The trucking industry is facing an existential crisis. Companies have freight collecting dust. They have empty seats they can’t fill. And they have just as many drivers leaving as they bring in.
This is the driver problem, and it’s the reason you’re struggling to keep your head above water.
If you’ve read our blogs before, you know all about the driver problem. If this is your first time hearing about it, I have good news. Just like any other problem, your driver problem can be solved.
You can stop hemorrhaging drivers. You can improve your recruiting strategies to attract and hire best-fit drivers. And, you can stop turning away business because you have no one to haul it.
There’s no silver bullet or magic pill you can take to make the driver problem go away, but we do have a very good place for you to start. We have to answer this simple question: what do truck drivers want?
When you understand what all, or at least most truck drivers want, you can accomplish several important goals:
If you can change your company so it provides these things to drivers, your driver problem will be a distant memory.
There are a lot of “new wave management” theories floating around that pay doesn’t motivate people. While it’s true that pay is not the only thing that matters with a job, it’s one of the most important things. After all, the only reason any of us take a job is to make a living.
You may think you pay your drivers well. They might disagree. A recent survey showed that nearly 70% of drivers think they are not paid enough.
Similarly, the Commercial Carrier Journal reports that poor pay was the top reason drivers think companies have trouble finding new workers.
If you want to succeed, you need to offer competitive pay. It’s table stakes.
However, drivers’ issues with pay go beyond how much they’re paid. Sometimes, it’s as simple as HOW they’re paid.
In our exit interviews with drivers and primary research with our clients, drivers are frustrated by complicated pay systems that lack transparency. Drivers feel cheated if they don’t understand what determines their pay. And of course, if drivers feel cheated, they’re going to quit.
It might not be possible to change how much you pay drivers, but you can still take these three simple steps to improve recruitment and retention:
1. Create a simple and predictable pay model
2. Train drivers on how they’re paid so they understand
3. Pay drivers the salary and bonuses you promise them
Truck drivers want benefits such as health, vision, pensions, and retirement plans. Most of them also want more home time and vacation.
Here’s some data to show this matters to them:
Providing extra benefits like vacation days and a retirement plan costs you money, but it does not cost nearly as much money as losing drivers. If you invest in the benefits drivers want, you can reap the rewards of a positive return on your investment from better recruiting and retention.
However, much like pay, the solution starts with being transparent. Not every truck driver cares about more home time, vacation days, or a retirement plan. What they do care about is being told the truth in recruitment.
Don’t sugarcoat the work you have to offer. It’s more expensive to hire a driver and have him quit because he gets less home time than he was promised than it is to not hire him in the first place.
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People don’t quit their job. They quit their boss. Think about how that applies to your truck drivers.
It’s not often that you lose a truck driver because he or she realized it isn’t the career they imagined. It’s much more likely truck drivers quit because of how they’re treated by supervisors, managers, and dispatch.
This article points out that 53% of drivers feel as though their carrier doesn’t respect them. 45% feel as though they are not supported by their carrier. Additionally, we’ve found that many drivers feel as though their company doesn’t trust them when there are driver-facing cameras present.
If you can find ways to increase feelings of trust and respect with your drivers, you can become the employer of choice.
We’ve written about easy ways to show respect to your drivers before. One key component is to train your supervisors and dispatchers. All too often, companies promote people internally to these positions without offering them the proper training. There are crucial soft skills to working with and managing drivers.
A program like The Leadership Development Course will teach front-line leaders:
Finally, on the driver-facing camera issue, we don’t recommend you remove these. They’re too important for re-training, preventing accidents, and reducing liability. Instead, focus on explaining to drivers why you have these cameras.
Explain to drivers that these cameras help prevent accidents and prove their innocence in accidents.
A driver-centric culture is one that makes all decisions with drivers in mind. This doesn’t mean you ignore your other employees, but it does mean you recognize drivers for who they are: the foundation of your company.
Ironically, most companies do the opposite. They ignore drivers’ demands. They create more problems for drivers than they solve. They value all other workers more than their drivers. Then, they scratch their heads and wonder why their drivers are quitting.
Truck drivers are the most important people in the industry, but many carriers treat them like they’re expendable. If they were truly expendable, all these trucking companies wouldn’t be so badly hurt by poor recruiting and retention numbers.
If you want to succeed, you need to find, attract, hire, and retain all-star drivers. Start by fixing the four problems we shared above, and get in touch with us if you need any help.
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