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Slowing Down the Driver Shortage



Slowing Down the Driver Shortage

Drivers are more than just a body behind a steering wheel. Our drivers are our interaction with our customers; they are our frontline sales people; and they are the strength of our company. A well-trained and educated corps of drivers is critical to a company as well as the industry. In short, the success of Saia’s relationships with its shippers relies upon its drivers.

Where have all the drivers gone?

In order to bring back drivers and retain them, it’s important to understand why their numbers are dropping in the first place. For starters, there are major perception issues that surround driving jobs, particularly with people new to the profession. The idea that drivers lack time at home is certainly a factor, but in reality our line drivers typically have two days a week off and our city drivers are home every day or night. The perception of salary is skewed as well. Most do not expect to hear that these positions can pay in the area of $70-$85,000 a year. On top of that, the benefits offered by a company such as Saia can be generous.

While the industry can present excellent wages, there is no one-size-fits-all rate for national markets. Saia is proud to offer a comprehensive benefits package, which provides employees with compensation that is calculated by benchmarking our pay and more against other transportation companies as well as the area in which employees work. Larger metropolitan areas present a plethora of job opportunities within close proximity to potential drivers so it’s important to offer competitive wages and benefits. Ignoring the need for a market-based pay scale only leads to an increasingly smaller candidate pool.

So while the difficulties of filling these driver positions is numerous and exacerbated by the many industry misperceptions, Saia is then faced with the additional challenge of reaching candidates and keeping them onboard as drivers.

Building the Saia Workforce

Saia has made great efforts to recruit drivers across several diverse groups such as women, military veterans, and those new to the workforce in order to grow the potential driver set. Saia’s efforts are marked by its participation at numerous career fairs and trucking conferences, its strong social media presence as well as its strategy across major job boards.

Once a relationship with a new Saia employee has begun, great lengths are gone to, to make our drivers feel valued. Our commitment to the community, our employees’ personal growth and their well-being is proven by just an 11% turnover margin amongst Saia employees.

While Saia offers strong sign-on bonuses and competitive wages and benefits, it is initiatives like our Dock-to-Driver Program where new hires without industry experience are mentored, that helps set Saia apart. Through these programs Saia can educate, grow and more easily retain its own workforce.  New hires with minimal or no driving experience can begin in our terminals before moving through the ranks of commercial driver, pickup and delivery driver, and linehaul driver. This offers our shippers the added benefit of well-trained, knowledgeable and experienced drivers.

If Saia, as well as other companies throughout the industry, can find ways to retain their new drivers for one or two years,  there’s a better chance of that employee turning their truck driving job into a career. However, the challenge of supporting these careers then falls to the companies themselves. Supporting areas such as innovation and safety become essential to shaping the views that both employees and customers have of a company.

Upgrading safety features such as lane deviation alerts, enhancing driver comfort through better cruise control technology, or the inclusion of Bose Easy Ride vibration cancelling seats are the type of improvements drivers want to see. Staying ahead in areas of innovation and providing favorable conditions for drivers is also necessary to retaining seasoned drivers.

The current driver shortage the industry faces is certainly a challenge, but it’s one that Saia has met head-on and will continue to tackle. Through stronger recruiting practices and exceptional training programs, Saia will continue to deliver quality service from our professional drivers.

To learn more about Saia’s Dock-to-Driver Program, be sure to read our previous blog, An Inside Look at New Driver Training, on Saia’s InfoIntersection. Driver position openings, as well as all other current job openings at Saia, can be found at https://www.saiasecure.com/employment/default.aspx.

17 responses to “Slowing Down the Driver Shortage”

  1. Michael Jaed says:

    Great read!

    What technology or brands do you use for safety features such as lane deviation alerts?

    Thank you,
    MJ

  2. David PArker says:

    Great read and the driver’s you send to my dock every week are very professional. By the way I stole the first paragraph, posting it in my driver area.

    Thank You, David

    • Saia LTL Freight says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words Mr. Parker! Our company was founded over 92 years ago on the principles of unsurpassed customer service so we’re glad to hear our drivers living up to those standards. Please feel free to share this blog piece with your coworkers and colleagues.

  3. Bob says:

    If drivers are important why treat them so poorly?

  4. Bob says:

    Why does SAIA treat drivers poorly? Do you have a camera watching you constantly?

    • Saia LTL Freight says:

      Good Morning Bob, We are sorry you feel that way but we value every single one of our drivers as they are the face of our company. As our roads become busier and more dangerous, it is paramount that carriers and professional drivers are doing their part to improve safety. That’s why we are installing the Lytx camera system. We strongly believe Saia drivers will be safer doing their jobs every day because of this technology. When triggered by an unusual driving event, the Lytx recorder captures video and data that can help inform coaching sessions, reward good driving, and exonerate drivers from false claims. It does not, nor cannot, continuously record. The system has proven to enhance safety at the companies where it is utilized.

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks bob, let see a camera in the dispatchers office or cubical. Let’s put a camera in the supervisors office all over the region, and have the top mangers from the head office watch them constantly. As they tell the drivers we only watch you when something happens, then tell them we only watch you when you raise your voice.

      The drivers should grow a pair and quit driving for any trucking company that install any type of camera. Weather it is facing the driver or the road.
      Drivers need to stick together. If this companies keep loosing drivers, then they will take this camera out of all the trucks. Otherwise this will continue and next thing you know it will be body camera. Enough is enough drivers. Don’t listen to this so called safety mangers. Let see him put camera in his office first. They all will resign the the same day. Only truck drivers are expandable. It’s the most risky and dangerous job. Now I have to deal with someone watching me 10 hours a day. I am not in jail. I rather quit a day change company that be treated,like a federal presioner.

  5. Bob says:

    Why does SAIA treat drivers poorly? Do you have a camera looking at you constantly?

    • Karl says:

      I can not answer for other drivers I can only offer my experience. I have been a city driver for Saia for 2 years I have been a driver in the Ltl Business for about 20 years of the 25 years as a driver. I have never been treated poorly or disrespected in any way at Saia. I have been worked hard, harder than I wanted at times, but you will have that anywhere you work it’s the nature of the Ltl Business. The pay and benefits is competitive I believe it is among the best for the area that I live. The camera is operational consistently but does not record constantly. Yes bumps and lane lines will set off the camera they are sensitive if that’s all it was the videos are deleted. Here’s the thing if you have good driving habits chances generate a video is slim. I want to assure you that you are not being watched on a monitor I trust this to be true. I ignore the camera, I drive as safe as I can and get the job done. Sorry l was long winded I hope this helps change your mind about Saia.

  6. katherine kimmons says:

    When saia let go of 500 employees 2 years ago why won’t they rehire them if there is a shortage? And there is an opening for that same position? We would love to come back to Saia….

    • Saia LTL Freight says:

      Please feel free to re-apply. Our Human Resources team will review your application and contact you should you be chosen for an interview.

  7. Jeffrey Muller says:

    I have been trying to rehire with Saia for the TWF run that has opened up. I have been told by HR that I was eligible for rehire but so far I have not been contacted. I realize that means the company is not interested in rehiring me. I wished Saia would reconsider. I left Saia to go back to oilfield and that was a huge mistake. I hope to have that chance of coming back to Saia as a permanent driver.

    • Saia LTL Freight says:

      Hi Jeffrey- Thank you for contacting us. We are glad to hear you are interested in continuing your career at Saia again. We have passed your information to a Recruiter. They will review your application and contact you should you be chosen for an interview. Have a great weekend!

  8. Nathan says:

    Saia could cut there turnover in half if they simply treat professional drivers just as that.Saia wants to hire and retain the best as they say but asking a driver to run 500 to 600 miles a night without picking up his phone is very unreasonable the camera is there so if there is a incident you can watch the tape and discipline the driver if he or she is in the wrog. Evey Saia terminal I pass has now hiring signs out front and the word is spreading like wildfire in the LTL industry that this is not a company to come to work for just for that simple reason. Texting and driving is dangerous and I could see them saying that but the DOT says it’s ok to talk if you have a Bluetooth device. Great pay Great company culture I hear but micro managing some of the best drivers the industry has to offer is a deal breaker. No way a company that’s starts drivers at 55cpm door to door miles shold have a problem hiring and retaining the industry’s best. Saia you might want to reconsider the simple phone policy or the freight might pile up on the dock because there will be no drivers to move it.

  9. Scott says:

    I would be happy to come work for SAIA, but this type of cell phone policy is completely rediculous.

    To tell a driver who is stuck behind a wheel for 9 to 11 hours a day that they cannot even use a handsfree Bluetooth is insane.

    We’re already bored off our gourds (<- insert swear word here) and talking helps keep us awake AND alert.

    So while your starting pay is more than my company's maximum pay, should I decide to leave my present company, SAIA will NOT be one of my choices.

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