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Finding the Best Route: A Long-Term Strategy for Top Transportation Talent


The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged supply chain and logistics in ways we have never seen before. Unprecedented disruptions, shortages and changing consumer demands have exposed or created new supply chain issues, exacerbated existing ones and, in certain cases, alleviated other problems. 

Take the talent gap in logistics. Before COVID-19, demand for supply chain talent, especially truck drivers, was at an all-time high, outstripping supply and creating major worries for companies across all industries. 

While the pandemic has created demand in certain areas for more warehouse workers, it initially reduced the labor shortage problem in trucking. This is primarily the result of reduction in capacity being far exceeded by the overall drop in demand.

However, you don’t need a crystal ball to know that the labor shortage will return. In fact, we are already beginning to see a dramatic increase in demand, with the talent gap returning as the economy begins to recover and businesses continue to reopen. 

The fundamentals of the shortage are still there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average age of drivers in the U.S. to be around 55 years old and there still doesn’t seem to be sufficient numbers of new recruits entering the workforce. And many of these drivers are now choosing to retire or limit their geography due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

At DHL Supply Chain, we know the skilled labor and driver shortage is a long-term challenge facing the entire logistics industry. That’s why we developed a long-term strategy to ensure we remain the employer of choice for supply chain and logistics talent. 

A Proven Long-Term Strategy

The ongoing success of this strategy is based on our multi-faceted approach that goes beyond simply offering higher wages and signing bonuses. Following are four key components of our approach that have enabled us to successfully attract, retain and advance top talent. 

  1. We offer a career, not a job. If there has been one benefit of the driver shortage, it is that it is creating a showing of greater respect and appreciation for drivers, beyond financial compensation. For many, it is a career, not a job. That’s why it’s important that skilled prospects see a clear path for advancement. Initiatives such as DHL Supply Chain’s Dock-to-Driver program have shown promise in accomplishing this objective. Through the program, we identify warehouse forklift drivers who have shown the ability and commitment to advance in their careers and invest in them to allow them to transition from the warehouse to the truck. We pay for their school and provide a four-week finishing program to prepare them for the road.               
  2. We embrace innovation. Being innovative helps break down barriers that limit growth while strengthening the ability to capitalize on new opportunities. It also helps attract skilled talent who want to work at a company where exciting advances are being made to create the global supply chain of the future. DHL Supply Chain has built a culture of continuous innovation that allows us to think like a startup while honoring and utilizing our industry leading scale. A centerpiece of this effort is our commitment to deploy technology and equipment that enhances driver experience and productivity, including in-cab telematics, digital routing and vehicle monitoring, driver assisted cruise control, and SpeedGauge technology to monitor drivers’ adherence to posted speed limits and to enable managers to coach drivers on their speed limit compliance.                                                                                                                                     
  3. We match the right talent to the right need. Aligned with our company-wide digitalization strategy, we have transformed our recruiting efforts to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the process – from online applications to pre-hire testing to onboarding. This has allowed us to increase the quantity and quality of applicants, simplify the application process and offer a consistent and world-class hiring experience. And because we have multiple types of driver roles, we are also able to more succinctly identify qualified candidates and match their interests with our needs. This is supported by an extensive internship program that connects us to top new supply chain talent as early and quickly as possible.                                                               
  4. We focus on the driver. Finally, and most importantly, we are committed to continually improving driver quality of life. We make a concerted effort to keep driver experience top of mind. For instance, one factor that has discouraged young people from entering the industry, and contributes to excessive turnover, is the need for drivers to be away from home and families for extended periods. We’ve minimized this by adopting a relay approach to long routes in which multiple drivers transport the freight for one leg before returning home each night. We’ve also designed a transportation network that eliminates the need for drivers to wait at docks for hours prior to unloading, often with minimal accommodations for their comfort. All decisions are made with drivers in mind. This commitment is highlighted every year in our celebration of our drivers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. 

As the country recovers and stability and growth return, the labor shortages are also returning. DHL Supply Chain will be well-positioned to compete in the tight market because of our active and ongoing commitment to explore and implement new approaches to attract and retain qualified talent. These efforts ensure we can place more drivers behind the wheel and keep supply chains running smoothly. 

For more information on DHL Transport Solutions and how we think beyond today’s shipment for our customers, visit: