It is no secret that the trucking sector is struggling. With driver shortages and rising cargo demand, things are tight. Add to that the skyrocketing driver turnover rates, and it’s easy to see why so many organizations are having trouble staffing – both hiring and retaining drivers. According to the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) annual poll, driver retention was the #2 problem for carriers. For the sixth year in a row, the driver shortage was the top issue.
What Does Driver Retention Mean?
First, let’s define driver retention.
Truck driver retention implies keeping employed drivers for a long time. Many trucking businesses have significant turnover, meaning drivers leave nearly as often as they arrive. Any organization should strive to enhance driver retention and decrease driver turnover.
The causes for high driver turnover vary in every firm; however, there are certain consistent ones. The pandemic is one factor for driver turnover. COVID-19 has certainly impacted the transportation sector as well.
The NIH believes that over half of all truck drivers are obese, putting them at risk for severe or even fatal symptoms if they get COVID. This implies many drivers have health issues that make them more inclined to remain home during a pandemic.
Of course, high turnover isn’t the sole issue. Other explanations include:
- Feeling like a machine, not a human
- No work-life balance culture at their organization
- Too much time away from home
- Scheduling blunders
- Stress (ironically, often due to the high turnover in the first place)
- Only criticism, no praise
- Unpaid or under-utilized
Statistics on Truck Driver Retention
The ATA reports that the turnover rate in the trucking sector has risen to 90% for companies making over $30 million (American Trucking Associations). Smaller carriers (under $30M in sales) have a reported 85% turnover rate.
Both statistics indicate that if you have 100 drivers now, just 10 will be the same next year. Considering that each new hire costs an average of $8,000, not counting wages or gasoline, losing and replacing all those drivers isn’t an option.
Hiring 90 additional drivers might cost you $720,000. You could spend a quarter of that much on driver retention efforts and still make money.
Another important statistic is driver shortages. But the ATA’s numbers are scary. The ATA predicts a 100,000 driver shortage in the next decade. It’s now more critical than ever to implement truck driver retention measures while fostering fresh talent.
Programs to Retain Truck Drivers
A driver retention program is designed to keep drivers loyal to a firm. We’ll talk about driver retention techniques soon, but first, keep in mind that any program must be founded on trust and strive to develop as a team.
With a positive mindset about working for you, new drivers will go nearly as fast as they arrive. You must prevent a “honeymoon” moment and always maintain a good work atmosphere.
Life isn’t all sunshine and smiles, but the teams supporting and supervising your drivers need to be organized and understand their drivers’ priorities. Your drivers are part of the team, not just someone who shows there, checks in, and checks out. They must share the company’s values and comprehend its ambitions.
Recognize Value Exchange
Money seldom solves problems. Everyone wants greater compensation, but we all know that money isn’t always the greatest motivation. Nothing can keep someone in a poor position if expenses are still paid.
Nonetheless, value exchange is vital. Your drivers must feel appropriately paid for their time and competence. This should include more than simply the money paid into their accounts after each pay period.
Keep in mind that drivers have other possibilities, so full-time employment should be the simpler decision. That implies you should consider giving a nurturing employment package to your drivers. Among them:
- Options for pension
- Medico (most people will switch jobs for this, especially if it covers their family)
- Dental and ophthalmological
- Hours better or more flex
- Enough time off
- Gyms for free (or similar)
- Added benefits
Ask your drivers whether a raise or a new perk will make them happy. Also, make sure your remuneration is competitive, if not better. They’ll stay longer if they know they’re getting rewarded adequately.
Solicit feedback from your drivers so they can tell you what you’re doing correctly (and wrong) and complain when required. Give them an anonymous HR channel. There are advanced options, but a Google Form will suffice.
Once you’ve opened up avenues for input, act on it. Your opinion might help you retain truck drivers and save money. Replacing a driver might cost up to $25,000, so take it seriously.
It’s vital not to disregard drivers’ complaints; keep an ear out for possible issues. Take note of patterns and act accordingly.
Making improvements may help you retain drivers. Everyone cannot be kept. Some individuals leave to pursue other interests or relocate to be closer to family, but others recognize they aren’t a good match for your organization.
No one loves losing staff, but you must understand why drivers leave. Don’t be scared to ask for feedback – but avoid asking for it directly from management. Ask them questions on their final day.
Prioritize Health & Safety
Trucking is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. To keep them secure, you should do all you can to highlight this. Plan regular maintenance, listen to their concerns and invest in superior safety measures.
Remember that mental health is as important as physical health. For many, talking about mental health is taboo, so promote healthy practices that keep drivers physically and psychologically well. Encourage drivers to take frequent breaks, get exercise and fresh air (lifting weights or hunting counts), and employ stress-relieving strategies.
If they don’t want to meditate, give them the skills to manage their mental health in whichever manner they like. Sometimes, just having decent Wi-Fi on the road (for long-haul) is enough to keep them connected. Others will benefit immensely from the option of bringing a pet along, both in terms of mental health and work fulfillment.
Recognize Superb Work
Feeling underpaid or in a thankless position ruins work happiness and may rapidly become a key incentive for looking for a new career.
Thanking them every time they get out of the vehicle isn’t enough. Instead, provide your drivers with milestones and rewards. Give little presents for longevity and thank drivers that go above and beyond. A simple thank you text from a boss can go a long way in keeping your drivers happy.
Find Your Family & Team
Using the term “family” to define organizational culture has its drawbacks. The term “family” may appropriately describe how you treat one another, but it can also imply a hostile work atmosphere. Many companies use the phrase “family” to indicate everyone must do as everyone else does (no individuality) or remain quiet if they are dissatisfied.
Events like an Easter egg hunt for your employees’ kids (or grandchildren) in the spring, a BBQ in the summer, a Halloween costume contest (for adults or kids) in the fall, and an end of the year party in December will help your team bond and initiate a tradition that will promote resilience and enthuse new employees.
Like consumers, retaining drivers is far simpler and less expensive than continuously recruiting new employees. Driver retention must become a concern as some organizations struggle to keep drivers for more than a few months or even weeks. The good news is that boosting truck driver retention will enhance your capacity to recruit and acquire new drivers. As you can see, driver retention is important! We have walked you through the greatest truck driver retention ideas, programs, and techniques in this post.
Sasha is a freelance writer, with expertise in writing topics in the transportation and farming industry, She is a wife, a mother, and co-owner of DreCampbell.com.
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