Truck driver retention is constantly on the minds of many trucking carrier executives. Outside factors like the economy, the current COVID pandemic and driver availability will impact the truck driver turnover rate and a carrier’s ability to retain drivers. Still, there are a number of factors within your control as well. While driver pay is certainly critical, there are other ways to increase commitment from your fleet and reduce the turnover rate for truck drivers. All carriers are different in their approach to driver satisfaction, commitment, and retention. That said, here are some tips and resources that can help companies reduce turnover for truck drivers across the truck driving and transportation industry.
1: Get Driver Feedback!
Unless you have a small fleet with a robust open-door policy and engaged leaders at all levels regularly meeting with drivers, you need a process to formally get feedback on the driver experience. A robust and detailed surveying strategy that encompasses the entire driver lifecycle at your company can give you the information needed in a timely manner. Make sure drivers understand why you are asking for their input, where the surveys are coming from, and how they will be distributed, and commit to building their feedback into your planning and consideration process.
2: Openly Act on Driver Feedback!
Establish a process to receive, understand, and act on driver feedback in a way that improves the driver experience in a material way. Driver retention will not improve unless something changes, and most drivers, if they believe you are listening, will tell you what needs to change. Build a process for reviewing and considering driver feedback into your management, planning, metrics, and compensation systems. Ensure that ingesting the volume of feedback does not overrun your capacity to understand and act on the feedback in a timely manner. Make it crystal clear who has ownership of turning driver feedback into actionable strategy and policy changes. Communicate widely the changes and improvements that result. Showing drivers how their feedback has improved their experience and overall safety will build trust and credibility and keep the feedback coming.
3: Closely Monitor Driver Pay!
Driver pay can no longer be treated like just another variable expense that can flex widely depending on the work available. Drivers, like office employees, need a minimum amount of pay to survive, and their pay should consistently stay in an acceptable range for them to be satisfied and retained long term. Establish a process to monitor driver pay at the individual driver level and a strategy to recognize and address chronic shortfalls. Consistently monitor and evaluate your sales, marketing, pricing, dispatching, and driver management systems to ensure all drivers are receiving the support they need. This is often the toughest nut to crack but will pay huge dividends over time if managed with excellence.
4: Address Driver Amenities!
When discussing truck driver retention, don’t overlook amenities. Carriers that supply the power unit to OTR drivers either as company drivers or on a lease-purchase program should consider driver amenities as important as pay. The ability to use refrigeration and a microwave to eat healthier, room for storage, a comfortable mattress, temperature control, and the ability for a team driver to sleep without blaring crash avoidance systems going off while parking are examples of what should be evaluated in a mission to provide drivers with the highest standard of living possible while on the road. Used units should be carefully detailed and all systems working correctly before assignment, and there should be a process to identify and escalate exceptions to this critical process. A driver’s truck is not home, but it should be as close as possible.
5: Keep Your Promises!
Look holistically at your driver experience and ask if you are keeping promises to drivers. From the driver’s point of view, promises are made by advertising, recruiters, orientation leads, driver managers, and leadership throughout the entire organization. Next to not enough pay to survive, broken promises are the most toxic blow to retention. Recognizing the promises you make and how well you deliver on those promises flows through all these issues and is the bedrock of driver commitment. Study survey results, read text comments, look at online reviews of your company, and talk to as many drivers and their teammates as possible to assess this one variable. From the driver’s perspective, are we a trustworthy company to drive for?
What new strategies and solutions have worked for you for better truck driver retention? We’d love to hear!