The truck driver shortage is nothing new, but the pandemic and ongoing global supply chain issues aren’t helping. President Biden’s administration made truck driver hiring a national policy priority in late 2021, which means you’re not alone in facing driver recruitment and retention challenges. That’s reassuring, but makes competition stiff for skilled drivers. These driver recruitment and retention strategies can help.

Why is it important to have a good driver recruitment strategy?

The national driver shortage puts pressure on supply chain logistics. The American Trucking Associations estimates a national shortfall of approximately 80,000 drivers.

Your fleet isn’t suffering the shortage on that scale. However, any driver shortage undermines the productivity and profitability of your organization. You want to deliver cargo in a timely and efficient way, but you could end up with a backlog without drivers available to take the routes. Even worse, you may have to turn customers away. 

Plus, drivers rushing to complete deliveries to accept more work can risk road safety. Drivers may feel pressured to drive aggressively or engage in other dangerous behaviors trying to keep up with demand. 

Truck driver recruitment tips

This article’s truck driver recruiting ideas can help you compete with other commercial fleets for freshly trained, new drivers and the experienced driver looking for a new opportunity. 

Target prospects in compelling marketing materials

You may have glossy marketing materials that discuss your company’s greatness. You discuss when the company was established, growth achieved, awards won, and more. It all makes your company look good to customers and investors, but creating distinct, compelling marketing materials targeting prospective drivers makes more sense.

Truck drivers aren’t as interested in their company’s achievements. More than anything else, they want to know what benefits them. After all, what good does it do them to get hired by the most prestigious trucking company, if they only get half the benefits that other drivers get?

When creating your recruitment marketing materials, be sure to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Unless you give this question a compelling enough answer, you won’t get nearly as many applicants.

Run a referral program

Word of mouth is your most powerful marketing tool. If you want to recruit more drivers, then you need to run referral programs so your drivers can tell their connections about it.

Drivers might be reluctant to refer new drivers to your fleet for fear of losing work. Some drivers have the mindset that more drivers mean less work for them. Be sure to outline how having more drivers will let your fleet take on more loads. That means more work for everybody.

Establish a web presence

Most professionals nowadays check out a company’s digital presence before even considering working for them. Drivers are doing the same. Especially younger drivers who are just starting out in the industry.

An established web presence gives truck drivers a better feel of who you are as a company. This should include:

  • An attractive, informative business website
  • Landing pages outlining your driver recruitment program, paid commercial driver license (CDL) training (if you offer it), wages and benefits, and what makes your company appealing and distinct
  • Social media accounts that don’t just show ads. Your content should also capture your business culture and what it’s like to be a driver for your fleet.

Optimize your applications

First, you need to make the application mobile-friendly. You’ll attract more candidates by making it easier for someone to apply on the go. 

Also, optimize your process. If your application process is like doing a decathlon and someone else’s is like playing Tic Tac Toe, you could lose out on qualified candidates. Try to make your application process smooth and simple.

Streamline the timeline for hiring too. You don’t want to miss out on a candidate simply because it took you two weeks to respond rather than one.

Why driver retention strategies are important too

Losing your truck drivers to your competitors is never good. Finding and recruiting a new truck driver is costly. It’s estimated that turnover for a single driver can cost up to $15,000, adding up to an industry-wide cost of $2.8 billion per year.

As all companies and drivers are unique, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to reducing driver turnover. Still, these truck driver retention strategies can help you combat driver turnover

Driver retention strategies to keep your best drivers

Retaining existing, trained drivers is another way fleet managers can address the truck driver shortage.

Provide better working conditions to drivers

Better working conditions will encourage drivers to stay with your company instead of looking for greener pastures. Combat driver turnover by doing what you can to make drivers’ lives easier. 

Installing electronic logging devices (ELDs) in your trucks is certainly a good starting point. A common driver complaint is poor direction on how to get to the consignee or shipper, or getting stuck in traffic. Remove this challenge for drivers by installing ELDs in your trucks.

Moreover, ELDs completely remove the possibility of form and manner violations. They also improve drivers’ ratings and minimize the number of penalties.

Provide a sense of community

The new driver won’t be the only one that feels disconnected from your company if there isn’t a fleet culture. For a smaller fleet, it will be easier to remember your drivers’ birthdays and other personal details. Even fleet managers in a mid-sized company can check in regularly with drivers to see how they’re feeling about their job. 

Treat all your drivers like professionals and a part of a larger fleet community by encouraging work-life balance. Offer education about retirement and health benefits. Provide tips encouraging healthy habits while on long-haul routes. Inform them about new trends and regulation changes. 

Showing appreciation can help too, and we don’t just meet during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

Create driver feedback loops

Regardless of the industry, strong employee retention begins with effective communication. Your drivers will engage more with your company if they have opportunities to share their input and feel that their recommendations are being heard. 

Set up advisory councils. Use suggestion boxes. Have your fleet managers meet regularly with drivers. Even run surveys using apps. You might also use your ELD to send messages directly to your drivers. 

Before making any momentous adjustments to your bonus system, survey your drivers to learn what’s important to them. Keep in mind that money isn’t always the answer. Also, ask what they don’t want as an incentive to avoid disgruntled drivers.

Take action on your drivers’ suggestions. They’ll feel appreciated as a real person, not just a number.

Offer ongoing development opportunities

Driver turnover rates are particularly high among new drivers:

  • 70% of drivers leave a carrier within the first year.
  • 57% of newly hired drivers leave within the first six months.
  • 35% of new drivers make it through the first 90 days on the job.

Successful onboarding of new employees can help you get immediate buy-in from new recruits. Continuing to offer driver training can make a big dent in these numbers. New drivers often complain about not feeling understood, fully prepared, or connected to their company. You can address this with individualized coaching and mentor programs.

Maintain good relationships even when drivers leave

This may seem like a counterintuitive thing to discuss in an article on driver recruitment tips and retention strategies. But if you maintain a strong relationship with your drivers even after theory leave, they may return to the fold before long.

It isn’t uncommon for drivers to look for other opportunities. When that happens, instead of taking the drivers’ actions personally, try to see things from their perspective. In discussing their exit, have an open discussion with them about their frustrations with your fleet. Identifying their reasons for departure may help you make changes to help retain your other drivers. Also, let them know they’re still welcome in your company should they decide to return.

How Motive can help with your truck driver retention

Drivers have many options available to them. By embracing technology, such as Motive’s fleet management and safety platform, you can make your company stand out. 

ELDs reduce the pain of paperwork and staying compliant. You can also use Motive technology to help simplify vehicle inspections. Telematics and tracking can help keep drivers happy with effective communication of optimized routes.

At the same time, drivers want to operate vehicles that are roadworthy and well maintained. Motive’s vehicle maintenance tools measure vehicle performance and detect problems before they take a truck off the road.

Ongoing training appeals to prospects and retains drivers. With dash cams as part of Motive’s fleet safety software, you can identify at-risk drivers and offer coaching programs within the Motive App. The dash cams also provide risk management teams with valuable insights and can help to exonerate drivers if needed.

Motive’s software offers AI-powered automation to optimize fleet performance and improve your recruitment and retention success. Learn how we can help you. Call 855-434-3564 or email us at