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The American Trucking Association reports the trucking industry was short 60,800 drivers in 2018. This shortage is increasing fast, and if current trends hold, the trucker shortage may increase to 160,000 drivers by 2028

When you consider all the costs associated with finding and hiring new drivers, ramping up your retention efforts can save you thousands and it will create a better environment for your employees. The following are a few ways you can make your company more attractive to employees and retain drivers longer.

1. Show Appreciation and Respect for Drivers

When asked why they think fleets have a hard time retaining top performers, 66% of drivers said respect was a critical factor. Truck drivers want to feel like they’re part of the team. In fact, 20% say truck driving is a thankless job. One way to foster truck driver appreciation is to develop a mentorship program. It can build a sense of community to pair experienced drivers with new drivers. Through this mentorship, new hires can learn the ropes of the company from older drivers. They can also learn ways to manage the stress of long hauls and everyday life as a trucker.

2. Set Realistic Job Expectations

Transparency reigns supreme when it comes to increasing driver retention. In the first quarter of 2019, only 64.9% of newly hired drivers lasted 90 days. When a job doesn’t live up to expectations, drivers realize it quickly. If recruiters misrepresent what a position will be like, it could lead to higher turnover rates from new hires. It’s critical to be honest with new drivers and provide accurate information. Recruiters need to be truthful about what it’s like driving for your fleet, what kind of compensation drivers will receive, and what kind of routes they’ll travel.

Interstate Distributors, a fleet based in Tacoma, Washington, pays their recruiters a straight salary rather than a commission per driver. When recruiters are paid to get drivers in the door, they are more likely to sugarcoat the job. Drivers hired this way are more likely to become dissatisfied and move on to another fleet. When recruiters are encouraged to find the best candidates, they can be upfront about traffic, company culture, and compensation.

3. Commit to Providing Employer Support

When asked what they disliked about their jobs, 40% of drivers said that regulations make it hard to make a living. In addition, 37% of truckers rank paying their bills as their top concern. Other top concerns include:

  • Health
  • Home and family time
  • Saving for retirement

A retention program should prioritize drivers’ concerns. A retention strategy that gives truckers support navigating regulations, financial planning, wellness programs, and time off when needed is invaluable.

A vital part of providing employer support is knowing what your drivers need. Seeking feedback can give you insight into the issues your drivers struggle with and help you identify pain points that lead to disengagement. Simply showing a willingness to listen to drivers’ concerns can have a positive impact. Consider anonymous surveys or group chats so drivers feel they can give honest feedback. Conducting exit surveys can also help you pinpoint why drivers move on.

4. Offer Competitive Pay

Drivers and fleet managers have consistently found pay to be the number one factor that limits retention. A high wage per mile can lead to low compensation if the driver doesn’t have consistently high mileage. One way to give drivers more security with their pay is to offer guaranteed minimum miles per week. A guaranteed mileage can provide more stability than a higher paying job with fewer miles.

Another way to offer competitive pay is to provide a health insurance package or a retirement package. The more you can ease financial burdens for your drivers, the more inclined they may be to stay. 

Two Truckers

5. Respect Trucker’s Home Life

Out of necessity, trucking means long hours on the road away from home. Truck drivers who are initially attracted to the traveling and independence of the job might crave more time with family when they get married or have children. Understanding that these life changes can have an impact on retention is crucial for helping drivers achieve a work-life balance.

Even in a demanding career like truck driving, employers can help their teams enjoy family time and life outside of work. The key is to build visibility into driver calendars. The further in advance truckers know their schedules, the more they can plan around it. If they know when they’ll be home next, they can plan for family time. It’s also critical to be forgiving with time off requests and to honor driver preferences when building weekly schedules.

6. Be Smart With New Technology

When fleet managers implement new technology, it’s often to improve productivity. Technology that prioritizes life on the road can have a hidden impact on productivity through increased employee engagement and retention. Satellite TV and radio can provide much-needed entertainment and create better working conditions.

Technology that drives productivity often makes employees wary. When asked about new technology, 53% of drivers saw it as a way to increase monitoring and control, while 30% thought it would bring wages down. Consider technological advances in terms of their human benefits first. For example, a technology that optimizes shipments and gives drivers more time off can be a win-win for you and your drivers.

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7. Support Driver Health

While 17% of drivers rank their health as their top concern, 50% rate it within their top three concerns. Improving driver health benefits your team by keeping drivers out of the doctor’s office. It can also benefit perceptions of the industry as a whole.

The following measures can help you support driver health:

  • Keeping exercise equipment in trucks can help your drivers maintain an active lifestyle wherever their route takes them.
  • Wellness programs that reward healthy eating and weight loss can encourage employees to stay healthy.
  • Health screenings can give drivers more access to health care and show them you care about their well-being.

8. Invest in Quality Equipment and Trucks

Inadequate equipment or trucks is another reason truckers leave their fleets. Poor maintenance can put drivers in danger, and old machinery can increase breakdowns and unscheduled downtime. Proper equipment can improve day-to-day life on the road, keep drivers safe, and save everyone time.

Desirable truck attributes include:

  • Comfortable seats: Long drives and many hours sitting in the driver’s seat call for specially-designed ergonomic chairs according to nearly 70% of truckers.
  • Auxiliary power units (APUs): An APU keeps the cab’s auxiliary equipment and even the AC and heat running while the truck is idling. It saves you money on diesel costs and keeps truckers comfortable on the road. They’re a critical upgrade for 60% of drivers.
  • Newer model: Better trucks have more of the latest features. They may also have fewer breakdowns and improved fuel efficiency. For 55% of drivers, newer models are vital.

By investing in top-quality equipment and trucks, you show drivers you care about their safety and comfort on the road.

man driving a truck

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