Though much of 2018 was punctuated by driver shortages across the United States, that hasn’t stopped Walmart from hiring more drivers than ever before. The retail giant hired around 1,400 new drivers this year, up from just 922 in 2017. But according to a report from Yahoo News, Walmart is still on the hunt for hundreds more.
"We have a commensurate amount of demand and freight to move. And so, we've seen a need to grow our private fleet—that, we view as a competitive advantage, from a value perspective. We've been hiring a lot of drivers," said Tracy Rosser, a Senior Vice President of Transportation and Supply Chain at Walmart.
As of mid-December, nearly 1,000 new drivers are in Walmart’s hiring pipeline. 200 of those drivers will be attending hiring events in January and 400 are referrals the company is already evaluating.
Walmart, of course, is no fool when it comes to supply and demand. When the retailer caught wind of an impending driver shortage this fall, it began aggressively going after new driver hires, offering $1,500 referral bonuses, using social media to reach younger drivers, shortening the application time from 73 days to 31 days, and reformatting its hiring events for higher pass rates, Yahoo said. A first-year driver for Walmart can make $86,000, gain quarterly safe driving bonuses, and receive benefits, including up to 21 paid days of vacation.
"You've had more demand that's been placed into an economy that's got super low unemployment levels pulling drivers out of the driving industry, because the driving industry is not the most favorable job in terms of quality of life, time away from home, unpredictable schedules, sleeping in your truck, those types of things, and pay. It's really created a shortage within the driving industry," Rosser added.
According to the American Trucking Association, large truckload carriers experience an average turnover rate of 96% year, the highest levels since 2013. Rosser said Walmart has an industry low turnover average—typically in the upper single digits or low double-digits, ranging from 7% to 12%.
Will 2019 see more innovative ways to decrease turnover in the retail trucking business? Deli Market News will continue to report.