High Turnover and Driver Retention

help wantedHigh turnover rates in the trucking industry not only cause the demand for a qualified driver, but cost companies substantially in the areas of recruiting and training. This cost, eliminates other benefits that can be better utilized in the areas of driver retention and creating a bonus program that would help in eliminating some of the driver turnover.

Wages and incentives can be the biggest areas for driver turn over. If you were to look at what benefits you have in your package, and calculate it with a visual that your drivers can see, what do you have to offer them to create a good working relationship? Your drivers make your business, and are the foundation of the industry itself. Without the the driver there is no company.

Do you see a pattern in your drivers? If you were to look at the previous employment history of all your drivers and how many companies they have worked for in a short period of time, and then looking at their safety records or violation records with their previous employment what type of pattern do you see?

A shortage of drivers and it’s been feared that the implementation of CSA 2010 is going to eliminate even more positions for qualified commercial drivers. In the past the driver shortage was contributed to the growth of business, drivers who have left the industry and new drivers coming into the industry were less, choosing not to become a commercial driver as a career, or going from company to company.

In my experience I have seen that a driver who has multiple jobs in a short period of time, have been more likely to have been in some type of altercation of and incident or accident and various violations during roadside stops. And a driver who had a more stable work history were less likely to have any such incidents or accidents.

Look at the areas that the areas that can assist you in the improvement of your driver turnover. Areas such as hiring and the selection process, training procedures ( if applicable) dispatch areas, the conditions for a long haul driver, time out on the road, days off, benefits such as; safety related bonuses, holiday bonus, and how to improve the drivers perception of trucking companies.

The “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality can be a domino effect if you are not implementing everything you have to offer your driver. Its the “Pay now or Pay Later” you have to think about.

There are two different types of models that we can look at when hiring. Hiring for the short term and hiring for the long term.

Don’t be the company that hires for the short term, thinking that you hire someone, thinking that they won’t stay long enough to have to worry about benefits such as bonuses and 401k.

What happens as we stated earlier, instead of paying now and giving to the drivers you already have, you spend more on the recruiting, training time, and even more important down equipment while you are going through this hiring process.

Now the long term hiring model is beginning the build of the financial success of you business and looking at it in a different perspective. By making things consistent, offering benefits, making you employee feel more like a person rather than a number.

A driver spends a lot of time on the road by themselves, this can make them feel isolated and alone. When they pick up the phone sometimes its the tone they hear on the other line that can make the start of bad day good.

Take necessary action to make your driver get the best out of your company by giving back. Here are some examples of how you can look at beginning to implement a plan.

Begin with a sign on bonus upon hiring, the odds of a driver staying for the period of that sign on bonus are better than if there was not one in place. You have taken that driver that may have stayed for 3 months to a year working towards that extra bonus.

Offer performance or safety bonus – This can be an important bonus because it can give not only an incentive for your drivers to their best in their performance, but it can also help your company keep the safety rating you need and stay compliant under DOT regulations.

Benefits that fit the needs of a driver and your business when it comes to health insurance help eliminate the financial aspect of going to the doctor in the event of illness. A driver who can not pay a high deductible to see a doctor can limit the health of the driver on the road and can create a potential problem. Work at finding benefits that have a co-pay and is easy for your employee to get the information and coverage they need for themselves and their family.

Educate your drivers in all aspects of their positions. By giving them the knowledge they need to perform their duty effectively it creates less stress for the driver and for your company.

gabAnd last but not least, keep the lines of communication open. Have one person that no matter if its job related or even a personal issue that your driver feels confident in talking to when it comes to a problem.

The one thing I have learned being a member at VAnetworking is how important communication on any level is important.

When any person has an issue it can effect us in everything we do day to day. No matter how hard we try it still is on our mind where ever we go. So imagine getting in a truck and being in silence and having a lot of time to think. How would you deal with a personal issue such as; a potential divorce, a problem with a child, financial issues when you are sitting behind the wheel not knowing what to do.

Paying attention to your drivers and getting to them is important, because you can start seeing the tell-tale signs of an attitude change that can be a direct result of an emotional issue that can lead to further unnecessary problems. A driver who has been pretty low key and pleasant to talk to, suddenly becomes verbal and easily aggravated and shows changes and gets “He is not normally like that” should be a sign that maybe its time to intervene and help them, instead of waiting until its too late.

You can also look at communication in a different perspective of the last line of communication a driver has had as he walks out the door to begin his driving time.

“The last thing that happened that has upset your driver, was an argument with a dispatcher. He walks out the door angry, gets in the truck and at this point he doesn’t care he starts the truck and stomps the pedal and shifts hard into gear and off he goes. Driving down the road with no other distraction, except to think about the situation that just happened. The more the he thinks about the more aggravated he get.”

So now you have a potential for disaster, an angry driver, not paying enough attention to what is happening around him, and the potential for an accident. This is what you don’t want, you want your driver to be content in his job. Our emotions base or abilities, eliminate this possible situation and you eliminate the potential for an un-necessary accident.

The truth of the matter is in your driver retention is finding a balance that can meet most needs. I say most because no matter what you do in your company, you will never have a perfect level for each individual person.

You can as a company eliminate a higher turnover in your drivers and eliminate recruiting costs if you implement a plan to hire in the long term and begin building your drivers into successful drivers that go out and say “ I work for the best company….” this is what you want. This spills over to other potential drivers that can benefit your company and can even make a difference in your customers as well.

If you need help in putting together a plan for your drivers visit Online Virtual Office Solutions. If you need a driver training plan or safety plan visit: ABC 3rd Party DOTdqfiles.com 

2 thoughts on “High Turnover and Driver Retention

  1. I just wanted to comment on a couple of things from a truck-drivers’ wife’s point of view:
    A driver spends a lot of time on the road by themselves, this can make them feel isolated and alone. When they pick up the phone sometimes its the tone they hear on the other line that can make the start of bad day good.
    This goes for calling home too! Sometimes Hubby will call at the worst possible time for us, but at the best time for him…we ALWAYS take the time to talk to him; we share the boys’ activities, I ask his advice on something or just let him vent (WITHOUT taking it personally ladies!)
    I look at it this way, he’s living one life, we’re living another, and in order to keep us together as a family certain sacrifices have to be made.
    We have been married 20 years, he’s been an OTR all that time, and we’ve both learned how to do things to keep it together.
    Viki Garrison

    • I am also from a truck-drivers wife’s perspective 🙂 as well as I drove before I was married. My husband was over the road in the lower 48 and now he drives heavy haul in Alaska so we have had to do the same things to work on keeping ours together. Although it has not been as long we both know from having the industry around for as long as we have how tough it can be. He grew up in the trucking way of life and I have been there my whole adult life. Thanks for commenting. Happy Holidays

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