For transportation industry professionals, the issue of driver recruitment and retention isn’t anything new. But the ongoing shortage of truck drivers has the potential to become an even bigger challenge, both for fleets and the broader supply chain.
According to estimates from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the trucking industry could see a driver shortfall of 100,000 in five years and 160,000 by 2028. To avoid this fallout, it is important to know what factors are behind attracting new drivers and keeping the ones you have. One influence is how your business establishes driver pay rates and company policies, two of the primary factors behind bringing a driver on board. Another is your fleet management team, whose role is to keep them there.
Are your influences at odds with each other? Are they aligned on both delivering and executing the same message? Perhaps more importantly, would your drivers, your field managers and your executives all give the same answers to these questions? It is crucial that they do because consensus across your organization is key to creating and maintaining a successful strategy to retain your drivers.
While there may be dozens of different aspects that can inform a retention strategy to reduce driver turnover, they can largely fit into three distinct areas of responsibility: corporate, field management and the drivers themselves. In developing your strategy, here are some important tips to ensure each group is working toward the same goal.
1. Take a holistic approach
For starters, it is imperative that corporate stakeholders do their part through competitive wages, consistent and fair policies regarding home time, and well-maintained trucks and equipment. When it comes to well-maintained equipment, it is also smart to provide your drivers with technology to help them do their job more effectively and efficiently.
Whether it is in-cab technology that enables improved workflows or back-office solutions such as a TMS to more effectively plan routes, having the right tools in place will not only benefit your bottom line but make your drivers’ experience a better one.
2. Pay attention to day-to-day details
In addition to some of these fundamentals, your field managers must maintain driver-focused policies and have the ability to identify any gaps and quickly address them.
One way to do this is to make sure that your field managers are able to provide your drivers with effective and open communication channels. Having these communication channels in place can help you more effectively provide drivers with recognition, training resources and a path for problem resolution, as well as ensure equitable treatment across your driver base.
Other operational details matter, too, such as staying up to date on equipment maintenance and consistently delivering on income and fair working conditions. These day-to-day details are important to keep on top of since they are likely some of the reasons why a driver decided to join your fleet in the first place.
3. Empower drivers from the start
You can start knowing what motivates your drivers before you hire them. By level-setting during the hiring process, you can establish expectations from the beginning.
Remember to ask questions such as, “Do you place a higher value on home time over miles?” and “Can your income expectations be met by joining our fleet?” Knowing this information upfront enables both you and your potential drivers to make an informed hiring decision.
Why is this information so critical? One study indicated that more than one-third of new drivers quit within 90 days; an additional 22% quit within six months. If a similar trend is occurring in your fleet, make sure you understand what might be behind these departures through exit interviews and by addressing any common themes shared during them. Once a driver is onboarded, regularly solicit feedback and respond to it effectively. Like most employees, drivers prefer to have solid reasons to stay with an employer instead of reasons to find another one.
While your company may not be able to develop a custom schedule or retention strategy that works for every driver, providing effective communication from the start and continuing to address drivers’ concerns will foster a sense of loyalty to your fleet and, ultimately, reduce turnover.
Gain more insights on supporting your drivers
Interested in uncovering more advice on how to support your drivers and keep them satisfied driving for your fleet? Take part in Trimble’s Supply Chain in.sights, a virtual series of complimentary educational events centered on elevating your perspective of the transportation supply chain — regardless of where you operate in it.
In our next series of sessions, scheduled for Sept. 21 and 23, we are shining a light on how to enhance the driver experience. Register now to take part and get the information you need to not only improve your driver experience but put your fleet on the road to increased productivity and a better bottom line.