Driver retention depends heavily on company culture. In an article from Heavy Duty Trucking’s online magazine, Deborah Lockridge, Editor-in-Chief wrote about drivers and their reasons for satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
While every driver is different, many of their pain points can be common and often they are the same few things. It is up to you as the manager to identify those pain points and do something about them. A driver centric culture can eliminate some of these pain points altogether.
The Driver Experience
According to the article, those surveyed as they left the trucking organizations gave their company the lowest scores for these statements:
- My company appreciates its employers/owner-operators
- I earned what I thought I would when I was hired
- My manager/dispatcher was effective in resolving problems.
- Delays were minimal at the customer.
- I was paid fairly for everything I did on the job.
So what do these statements tell us? Drivers feel unappreciated, underpaid, unsupported, and even misled. Any driver would leave a job under those circumstances, even if their manager or other drivers didn’t say things that way. A driver’s perception is their reality, which is why a driver-centric culture is so important.
If you take time to listen to your drivers, many problems falling under these areas mentioned above can be fixed or even prevented. This is why we always suggest that companies develop a culture contract with each new driver. This is a very simple one page document that lays out in plain terms what the expectations should be for both the manager and the driver. Each person signs it and is held to it.
It sounds simple, because it should be. Your company needs to prove that it cares about its drivers-that they are more than just tools for making a company profit. So by signing a contract, you are staking your word to what the driver expects to experience working for your company. Stick with that, and you have a great start.
A Living, Breathing Contract
But circumstances can change quickly. Maybe that driver wants more hours or more home time than you agreed upon at the beginning. That is why it’s so important to have sit down meetings with drivers at once a month to revisit your contract. It’s a great way to see how things are going with each person and also to hear about problems around the company. If you need to make changes to the contract, you can do it then and there.
Better yet, make it living document that helps the driver hit yearly goals. Breaking yearly goals into achievable weekly activities keeps the driver and manager making measurable improvements.
If you take this time to hear drivers out and ensure that their needs are being met, it speaks volumes about your company. Drivers will notice that someone cares and will work hard to help make their jobs as easy as possible. You can’t put a price tag on how valuable that effect is on a company culture. But you can save time, money and effort from looking for drivers to replace the ones who left before.
Good News: Your Competition is Weak
The Heavy Duty Trucking article concluded that “At the end of the day, 72 percent of the exits are saying the company could have done something different to keep those who left”. That’s way too many drivers. Don’t be like most trucking companies. Set a new high standard for the industry with a simple tool.
Continue to work to understand your drivers’ needs and keep more drivers working for you. Develop a culture contract that puts into the simplest terms what your company is all about and what you have to offer to a new driver. If you can show that to a driver and then work to make sure that the expectations are met, they will not only hold up their end of the bargain but enjoy working with you to increase productivity.
Download our ebook on driver retention to get more specific (and easy to implement) tips on developing culture contracts and other strategies to use along with that to increase driver retention: