The driver turnover problem costs the trucking industry approximately $2.8 billion a year. This figure includes profit losses due to idle equipment, recruitment of replacement drivers, etc.
The driver turnover rate for large truckload carriers has now jumped to 94% — which is a 20% increase from the turnover rate in the first quarter of 2017. For small carriers—those with less than $30 million in annual revenue—the driver turnover rate is 73%.
Statistics tell us that early driver turnover is the biggest issue here, and carriers may solve a big part of the driver retention puzzle by focusing on newly hired drivers, especially in the first few months.
Stay Metrics, an employee engagement and retention platform, conducted a survey that involved around 62,000 drivers from over 100 trucking companies. According to their findings, 70 percent of drivers who leave a carrier do so within their first year in service. The study also highlights that 57% of newly hired drivers leave their carriers within the first six months of employment. Also, 35% of these drivers quit within the first three months.
Here are a few things carriers can do to deal with the early turnover and improve the driver retention rate.
Driver retention starts with recruitment
Tim Hindes, CEO, and co-founder of Stay Metrics believes that driver retention should start with driver recruitment. He stressed that a company should clearly and accurately communicate the company’s expectations from drivers early on. This includes the miles and benefits that drivers will receive during their tenure with the fleet.
“Carriers who are good at communicating exactly what a driver’s experience will be like gain a reputation for truth-telling,” said Hindes.
As an engagement platform, Stay Metrics allows companies to run employee surveys that help fleets gauge the impact of better internal relationships on driver retention. In their report, it was found that early turnover can be reduced by roughly 16 percent if drivers are happy with a dispatcher.
“The report highlights the value of recruiting with driver retention in mind and using survey data at critical periods of the employment cycle to reduce driver turnover,” said Hindes. “Carriers can use this data to understand the importance of good relationships between drivers and their recruiters and dispatchers.”
For the recruitment process to be effective, remember that a recruiter is representative of your organization’s values and mission. Therefore, you need someone who is not only relatable and approachable but also a good communicator who can highlight the key strengths of your fleet.
Carriers can improve the driver retention rate by refining the driver recruitment process. Make sure to offer competitive packages, highlight monetary as well as non-monetary rewards, hire like-minded people with similar values and priorities, and set clear expectations.
For more information, read: Fighting the truck driver shortage: 5 driver recruitment tips to remember
The role of fleet managers in driver retention
A driver’s relationship with his/her fleet manager may also play a crucial role.
Statistics reveal that 94 percent of disengaged drivers feel that their supervisors don’t understand their problems. 42 percent of drivers then leave early because of insufficient feedback from their manager.
Open communication is more important for new drivers during their first few months of employment. If there’s a huge gap between what they were promised during recruitment and what they actually get, it may cause problems. New drivers may need a fleet manager or mentor who will listen, provide them with solutions, and help them adjust or meet their expectations.
Discuss important points with new drivers, such as home time, miles per week, and compensation to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Driver training and onboarding
Driver training has always been necessary. However, with the introduction of new technological products, such as electronic logging devices, dashcams, and fleet management software, an effective driver training program has become more important than ever.
Make sure that drivers thoroughly understand the ELD you’re using. According to a Motive survey, only 21% of drivers are happy with the quality of their ELD solution, and 73% of drivers experience one or more ELD issues per week.
This is why driver training/onboarding is so crucial. Otherwise, drivers may feel frustrated with your particular ELD solution and quit—especially in the first few months of their employment. Apart from driver training, it is also important to have an easy-to-use and driver-friendly ELD solution.
A carrier may resolve the driver retention problem by controlling the early driver turnover rate. Start with an effective driver recruitment process that sets clear expectations. Assign mentors that could help newly hired drivers in the first few months. Driver training and onboarding processes may also play crucial roles in containing the early driver turnover rate.