As part of our ongoing interview series, we had the pleasure of speaking with one of our longest-serving members of staff, Donna Scanlan, who shares the reasons why she’s stayed with the business for so long.


Q: Hi Donna! We’ve heard great things about you from the HGV Drivers we’ve been interviewing for the Backline Heroes series so it seemed fitting to dedicate this month’s interview to you. How long have you been working at Backline?


A: Thank you! I’ve been at Backline for about 18 years now. I’m currently working as part of the recruitment team, but I’ve pretty much done everything apart from driving an HGV!


Q: Have you ever been tempted to drive an HGV lorry?


A: No! If I was to get my licence I’d get lumbered out on the road and would get bored talking to myself all day, I need people to talk to. Human connection and conversations are what I love about the office environment. I’d go doolally on my own!


Q: Tell us about your role within Backline, what is it that you do?


A: There are three of us based in the office and we all share the workload in a way that plays to each of our strengths, so our roles aren’t strictly defined in a traditional sense. We’re all dynamic and work well together as a team. I particularly love doing the payroll, which most people hate doing! A massive part of our role is speaking with the drivers, checking in with them and making sure that they’re happy. It’s what sets our company culture apart from other driving agencies.


Q: It sounds as if you have a lot of time for your drivers and really care about their health and happiness, is that usual for the haulage industry?


A: HGV driving is really hard work, so you want to make the job as fun as possible. If it wasn’t for the drivers then we wouldn’t be in business, but we want to make time for them. We want them to come into the office, grab a cuppa and sit down for a chat. The hardest part about working through the pandemic was having our office door closed. One of the other ladies in the office is vulnerable so we had to stick to protocol to keep her protected, but we all missed the hustle and bustle and camaraderie that we have with the drivers.


Q: Speaking of the pandemic, how has it affected business?


A: At the start of the pandemic and we were on furlough it felt really lonely, but we had access to Microsoft Teams which helped us feel connected and like we were still part of a team. Once drivers were allowed back on the road we were faced with a different challenge because a lot of our drivers have children who needed to be home-schooled, so they couldn’t physically come to work.


In hindsight, the Government should have classed HGV drivers as frontline workers so that their children could go back into school, but we worked with what we had and pulled through.


Q: What are the biggest challenges you’re currently facing?


A: The driver shortage. We’re lucky that we have work coming out of our ears, but there’s been such a holdup with new drivers taking their tests and obtaining their licence because everything stopped during the pandemic and now there’s a massive backlog. The driver shortage isn’t anything new, there’s been a shortage for years, but the pandemic and Brexit have created additional challenges that we didn’t really need!


Q: What changes do you think need to be made to attract more drivers into the industry?


A: Being a driver comes with an outdated stigma and stereotype, sadly. Years and years ago you only became a lorry driver if you didn’t pass your exams at school or didn’t know what career path to follow. Plus the rates of pay back then were terrible and the driving experience wasn’t the best. You can be on the road for a very long time so it can be relentless.


Thankfully a lot has changed over the years. Lorries are now a lot nicer and more modern, pay scales have increased and drivers have more choice when it comes to the jobs they’re willing to take on.


Q: If there was one piece of advice that you’d give to anyone looking to get into the recruitment side of things, what would that be?


A: Expect the unexpected! No two days are ever the same, but that’s what I love most about it. It’s a fast-paced industry and things can change really quickly, so if you’re a problem solver like me then you’ll enjoy rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in.


My role is relationship based, not just with everyone in the office but with the drivers too. At Backline it really does feel as though we’ve created an extended family, which is very rare for driver agencies as many of them see their drivers as a statistic rather than a human being.