Stopping Driver Turnover During The First Six Months 

Posted by Mark G. Gardner on March 16, 2017 in the category Retention
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Most of the trucking companies we work with have a solid core of veteran drivers who have been with them for years, but almost everyone seems to suffer from the constant driver turnover that happens during the first six months. That’s the most expensive and disruptive kind of turnover.

There are several reasons drivers quit. For now, I’d like to focus the one reason that seems to bubble to the top when drivers quit during the first six months: 

“The job wasn't what I expected.”

When you experience a lot of turnover during the first six months, you need to take a long, hard look at your recruiting process. In particular, how did you portray the job in the first place?  What do your ads and recruiters say? Drivers who quit during the first six months always say the same thing: the job wasn’t what I expected it would be.  Why is that?  Did someone lie? Or was it just an honest case of miscommunication?  What really happened? 

We wanted to get to the root cause. To do so, we relied partially on our study of human consciousness. Humans have the unique ability to create a mental story about our future.  We actually imagine the events unfolding and develop expectations.  We do it all day long, every day of our lives.  But sometimes our stories don’t come true. Reality fails to match our consciousness and we’re disappointed.

That’s exactly what happens when a driver says the job isn’t what they expected it would be.  They had a story, right or wrong, in their head, and it didn’t come true.  Is it the recruiter’s fault?  Did they over-promise?  Or is it the driver’s fault?  Did he or she create an overly rosy story about the job?  We don’t care about blame or fault.  We care about fixing the problem.

All different kinds of people apply to work for your company.  You need an effective way to portray the job as it actually is, regardless of how each applicant views the world.  You need to show the good, the bad and the ugly.

Here are three ways to do it:

  1. Driver-to-Driver Meeting
  2. Expectations Agreement
  3. Realistic Job Preview

The first strategy is simple and low cost.  Somewhere in your hiring process, schedule a direct one-on-one conversation between the applicant and one of your senior drivers.  This can be face to face or over the phone, but other than making the introduction, you shouldn’t be involved.  The two of them can have an open, honest, private and productive conversation about the true nature of the job.  Ideally, some of the applicants will realize that it’s not the right fit and will go somewhere else.  Congratulations, you just saved $5,000.

The second strategy is to create a one-page document that details the job and your expectations for how the driver must behave. It should also have a list of expectations the driver has for how he or she wants to be treated.

The third strategy is best: a Realistic Job Preview.  This is a six-minute video that objectively portrays all aspects of the job, alternating between the positives and the negatives.  It ends with the driver completing a self-assessment to self-determine if the job is a good fit. You don’t get to see their answers.  The self-assessment is for their eyes only and helps them determine if they are going to like the job.

These three strategies have been proven to reduce voluntary turnover in the first six months.  You can use one of them or all three.  They pay for themselves.

Need help getting started?  Just visit us at avatarfleet.com and check out our blog or shoot us an email with your questions.

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