5 Ways Transportation Companies Can Increase Driver Retention
There’s a chance that more than half of the truck drivers you hire will leave their jobs within the first six months. Though that rate will likely be higher if you maintain a fleet of larger trucks, fleets with smaller trucks nonetheless take a hit when it comes to turnover. The total cost of truck drivers leaving their jobs? A staggering $2.8 billion per year.
As workers around the world call for better pay, benefits, and working conditions, the life of a truck driver has seldom changed. Despite the immense contribution drivers make to communities around the world, they’re still expected to meet back-breaking timelines and many catch what sleep they can in the cabs of their trucks.
As of 2019, the trucking industry was short nearly 61,000 drivers. Fleet managers should take that driver shortage seriously, as 20% fewer drivers were trained in 2020 than in 2019. To keep up with demands, fleets need to not only keep great drivers on the road but also attract and retain new ones.
Here are five ways transportation companies can increase driver satisfaction, and, as a result, driver retention.
1. Fine Tune Recruitment and Onboarding
Retaining drivers often starts with hiring the right drivers from the start. If the drivers you’re hiring are a great fit for your organization, then they’re more likely to stick around for the long haul. But attracting the right drivers means being honest about what you expect of your drivers and what they can expect of you.
Be clear about the big details like pay and benefits, but also be forthcoming when it comes to scheduling and other aspects of their lives on the road. This should also include lodging. Will they sleep in their truck or in a hotel
Speaking to realities like this will set drivers up to succeed, rather than be disappointed.
Related: 7+ Truck Friendly Hotel Chains
2. Set Clear, Realistic Expectations for Your Drivers
Expectation setting doesn’t end at onboarding. Everything you ask a driver to do after they’ve started is an opportunity to earn their trust. If, for example, you assured your drivers that they’d never be asked to drive more than ten hours a day, try to avoid routes that push them to do so.
If you do have to bend an expectation, be sure to create an open dialogue so your drivers can ask questions or provide feedback. Their perspectives do matter, since they can choose to drive for a different fleet at any time.
Hold monthly meetings so all drivers are in-the-know, and encourage an open-door policy so drivers can express what they expect of you. This reciprocity is great for both employer and employee, as it allows fleet managers to address concerns before they snowball and gives drivers the voices they deserve.
3. Celebrate Wins–Often
Drivers do great things every day. While safely getting from point A to point B is still something to celebrate, there are even more milestones you can really hype up. Set goals for benchmarks like consecutive collision-free days, safe miles driven, or even positive customer reviews, all of which will be great for your business, but will also give your driver something to work towards.
Drivers who feel appreciated are more likely to stick around for the long haul, especially if they’re gaining skills while they’re at it. If your drivers are already doing great things, you can also celebrate any time they improve on less-than-ideal habits, like reducing idle time or minimizing downtime. These are all fun ways to encourage better driving while also showing your drivers that you truly appreciate their hard work.
4. Invest In Better Equipment–And Don’t Skimp on Maintaining It
If you dread an uncomfortable driver’s seat for your weekly trip to the grocery store, imagine how it’d feel to sit in that seat for up to 11 hours a day—for days on end. Investing in quality equipment is one of the best ways to retain drivers because it’s a direct investment in their health and safety. Poor seats, lack of cab space or any other unreliable equipment can all cause nightmares on the road.
Though commercial vehicles already come at a high cost (often upwards of $100,000), this is still one of a transportation company’s most important investments. Go the extra mile to ensure your drivers feel safe and comfortable behind the wheel, without fear that their brakes will go out or smoke will start spiraling from the engine. Take maintenance seriously from the start and you’ll win your drivers’ trust, something that can make them more likely to stick around.
5. Keep Drivers Safe By Booking Hotel Rooms on the Road
Once upon a time, sleeper cabs were the gold standard of long-distance truck driving. While being able to sleep in the cab can still be valuable in a pinch, drivers deserve a good night’s sleep in an actual bed and perhaps even a complimentary cup of coffee in the morning. But it’s not just about the quality rest.
Carriers actually reported that drivers felt safer sleeping behind the locked door of their hotel room, something that’s particularly attractive to female drivers. Steve Bramble, director of talent acquisition for Holland, told Transport Topics that this actually drew drivers to his organization, since not all carriers book rooms for their drivers.
Though booking hotel rooms for your entire fleet may seem complicated, tools like Hotel Engine can simplify the entire process. With Hotel Engine, you can visualize your booking activity in a single, easy-to-use dashboard, making it easy to book and manage lodging at scale. You’ll even have access to Hotel Engine’s 700,000+ hotels, including locations along rural routes, at savings up to 60%, so you can cut costs and keep your drivers safe at the same time.
So there you have it! Five tangible ways to keep your drivers happy and on the road. No matter how you choose to invest in your drivers, it’s no doubt they’ll appreciate the sentiment. Trucking is an important but taxing occupation. Any steps you can take to make life on the road a bit easier are sure to have a positive impact.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.