For years, the American Transportation Research Institute has reported that driver shortage and driver retention are two of the largest issues for motor carriers. In 2020, turnover rates averaged 90% for most large carriers. Armed with that knowledge, it makes sense for companies to not only prioritize driver recruitment but also, maybe even more importantly, manage driver retention by engaging quality drivers already employed by your organization. After all, the supply and demand of truck drivers affect every other part of the business.
Below, we outline five strategies to help keep your drivers working for you:
1. Build and Foster Positive Relationships with Your Drivers.
Fostering a sense of community and a unique family atmosphere makes working for your company more than a job. If drivers feel they are just a cog in the wheel, they will be more likely to start searching for opportunities elsewhere. Drivers, like any laborers, want to feel fulfilled with a chance for growth, acknowledgment, and an opportunity to make an impact.
One way to build a better community is by developing a mentorship program. Assign a tenured driver mentor to each new driver within his/her first six months of employment — a person who can act as a resource for questions and career advice, or to simply act as a friendly face each day on the job. In most industries, people often feel more comfortable conversing with their peers as opposed to a boss figure. This mentorship program will not only improve employee satisfaction but will assist in the acclimation process for new hires. It also gives your company’s more experienced drivers a chance to share their learnings and develop more pride as a subject matter expert and valued member of the company.
Creating an environment with open and transparent lines of communication is another strategy in building positive relationships with your drivers. Encourage drivers to voice concerns and ideas to the leadership team through town halls and regular check-ins. Other ways to foster relationships include training sessions with managers, employee newsletters, and an employment recognition program. Sometimes, simply a few positive words of affirmation after a driver completes a difficult load delivery during bad weather can go a long way in building employee confidence and helping him/her feel appreciated.
2. Provide High-Quality Equipment.
Drivers are only as good as the equipment they use, and one of the biggest frustrations for a driver is not having the proper equipment — or, worse, having faulty equipment — to complete their job. It’s important for your company to invest in vehicles that lessen drivers’ downtime, create efficiency and keep drivers on track and feeling productive. By investing in high-quality equipment, you’re also illustrating the importance of their work, and in turn, reducing the unnecessary friction between drivers and management.
While the safety and reliability of your equipment is the utmost priority, vehicles with extra perks like comfortable seats and advanced technology with dashboard cameras and e-logs can impact a driver’s attitude about his/her job.
3. Invest in the Well-Being of Your Drivers.
Showing your drivers that you recognize that they have a life beyond truck driving is important. Drivers have family, friends and other outside interests and priorities, so encouraging and creating schedules that allow for a work-life balance is critical for their overall health and happiness. There is no doubt that this line of work comes with its share of long hours, time away from home, and mental stress, so offering benefits like gym memberships, nutrition programs, and mental health support can be not only beneficial but make the difference in keeping employees on board for the long haul — literally!
4. Pay Attention to Driver Satisfaction.
Happy employees are more likely to do well at their jobs, and the best way to understand your drivers’ satisfaction is through feedback — both formal and informal. Having drivers fill out feedback surveys 90 days after starting in their new positions and then again on a biannual basis will provide data that will inform company decisions. Utilizing this feedback toward the betterment of the company’s policies and procedures will show your drivers that their voices are indeed heard and that your company cares about them as employees.
Keep your drivers content and ‘driven’ to do their best work by instituting offerings like incentive programs for great performance, pay programs with a $.01 – $.02 CPM increase, and benefit packages. These can make or break an employee’s decision to stay with their carrier — and because of the high cost to recruit a new driver, it makes fiscal sense to invest in these types of initiatives.
5. Maintain Good Relationships with Drivers who Depart.
It can be easy to feel frustration, sadness, or remorse at a driver who is leaving your company to take a different opportunity elsewhere, especially if the resignation doesn’t go smoothly. If you still have the opportunity to sway the driver to stay loyal to your company, have a conversation about what it would take to keep them on board and happy. However, if they still choose to leave and you’d consider rehiring them in the future, make sure to not burn any bridges in their final days with the company. A driver may realize that the grass really isn’t greener on the other side, and choose to come back!
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