticed to join the industry with the usual methods.
In this article, with the help of millennial driver Peter Barham (23 years old) from Driver Hire Colchester, we’ll discuss why this demographic is significant, understand their values, and provide effective recruitment tips on how we can shift their perceptions of the industry.
In 2011, it was predicted that by 2020 millennials will make up more than 50% of the global workforce. And researchers were on the right track, as this year, think-tank Resolution Foundation – cited in Yahoo Finance UK – reported that the UK is set to experience a huge shift in their workforce as millennials outnumber retiring baby boomers. Attracting the best within this target demographic is critical to the future of any business. Millennials’ career goals, attitudes regarding work, and knowledge of new technologies will define the culture of the 21st century workplace. And when such a large portion of the workforce is dominated by this demographic, it’s vital that employers hone their recruitment strategies to appeal to the next leading generation in the working world.
The way we work is changing, and in particular millennials, value different things in the workplace. They no longer expect to work the typical nine to five or spend decades in the same job before retiring. For instance, research by Deloitte has shown that 50% consider flexibility “very important” when choosing a job, and 43% of millennial workers intend to leave their jobs within two years. Therefore, with these cultural and social changes, transport and logistics companies will need to demonstrate agility and adapt to these shifts, in order to drive continued success.
Many traits of the millennial age group have been informed by the fact that they have grown up during a period of remarkable technological change – witnessing the mainstreaming of the Internet and social media. This has equipped millennials with adept technology skills and made them more socially aware and accepting than former generations.
According to Indeed, the most common traits shared by the millennial generation include:
Peter’s core values when applying for a job in the transport and logistics industry are very much in line with the research by Indeed, as he said his top “musts” are:
“A good work-life balance… Good training. I mean training to use different bits of kit but also career development… Bonuses. It’s good to be rewarded for loyalty, good driving and generally working to a high standard… To know you’ll be working for a company that cares about safety, cleanliness – basically running a quality operation that you can be proud to be a part of.”
With the characteristics of millennials in mind when it comes to work, attracting this demographic to join the industry and become an HGV driver requires new approaches. Transport and logistics firms will need to put in place the following effective recruitment tactics:
Millennials have grown up with new online technologies, so it should come as no surprise that their preferred method of communication is through online platforms, for example Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as digital job boards.
Transport and logistics companies who find creative ways to use video and other forms of digital content to communicate their values, culture and opportunities will maintain a competitive edge over less agile competitors, when it comes to appealing to young HGV drivers.
Peter believes employers need to work harder to show people the benefits of working as a lorry driver:
“Firstly, employers and the industry as a whole need to be better at showing people the positives of this kind of work – I think a lot of people just don’t see them and focus on things they think of as the downsides.”
Working as a lorry driver may seem like ‘just driving’ on the surface, but it’s so much more than that, so make sure to highlight this to the next generation of applicants. Peter told us his favourite things about his job extend much further than simply driving:
“I also just really enjoy travelling, seeing the country, visiting different places and meeting people… and, because I do agency work at the moment, I like the variety of driving different vehicles.”
Peter advises employers to offer a number of other benefits too if they want to attract millennials:
“Competitive salary, safe, clean vehicles, decent work-life balance, training…”
He also believes that having trust in employees is important too:
“… if someone’s good at their job, let them get on and do it.”
In general, it’s good practice to make sure your application process is efficient, even more so when it comes to a younger pool of applicants. Millennials are more tech-savvy than the current average lorry driver.
Your job application process needs to be mobile-friendly, since it’s more than likely that a younger demographic will access the vacancy through their smartphone. It’s also important to make sure the job interview has unique elements and is interesting. Instead of asking the common, classic questions, ask about activities that may not be on their CV and get to know the individual. What younger applicants may lack in work experience, they may make up in volunteering activities, academic studies, or life experiences in general.
Remember to take convenience into consideration too when it comes to interviews – you could interview over the phone or via online video platforms like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Above all, always be transparent about matters such as work-life balance, wellness benefits, company culture, and so on.
Work-life balance is important for creating a healthy work environment. Not only that but it also contributes to boosting the productivity levels of employees. Statistics released this year show that two-thirds of UK employees (66%) believe work-life balance is vital in their decision to apply for a job, yet a third (31%) are currently unhappy with theirs. And this is irrespective of whether younger drivers are married or single, or whether they have children or not.
Most millennials have very active and social lives, and therefore need to be in a career that supports this. And Driver Hire in Colchester are facilitating exactly that for their employees – a healthy work-life balance. Peter not only gets to work a job he loves but also continue doing all the things he loves outside of work too:
“…a Monday-Friday routine is best as it fits in with my family and life outside work. I like my football, motorsports and so on at the weekend and I can fit that in fine with this job… even if you’re not an agency driver, there are plenty of opportunities for flexible working and the chance to choose a shift pattern that works for you.”
Everyone recognises that the logistics industry works to tight deadlines and highly organised schedules. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to strike a positive balance between the needs of your company, your customers’ needs, and those of your employees. Making work-life balance a priority in your company, and then highlighting it in the minds of millennial applicants will help you stand out from the competition.
Millennials have grown up with technology, and for the most part, the transport and logistics industry has embraced technology overall. But make sure to emphasise how your business has incorporated technology into equipment and practices. Whether it’s using delivery management software for creating optimised delivery routes to improve fuel efficiency, online training platforms to upskill drivers, or Zoom / Microsoft Teams to check-in with drivers, showing how your company is current and possibly even ahead of the curve will always appeal to millennials.
The pandemic highlighted the essential role lorry drivers have, as they supply us with everything that keeps our society running – and that spells job security! Peter is a big advocate of this, and one of his favourite things about his job as a lorry driver is:
“… you really get to see how many different sectors we support – just about every industry relies on road transport at some point.”
In good times or bad, lorry drivers will always be needed, meaning they’ll continue to earn when others may not. So, make sure to recognise the essential role drivers perform in your recruitment process.
Of course, any age demographic will care about compensation when it comes to their career. However, when it comes to millennials, they don’t just care about salary, there are other elements that they care about equally or greater too. If you want to recruit a younger group of lorry drivers, make sure to focus on the bigger picture.
More than just salary, millennials will be interested to hear about the benefits that your firm offers, in particular wellness benefits. Such an initiative can attract millennials by busting the myth that a career as a lorry driver can take a toll on health and fitness. In fact, maintaining health and fitness whilst on the road is as doable for commercial drivers as it is for anyone else. You need to strive to reverse the idea that lorry driving is an unhealthy and sedentary career. Putting in place initiatives that focus on finding ways to eat right and stay fit will show applicants that maintaining good health and fitness is achievable in the industry, and that it’s also one of your company values.
On the topic of company values, you should always highlight yours, as millennials want careers with greater meaning and purpose than former generations. In fact, research by consultancy firm Global Tolerance, conducted a survey of more than 2000 people in the UK, and found the following:
Initiatives such as career development opportunities, mentoring programs, and employee appreciation events will nurture a sense of belonging amongst employees. Encouraging time off for travel, pet-friendly policies on the job, or upgrading fleet amenities shows that your firm cares about their employees’ individual needs.
It’s tricky to generalise the feelings amongst such a large and diverse group of individuals. However, some common themes have emerged, as demonstrated in the research included above regarding millennials and their attitudes towards work. And this has meant that going above and beyond simple advertising will bring about more effective recruitment results.
Transport and logistics companies must find creative ways to utilise social media to communicate their values, culture, and opportunities. Not only that, but firms need to adapt in line with the times – millennials are driven in their career not only by financial stability but also passion for their career, wellness benefits, work-life balance, and so on. And if they don’t feel valued in their job, they won’t hesitate to move on. Therefore, firms must implement these values within their own offering, to get a jump over less agile competitors.
At the same time, you can advertise and market all you want, but if you can’t deliver then it’s essentially worthless. You can’t fake that your company has a positive culture and takes into consideration the values of their employees. So, look at how your firm is doing things, particularly where new commercial driver hires are concerned. If needed, think about investing some time and resources in reviewing and improving your practices around onboarding, managing, and training. Investing in millennial drivers will mean investing in the future success of your company.
At Driver Hire Training, we can help you secure a career as an HGV driver. Once you’re qualified, we can then provide all the necessary ongoing training, for example the Driver CPC. In addition to this, our sister company, Driver Hire Nationwide, is one of the UK’s largest specialist recruiters – so we can assist you in finding the perfect job too!
If you’d like to talk to us about how we can kickstart your career as an HGV driver, call us on 0808 178 9977 or chat to one of our agents right now.