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How To Reduce New Hire Driver Turnover

semi trucks parked

According to a Commercial Carriers Journal survey involving 423 fleet management subscribers, fleets are primarily focused on managing job expectations and helping drivers adapt to a new culture to reduce new hire driver turnover. Many of the surveyed subscribers were small carriers – 61 percent had less than 100 trucks. About 18 percent of all fleets in the survey are losing between 25 and 50 percent of new drivers in the first 90 days. 61 percent say they have less than 25 percent turnover in the first 90 days and 19 percent generally have no turnover in that period.

Why Drivers Leave in the first 90 Days

40 percent of fleet managers say unmet job expectations is the main reason drivers quit, followed by 27 percent who say early turnover is primarily a result of new drivers not fitting into their company culture. Mismatched job expectations are something you can avoid and improve through your advertising, recruiting, hiring and aligning processes.


Have your senior driver approve your advertising to ensure it accurately promotes the top qualities of your job. (Not using misleading advertisements is a given.)


Have dispatch listen to your recruiters to ensure they accurately and fully describe the job to applicants. Create realistic job preview videos for your online job descriptions so applicants can actually see what the new job will be like before applying.


Ask questions that highlight behaviors specific to your job – ask for specific past examples how they might accomplish the tasks you require of your drivers.


Create a one-page Culture Contract that clearly defines your expectations for the new driver and the new driver’s expectations for you. Then, review the Culture Contract monthly to keep it relevant and measure how the driver and manager are living up to the mutually agreed upon expectations. This gives your new driver a golden ticket that he or she can bring to his or her manager should they not live up to the defined and mutually agreed upon Culture Contract.

Have a senior leader of your company–the higher up, the better–call in the first 30 days to thank the driver for joining the company and ask if you are living up to his or her expectations. If there is a gap between the expectations and reality, be prepared to address the gap or explain the reasons why the situation is this way. Hearing the “why” behind an explanation from someone in a corner office goes a long way to winning a driver’s understanding and trust.

Have your recruiters call once a week or so in the first 30 days to double check that the job is how she or he described it to that driver. Also, have your dispatchers make “check in” calls weekly in the first 90 days just to see how their drivers are doing. Thank them for joining the company and for any other behavior worth celebrating. This call should be just a personal check in – it should have nothing to do with a live load or any other job related stuff.

It might also help to assign all new hires a driver mentor who can show the new driver the ropes. Provide the driver mentor with a checklist of items to cover in the first one to two weeks on the job that will help ease the driver into their duties. Another good idea is to automate the redundant new hire paperwork that chews up the first few hours. This wastes time that you can reassign to talk with drivers to set expectations. Also, a lot of paperwork with little conversation feels like starting a marriage with a pre-nuptial agreement.

This is not rocket science. You know you should be doing this “small stuff” but the desperation to fill your empty trucks has causes mangers to rush past these important details. Start with the checklist above and implement a few ideas. Measure what your new hire turnover is today and evaluate the impact these processes have on your numbers across 90 days. If you’re ever confused what to do, just remember to love safe drivers.

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