It’s no secret that truck drivers are in short supply. With high freight volume and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the process of training and onboarding new drivers has become even more challenging. Reaching your target weekly hire numbers is critical; however, many companies are experiencing an increased “no show” rate — hired drivers are simply not showing up for orientation. Where’s the disconnect? Here we outline a game plan to help bridge the gap between the job offer and the engaged new employee:

1. Connect with the driver as frequently and as close to orientation as possible. Even if the newly hired driver is confirmed for orientation a week or two beforehand, make sure recruiters are connecting with their class of drivers daily leading up to their arrival. Plans change and life can be hectic, so simple text reminders and/or phone call confirmations can go a long way. It not only shows the driver that you’re invested in their career and want them to succeed, but it will also give your company a better indication of who to expect for orientation and plan accordingly.

2. Consider moving as much of the orientation process online as possible. Utilizing tutorial videos and digital paperwork will afford your newly hired drivers flexibility to complete these tasks on their own time prior to orientation. It will also decrease the amount of administration time once drivers arrive on their first day. Since many transportation companies start driver orientation on Mondays, consider adding a second orientation day later in the week to reduce the amount of time between the accepted job offer and the start date. Food for thought — a shortened time frame also narrows the opportunity for other companies to poach your drivers before they’ve even started.

 Giving your newly hired drivers some responsibility and “homework” in advance of their start date will encourage an early sense of engagement and commitment to your company.

3. Understand why drivers are missing orientation in the first place. Three of the most common reasons why drivers miss orientation include issues getting to the orientation site, receiving a more attractive offer from another company, and concern that they will fail their drug test. Are there trends within your organization that may indicate the existence of any of these obstacles? If so, try to get in touch with a no-show hire after their scheduled orientation date to ask if there is anything your organization could have done differently to get them to orientation. Drivers tend to be open about their struggles; the insight may be helpful to recruiters and inform a different recruiting strategy and/or communication tactics moving forward.

4. Be transparent about expectations. Drivers are more likely to show up to orientation if they know exactly what the multi-day process will entail. Having a clear line of communication reduces the uncertainty that comes with switching carriers, especially for newer drivers who have never completed an orientation or drivers that haven’t done so in a while. During the onboarding process, transparency about weekly miles, average pay, and route designations will establish a sense of trust between your drivers and leadership early on, which will be helpful in retention.

5. Send drivers branded swag. Having branded “swag” or promotional items sent to your drivers before orientation is a fun, innovative way to encourage your new employees to feel a sense of community before they even start. Shirts, hats, keychains, and other small tokens of appreciation can make your drivers feel more connected to your company, thus increasing the likelihood that they show up for orientation (and the days beyond). Although it may come at a price, it’s a great way to move the needle and reduce your no-show rate.

At Bayard, we understand transportation recruitment challenges and continue to offer our trucking clients insights, data and innovative solutions. For more information on how we may be able to help your company, reach out to us.

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