The natural shortage of truck drivers in the American trucking industry has become a noticeable issue, and it isn’t likely to be resolved anytime soon.
The FMCSA has also started taking steps to overcome the shortage of commercial drivers, but it will take some time for fleets to finally overcome the problem. In the meanwhile, fleet managers and trucking company owners must identify the reasons for a high driver turnover rate and find solutions to mitigate the problem as much as possible.
According to a recent survey of 24,000 drivers, more than 30% of drivers quit within the first 3 months. Additionally, approximately 50% leave within the first 6 months.
Those are alarming numbers, which only highlight the importance of driver retention and driver satisfaction.
We highlight the two biggest reasons for a high driver turnover rate and list some proven ideas and strategies that you can use to improve the driver retention rate in your company.
Why do drivers leave?
Different fleets may experience different specific problems that could lead to a high driver turnover rate. However, despite the specific issues, there are two common reasons why drivers leave so quickly after joining a company:
Reason #1: The first reason is that new recruits often get disappointed once they start a job. Most of them realize that the job — or the company’s environment — is significantly different than what they expected.
In other words, a difference in expectations causes most drivers to leave in the first three to six months of starting a new job.
Reason #2: The second biggest reason why so many new drivers leave in the first three to six months of starting their jobs is the differences between fleet managers and dispatchers. These differences are significantly accentuated early in their driving careers.
6 Moves to improve driver retention
Now that we have identified the biggest reasons why so many drivers leave in the first 90-180 days of starting a new job let’s discuss the things you can do to improve the driver retention rate in your company.
1. Differences in driver vs fleet manager expectations are the biggest reasons new drivers leave. Always clearly convey what the job and lifestyle would be like in your company. If you do not make it clear in your job description or the interview process, the new drivers that you hire will get disappointed eventually because of different expectations.
2. Raise your hiring standards and the selection processes to filter out highly motivated employees and industry professionals. If you hire lots of applicants who see the job as just a last resort to earn some money, you are more likely to experience a high driver turnover rate.
3. Maintain good working relationships with drivers — especially with new recruits. Problems with fleet managers and dispatchers are the second biggest reason why so many new drivers leave. By making them feel more welcome, you can improve the driver retention rate in your company.
4. Seek feedback from drivers on what you can do to improve their working environment and lifestyle. Run surveys, talk to your drivers, and seek suggestions. It is also recommended to set up an anonymous feedback system to learn more about your fleet and the hidden problems in your company that most drivers don’t feel comfortable talking about openly.
5. Raise driver pay and attract industry professionals who are looking more and more into other blue-collar jobs that provide a better lifestyle to them and to their families.
6. Incentivize good performance. Initiate programs such as ‘driver of the month’ that reward drivers for increased efficiency, productivity, and maintaining good working relationships with their co-workers and fleet managers. Apart from the monetary rewards and bonuses, recognition within the organization is also a great motivator for commercial drivers.
Communicate the benefits of electronic logging devices
Apart from the above-mentioned 6 ways to improve driver retention, fleet managers also need to sit with their drivers and educate them about the upcoming ELD mandate.
Many drivers see electronic logging devices as a way to compromise their privacy and freedom, but that’s not true. There are significant advantages of using technology in the trucking industry, and that’s why advancements like electronic logging devices are here to stay.
If you want to truly improve your driver retention rate, you will have to make your drivers overcome the fear of ELDs.
It is up to fleet managers to explain that the ELD mandate also has multiple benefits for commercial drivers.
- The ELD mandate makes sure that drivers are not harassed or coerced into violating Hours of Service rules and driving more than they are supposed to.
- As ELDs automatically record all the data, drivers won’t have to worry about paper logs. They can stay focused on the road and do what they actually enjoy — driving.
- ELDs reduce the number of HOS violations and penalties that drivers have to deal with. Form & manner, falsified logs, and outdated logs violations can be completely eliminated with the help of ELDs.
- With ELDs, drivers can actually earn more money. ELDs record driving events down to the second, which allows drivers to gain more time on the road. In comparison, paper logs require drivers to round up to the nearest 15 minutes, which cuts into time that could be spent driving.
Moreover, contrary to the common belief, ELDs do not report HOS violations automatically — which means that many of the privacy concerns that drivers have are based on myths, instead of facts.
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