Financial worry: A possible recruiting tactic for trucking?

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I’ve noted in this space before that growing concerns over finances within the U.S. workforce could be a key recruiting tactic for trucking, especially where the industry’s shortage of key personnel is concerned.

One avenue involves balancing the skyrocketing cost of a college education against the immediate earning potential truck drivers and truck technicians.

Another revolves around addressing “softer needs” such as happiness on the job and better work-life balance.  

And though more than a few believe higher pay alone won’t solve the current and growing shortage of truck drivers, the need to bring home a sufficient paycheck is still an overriding issue. Thus if trucking can address rising concerns regarding “financial stress” among workers with steadier and higher-paying work, with consistent home time, the industry may be able to better position itself to recruit and retain more workers.

A recent survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) noted that “financial stress rates” in the U.S. are among the highest they have been over the last five years, with workers facing more financial burdens and increased debt.

The firm said more than half (52%) of 1,600 respondents to its 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey said they are “stressed about finances,” with 45% reporting that their stress has increased over the last 12 months.

Increased financial stress levels are being felt more by Millennials (64%) than any other generation surveyed, noted Kent Allison, one of the leaders of PwC's employee financial education and wellness practice.

"Many employees aren't feeling confident about their finances," Allison (at right) explained.

"A combination of factors is adding to stress levels. Despite lower energy costs, salaries are barely keeping pace with the rise in cost of living, causing an additional strain on employee budgets that were already stretched thin,” he pointed out.

“The housing market has only moderately improved and in many places home values still remain far below pre-recession prices despite  interest rates being at historic lows,” Allison added. “Couple that with the recent volatility in the stock market and it is no wonder employee confidence is waning."

Could this create an opportunity for trucking? Especially where younger Millennial workers are concerned?

For example, PwC’s survey found that employees with student loans are in worse financial shape than other employees; a stress perhaps felt most acutely felt by Millennials since 42% of Millennial survey respondents indicated that they have a student loan, with 79% noting that their student loans are having a moderate or significant impact on their ability to meet their other financial goals.

“Workers whose finances are impacted by student loan debt are less productive, have more financial stress, are more likely to find it difficult to meet household expenses and are less confident in their retirement preparedness,” Allison said.

Employee retirement savings are also an area of concern as PwC’s data shows that nearly half of all workers (47%) have saved less than $50,000 for retirement, with 28% percent of workers are saving less for retirement than last year.

This could be a bigger deal than many think because PwC discerned in its poll more than half of Millennials (54%) said that their loyalty to their employer is influenced by how much their employer cares about their financial well-being.

"With retirement savings worryingly low, now is the time for employers to put effective financial wellness programs into place that focus holistically on the financial well-being of employees and drive behavioral change," Allison stressed.

Something to consider as the pressures trucking faces to find, hire and retain the personnel necessary to keep the wheels turning won’t slacken anytime soon.

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