What if companies could reliably prevent a particular type of loss that costs them millions of dollars annually? That’s exactly what trucking companies can do with some straightforward strategies in onboarding and retaining truck drivers. Industry data and our own research and surveys have helped Strategic Programs, Inc. identify ways to improve driver retention, especially within the first year.
Truck drivers are an important component of the Midwest economy with about 460,000 people employed in this occupation today and an increased demand of up to 8.5% for this occupation predicted by 2024.* Yet, keeping truck drivers is a perennial problem with nearly three quarters of new truck drivers leaving the profession within the first year, making it difficult to meet today’s demand for this occupation, let alone build the talent pipeline that will be needed in the future. Such turnover is expensive, costing trucking companies an average of about $3 million annually.
Driver exits are preventable 72% of the time. Employers can help stanch the flow of drivers leaving through such strategies as fleet manager training and setting clear expectations with new drivers.
The Illinois Workforce Innovation Board’s Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (TDL) Task Force looked into the truck driver shortage, and found that retention was an important component of building a healthy talent pool. To address retention, the task force identified the four most promising strategies for reducing turnover rates among truck drivers:
- Being more selective when hiring new drivers.
- Changing recruiters’ incentives so they aren’t measuring success by how many drivers they sign but by how many of the drivers they sign are retained.
- Creating a mentoring network of experienced drivers to guide new drivers.
- Training fleet managers and dispatchers to better interact and work with drivers.
Solutions addressing driver turnover, especially within that crucial first year, have proven very cost effective. One of the most effective ways to reduce driver turnover is to better develop fleet managers through extensive fleet manager training. Fleet manager training is not only a cost effective way to make sure your fleet managers and drivers are well trained but it also ensure the two roles maintain a positive and productive relationship.
In order to ensure a good fit with new drivers, Strategic also promotes setting expectations early on in the hiring and on-boarding process. For this, the company offers the New Drivers Expectations Exchange, which is a template questionnaire that can be used when screening or on-boarding new drivers to ensure that the potential employee understands the daily life of a truck driver.
It’s becoming clear that these strategies are certainly among the most effective for truck drivers and probably other occupations, as well.
For more tips for driver retention, visit, the People Element website.
*Data comes from research done by the Midwest Transportation Workforce Center as part of its Job Needs and Priorities Report: Phase I.
About the Author
Megan has over eleven years experience with People Element analyzing client-specific surveys, interpreting the results, and building action plans for clients in several industries. Megan has a Bachelor’s degree in education and graduate studies in Industrial & Organizational Psychology. Her clients range in size from small, single-location organizations to Fortune 100 national systems with locations across the country.
Megan has been asked to speak at conferences and conventions across the country on topics such as employee retention and effectively using employee satisfaction and engagement data to create positive change. She is also a regular blog author and contributor and has been quoted in industry publications multiple times. With her clients, she implements various People Element surveys and assessments, analyzes the results to find data trends, makes recommendations for improvement, and provide tools and strategies to help to reduce employee turnover and improve engagement.