Business & Investment

Perspective: How to Fight the Talent War in Freight Transport

This commentary was written by Peter Rentschler, CEO of Carrier Direct. The views expressed here are the views of the author only and do not necessarily represent the views of Freight Waves or its affiliates.

By Peter Rentschler

Someone may be looking for your employee and your employee may be looking for a new job. What are you doing to keep them up?

according to Prudential’s American Workers Survey PulsationAn estimated 25% of workers plan to look for new jobs “after the pandemic threat has subsided.” This data was collected in March 2021 and the labor market has continued to accelerate since then.

Many truck companies are increasing their salaries and bonuses as the need for drivers continues to grow. Wages have reached “historical” proportions, and in some cases wage increases have skyrocketed by more than 40%.

All this data supports the notion that employees are ready to look for new jobs or move to a new company, as well as other companies are ready to pull them away from you.

Retaining and hiring the right people across the industry, including freight brokers, carriers and freight technology providers, has already created significant churn and challenges.

Welcome to the 2021 Talent War: It will be a bumpy vehicle.

We talked to a network of industry leaders to understand why so many employees are opening their doors to new employers and what is the real impetus for retention. We have identified five important factors.

1. Career growth

The majority (80%) of the Prudential Survey group cited concerns about career growth as an influential factor in accepting new jobs. Does your business offer development trucks? Ability development training?? Coaching? Mentorship?

If so, that’s great. Take the time to review and revive these programs to understand how employees are involved and get the most out of them.

If not, yesterday we need to organize a clear career growth message and programming for our employees. In a fast-growing start-up world, employees can quickly move up the ranks as their business grows.

Charlie Saffro, President and Founder of CSRecruiting, explains that career growth has always been the number one reason people change jobs in our industry. What’s interesting about what’s happening, especially after all of us in 2020, is that we’re willing to move sideways in a company where people really appreciate it. Sharing gratitude for employees is an important part of a strong corporate culture.

2. Flexibility and PTO

Are there any benefits such as working from home or flexible working hours? Unlimited PTO? Benefits such as remote work are more realistic than flexible time in transportation and logistics spaces, but it’s up to you and your team to honestly evaluate what might be useful to your business. Throughout the cargo industry, it is becoming possible to remotely control almost any role that does not require truck hands-on or cargo hands-on.

If technology is the reason why many employees cannot be allowed to work remotely or on a more flexible schedule, it is important to evaluate it now. We have seen first-hand that companies with strict internal requirements for roles that can be performed remotely have higher turnover rates. Employees feel that management is not trusting them and that they are losing power.

KJ McMasters, President of Talent Solvers, agrees that flexibility is important to employees and an integral part of the corporate culture and therefore needs to contribute to retention strategies. He adds that more important than providing flexibility and unlimited PTOs is to really encourage employees to use them and accept them when they use them.

McMasters also shared that the impact of your company and team on a larger community is increasing the priority of employee well-being and retention. It’s great to know that employees want to contribute and give back to their communities. Providing the opportunity to do this with your peers as part of your company will further strengthen your corporate culture and contribute to a happy and healthy workplace.

Still the best: McMasters cites companies participating in team-wide or company-wide Volunteer Day. Alternatively, he says, some companies offer volunteer days as well as PTO days. This is a very meaningful benefit to many and shows that you are interested not only in them but also in the greater benefits.

4. Bonus / incentive

Now let’s talk about compensation. TransportDive states that payment and work-life balance are among the biggest holding factors for truck drivers.. It’s no secret that compensation is an important part of the employee retention process.

Huge bonuses are occurring throughout the banking and insurance industries. This is seen in freight transport through a more lucrative, unlimited commission program. There was unprecedented work growth. As all new venture and private equity money came into our space, freight companies became more interested in the results. Therefore, they are financially motivated to offer highly competitive reward packages to high performers in the industry.

Creating the right incentive structure to work for you and your people requires some consideration, but you need to do something. Incentives can be provided with short-term, medium-term, and long-term retention bonuses, base salary increases, profit sharing, and stock options.

Whether you need to tweak an existing program or perform a full compensation overhaul, you need to make intentional changes to your changes. Otherwise, you run the risk of causing incorrect behavior. The number of paid consulting contracts increased by 125% year-on-year.

5. Basic salary

New employees who are more interested in getting higher base compensation are standard, even if that means lower total compensation. This is because you need to prove your base salary to get approval for car loans, credit cards, apartment rentals, mortgages, etc.

Saffro also points out that the higher the base salary, the more attractive levels of stability these days for many workers. The industry’s historically low salaries for roles such as customer and career salespeople are a barrier to attracting new talent. The good news is that this is something you can fix.


Your competition has the same growth goals as you. You are not just competing for your customers and your business. You are fighting in a talent war. Your retention strategy should be as focused as your recruitment strategy.

Safro clearly states, “If you can’t hold it, you can’t hire it.”

“This is the most candidate-centric market I’ve seen in over 15 years of talent acquisition,” McMasters adds.

Employee satisfaction, and thus employee retention, should be a top priority for businesses like you who want to successfully retain their talents and continue their business growth journey.

One of the important points: Not all result in compensation. Yes, paying more makes it easier to pull people into the door, but keeping them depends on how you treat them as members of your team. This is what determines the winners and losers of Talent War.

No matter how you look at the data, that feeling cannot be denied. People are open and often want to find a new job when the pandemic settles down.

Are you sure you can maintain your talent?

About the author

Peter Rentschler is the CEO of Carrier Direct, an industry-leading management consulting and software development company. He led the delivery of client services and engagement and advised carriers and 3PLs to create and implement long-term strategies enabled by organizational change and operational efficiency. Rentschler has worked for corporate and boutique consulting firms and has worked with clients in a variety of industries including transportation, retail, technology, insurance and finance.

Perspective: How to Fight the Talent War in Freight Transport Perspective: How to Fight the Talent War in Freight Transport

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