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simplifying truck driver pay

Truck driver pay is one of the biggest factors which candidates consider before accepting a trucking job. Carriers are aware of this, and recruiters scramble to offer the best salary they can to their drivers. But the driver pay numbers aren’t the only important thing to consider. Driver compensation rates have actually increased over the last few years. Yet, carriers struggle to retain drivers over the long haul. The truth is, how you pay truck drivers is just as important as how much you pay them. If your truck driver pay process is messy, complicated, and not transparent, drivers will find it difficult to work with you. Here are 3 tips on simplifying truck driver pay.

Tip 1: Clean and simple

How difficult is it for the average driver to understand your pay rates? Does it require a five-minute explanation with a calculator? If so, you’re making the pay structure too complicated. While there are many factors which determine driver pay, if the process becomes too messy drivers won’t want to deal with it. Similarly, how difficult is it for drivers to actually get that paycheck? Filling out complicated and unnecessary forms is a burden for drivers, who have limited free time as it is. Remember that most salaried employees simply receive a direct deposit in their bank account every 2 weeks or so. Recruiters and managers should aim to make the pay process as simple as that, if possible.

As Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Equally troubling is the hassle of delayed payments. If there are delays in paychecks because of clerical or logistical error, the inconvenience shouldn’t be passed along to the driver. For them, the few days could make the difference between paid and unpaid bills or purchase of time-sensitive medicine. Do whatever you can to make delayed payments less likely. Updating your pay systems reduce the chances of human error and make it more likely that payments will be made on time. You don’t want drivers to consider leaving your fleet because every pay period remains uncertain, or they can’t decipher their pay stub.

Tip 2: Load board transparency

Drivers get paid based on how many loads they get assigned or agree to take on. Sometimes dispatchers or fleet managers will think that drivers will be happier with their pay if they just took on more loads. Simple, right? While that may be true, think about it from the driver’s perspective for a minute. Often truck drivers may think that other drivers are receiving more or better loads because of favoritism. When was the last time you spoke to a driver who was happy with the loads they receive? There is such a gap between manager perspective and driver perspective on this issue that the only way to bridge it is more transparency.

When it comes to favoritism, perception is more important than reality.

Try to create a system where drivers are fully aware of who has received which loads and when. This helps both drivers and managers. Any unconscious favoritism or bias will be filtered out and less likely to occur. Drivers will also be less likely to perceive favoritism, as you’ve taken steps to counter this. Think of how scientists create double blind studies, or some professors use proctors to grade their exams. Students know that bias is less likely to creep in, so they trust the system more. Similarly, if you create a transparent process on load assignment, you will create perceived equity and fairness in truck driver pay. Drivers are liable to quit because of perceived bias, even if it doesn’t actually exist!

Tip 3: Uncontrollable factors

Truck drivers make money when they’re being productive driving or loading and unloading freight. However, there are many other things that happen during a driver’s work-day that may affect their productivity or their paycheck. Unnecessary idle time, traffic delays, adverse weather conditions, and human error all reduce truck driver pay. Everyone in the industry knows that these things happen and are usually an unavoidable part of the job. Most of these factors are also out of a driver’s control. Yet, the driver loses time, and possibly pay, because of weather and traffic and that isn’t going to look great to them!

While weather, traffic, and other variables may be out of your control also, they shouldn’t be reflected in driver pay

We know that every carrier’s finances are different, and some can afford more luxuries for their drivers than others. If possible, do whatever you can to not pass the cost of these factors to drivers. It will seriously make driver reconsider their employment. Maybe charge for clients for the unnecessary delays and pass it on to your drivers. A promise of guaranteed payments will ensure that drivers don’t have anxiety over delays. Many carriers provide minimum weekly pay guarantees which remove the stress of worrying about delays that could reduce the paycheck. Don’t worry about free-loaders to the system: there are enough tracking devices and performance measure to ensure that drivers won’t milk the system. Investing in these methods will pay for themselves by reducing turnover.

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7 Reasons Drivers Decline Your Jobs

Unlock the top reasons why truck drivers decline your CDL jobs by downloading our free ebook. The book shares insight to what drivers really want.

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truck driver satisfaction

Recruiters know that truck driver satisfaction is essential to ensuring long-term retention. Sometimes we naively believe that good pay, benefits, and home time are the only ingredients that go into the perfect satisfaction recipe. A 2017 study by TruckersReport.com, along with software firm OdinText, showed that this isn’t the case at all! The study used text analysis to evaluate comments on TruckersReport.com discussion boards. For veteran drivers, pay grade came in fifth among factors that influence job satisfaction. For both veterans and novices, one of the leading factors was if the company culture is ‘family-oriented”. While great pay and benefits are necessary for drivers to be satisfied with their carriers, it’s obvious that they aren’t enough. Here are 6 ideas to improve driver satisfaction and retention.

1. Equipment

Drivers don’t want to deal with shoddy equipment and recurring maintenance issues. Good equipment is one of the most cited factors that influence driver satisfaction with their carriers. Investing in newer model trucks and quickly resolving maintenance issues will signal to drivers that your carrier employs professionals who care about safety and image. Consider also investing in trucks with larger cabins with fleet amenities, such as kitchen appliances and satellite radio/TV to allow for more options during down time for drivers.

2. Ride along programs

Truck driving can be a lonely profession and hobbies can go only so far in combating boredom. OTR drivers have it particularly rough as they often go several days or even weeks without seeing their loved ones.

Including a passenger or pet ride along program shows your drivers that you care about their personal lives and happiness.

A pet policy lets drivers bring their canine or feline companions on the road with them. Spouse ride along policies gives drivers the flexibility to spend more time with their significant other without losing time away from the job. Driver satisfaction is guaranteed to improve if drivers get to spend more time with who they care about.

3. Health incentive programs

Truck driving has the reputation of being one of America’s “unhealthiest professions”. While drivers may not fault their carriers for the inherent risks of the job, they appreciate any efforts carriers make to minimize those risks. Many companies have been engaging in incentive programs to help drivers meet their health goals. These could be as simple as providing healthy sack lunches or break rooms with healthy options. On the other hand, they can be as ambitious as onsite fitness centers, discounted gym memberships, or wellness days with physicals and health assessments. There’s no doubt about it—overall driver satisfaction with the career and the job increases when drivers are healthier, so there’s no downside to prioritizing health.

4. Safety

Truck drivers know that the job comes with inherent risks of crashes and other dangers on the road. When carriers prioritize safety as a top concern within the organization, drivers take note and it will have an impact on their satisfaction.

Carriers can take many steps to address safety in their procedures and policies.

In addition to what the law requires, carriers can institute their own regulations for time behind the wheel, rest time, maximum speeds, and the rest. Make sure that equipment is well maintained and showcase to drivers that the company values their safety. Consider providing drivers with free hands-free devices for use where permitted, or a hassle-free streamlines maintenance request procedure.

5. Professional development

Trucking isn’t just a job for drivers, but a career path along which the current job may just be a stop on the road. The sooner recruiters realize that drivers have career ambitions and won’t stay in the current driving job forever, the sooner they can help facilitate process within their own carriers. Perhaps some drivers are looking for additional endorsements and certifications to make specialized runs. Carriers can help provide training for these and groom drivers toward those jobs with the same company. Other drivers may be looking to switch regions, or runs. Still other may eventually hope to become owner-operators, or retire and become trainers. All these jobs could be provided through your carrier. Drivers value loyalty so if your carrier invests in their professional development, they will reciprocate by sticking with the same company and being even more satisfied with the company.

6. The “little” things

The results of the study suggest that one of the biggest factors impacting driver satisfaction is the company’s culture. Drivers often look for carriers which are family-oriented.

What this really means is that family and loyalty are things drivers value. They are looking for carriers whose values align with their own.

If carriers value family, then your carrier will naturally offer benefits like strong home time, a pet policy, paid time off, or college scholarship funds for family members. Similarly, drivers want to be respected and treated like professionals. When recruiters, dispatchers, and fleet managers treat drivers like people and not simply leads, driver satisfaction will soar through the roof.

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Top 7 Reasons Drivers Decline Jobs

Unlock the top reasons why truck drivers decline your CDL jobs by downloading our free ebook. The book shares insight to what drivers really want.

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truck driver mentor programThe search for hiring truck drivers is highly competitive. Keeping good drivers once you have them is sometimes tougher than actually hiring drivers. A truck driver mentor program might be just the thing to differentiate your company from the competition. These programs can also help you keep good drivers once you land them. Mentoring programs might also be the thing to help hire drivers that diversify your workforce. And keep them with your company. Here are some ways to improve retention with a truck driver mentor program.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring programs generally mean linking up a newer employee with a seasoned company driver in some fashion. These programs help new truckers learn the ropes and acclimate to their job and your overall organization. Helping these mentor relationships get off on the right foot is key to the success of the truck driver mentor programs. For some carriers, mentoring can also be a great way to bring more female, millennial or minority truckers into their company.

“Inadequate diversity and thin leadership pipeline are the third and fourth top human capital risks cited in Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends Study. When it comes to attracting and retaining women drivers, it’s critical to foster a culture that supports, embraces, and advances women. Having a strong mentoring program helps to engage and advance women in the organization.”

—Beth Potratz, President and CEO, Drive My Way

Why is a Truck Driver Mentoring Program a Good Idea?

Some carriers have truck driver mentor programs that help new drivers assimilate into their new companies and careers. These programs might also reward the seasoned drivers with additional compensation and even better equipment as a bonus. The mentoring can include driving with a mentor as a passenger to help learn. It could also be a relationship where a new driver has a easy access to a mentor driver to ask questions. Drivers might also be enabled with tools to even Skype (or video-communicate) on-demand with mentors when needed. Having someone who can help in times where a handbook or a “boss” might not be the best resource, can help maximize new driver satisfaction. And help them feel a bigger sense of belonging to their new company. These mentor relationships can often times help the younger or new driver envision their long-term career with your company.

Your company should already be engaging in initiatives that make the work more meaningful for employees, so highlight those to your millennial candidates. Initiatives like professional development opportunities, mentoring programs and employee appreciation events will foster a sense of belonging.

Having a well thought out recruitment and retention strategy that puts the drivers first is a great strategy for building a strong driver team. A truck driver mentor program can show your new, and current, drivers that you are willing to invest in them and that they are appreciated. Making a mentor program a key part of your planning, can help strengthen your team, and retain your drivers.

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Care About Your DriversAs the saying goes, people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. Managers usually set the tone for an employee’s overall work environment and are the front line for employees feeling appreciated. For truck drivers who are mobile most of the time, they have plenty of other things that can impact their day. So, there’s a good chance truckers can feel a lack of appreciation from many angles. You can’t control all of them, but you can help in a few key ways. Here are 5 ways to demonstrate that you care about your drivers.

Getting drivers to feel a sense of appreciation and engagement is a proven way to increase job satisfaction and ultimately driver retention.

Showing appreciation for your drivers should be part of your company’s overall culture. Though grand gestures of appreciation and thanks are usually well received, it’s the smaller things that make life easier on a daily basis that can make the most difference.

1. Equipment

Be proactive on equipment maintenance and upgrades. Keep up with equipment services and routine maintenance. Be responsive to your drivers’ feedback and concerns with their trucks and tools.  This shows that you care about your drivers safety and comfort. Your drivers will have less breakdowns and related delays as a result. This can help your truckers stay on schedule, and have less less wasted time and aggravation. And you can help minimize lost revenue for your bottom line.

2. Scheduling     

Being mindful of your drivers’ time is a great way to show your appreciation for truckers. Helping to avoid snags in scheduling can avoid adding unnecessary stress to an already stressful job. And can make sure that they’re home as planned for their down days. Drivers do their part daily to make sure that hours of service and breaks are properly logged. Your internal teams should also do their best to do what they can to keep your truckers moving and avoid detention time. When something out of everyone’s control does come up, have plans in place to compensate the driver for ALL of their time.

3. Implement Incentives

Incentive programs are a great way to keep your drivers feel appreciated and rewarded for their hard work. And can also help you to keep your teams moving toward reaching your goals.

Listen to your drivers’ needs. Work to understand what encourages them. Then you can find a relevant set of driver incentive programs to put into place.

4. Ongoing Education Opportunities

Giving your truckers access to ongoing education can be a great way to show you care. Helping drivers stay current with the latest in safety, industry and professional news, can help increase engagement, and retention. This can also help ensure that your drivers are the best in class when it comes to training and compliance.

5. Simply Say Thank You

Handwritten notes are rare these days. A thoughtful handwritten note for a job well done, or to show that you noticed that they went the extra mile on a job, can mean more than a free lunch or a bonus in their paycheck. Social media can also be a great place to call out your “Driver of the Month” or a place to highlight significant milestones for your truckers. Simple gestures can oftentimes be more meaningful ways to show you care about your drivers. These can also leave a longer lasting sense of appreciation.

Though it’s always important to show you care about your drivers, next year’s Truck Driver Appreciation Week is September 13-19, 2020. Set a reminder for this dedicated week when America takes the time to honor the 3.5 million professional truck drivers for doing one of the most demanding and important jobs! Keep a running list of ideas to make your drivers feel extra appreciated next year. A great idea would be to poll your drivers in advance and ask them for ideas how to celebrate this special week for the entire trucking industry!

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

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When putting together your driver incentive programs package, there’s a few things to keep in mind. Think about what is a perceived benefit to your drivers, and whether it will also help you attain your overall company goals. Striking a good balance between the two is where the best incentive programs will be created.  Regardless if you’re putting your first incentive program in place, or looking to tweak your current offerings, we can help. Here are the key ideas you need to evaluate for your truck driver incentive programs.

What Are the Best Types of Incentives?

You should have a handle on what motivates your team of drivers. Listen to your drivers’ needs. Work to understand what encourages them. Then you can find a relevant set of driver incentive programs to put into place.

Are you falling short with on-time deliveries? Are your fuel efficiency metrics not being met? Is turnover too high? These are great places to start designing incentives to encourage change.

  • Additional Compensation: This is usually the go-to for any driver incentive program. Reward your drivers with cash if they achieve a stated goal within a certain time frame. That can be either a raise in their hourly rate, or an additional check that goes on-top of their normal take home pay. Cash rewards are fairly standard. And you can use them at any time. Even as part of their hiring process, to encourage them to stay with the company.
  • Recognition Rewards: Giving drivers something other than a financial incentive can sometimes be greater influence on positive behavior. A certificate, their name on a plaque somewhere prominent, or even a mention in a company newsletter to acknowledge their accomplishment could be more impactful than money could ever be. This type of reward is something that they’ll have forever, and the memory and sense of appreciation might last far longer than the bonus ever would.
  • Catalog Programs: Some companies choose to have achieving small milestones accumulate points over time. Then they can redeem those point for items in a catalog. These types of programs can help change behavior consistently over time. Your drivers might be working towards a new gadget that they’d love to have. Or even better, something that they know that their spouse would really love as a gift!

Cons of Incentives

Your truck driver incentive programs should work in conjunction with your overall goals, not in competition. When putting incentives in place you should take the time to ensure that you’re only going to encourage best practices, not accidentally promote conflict.

  • Unhealthy competition: As mentioned before, you want to be sure you strike the right balance with your driver incentive programs. Don’t create an environment where drivers are pushed to be cutthroat with each other. The last thing you’d want to do is fix one problem, and inadvertently create an unhealthy workplace where your drivers don’t act as a team.
  • Cutting corners: If the incentives are perceived as extremely worthwhile, or that drivers are in a race to achieve the goals first, it might lead to drivers taking shortcuts in their daily driving. This is something that should be clearly discouraged when you implement your driver incentive programs. Goals should never be encouraged to be met at the cost of safety or compliance.
  • Disengagement: Fairness is very important when establishing any type of new reward programs. If a driver immediately thinks “I could NEVER achieve that goal”, they might tune out and become disengaged. This would be a terrible outcome of a driver incentive program. Not only would it not help with the goals you’re trying to help achieve, you might lose an otherwise happy driver.

Incentive Programs Implementation

You want to foster an environment of fairness, so that working towards the incentives don’t unintentionally create new problems. When you put these truck driver incentive programs in place, fairness is a key measure of success.

  • Measure consistently: You should be able to easily measure any progress toward driver goals objectively. Be sure that the rules in place for your programs are clear as to how results are tallied, and by when. At the end of the time frame for achieving them has passed, everyone should be able to see where they landed in relation to the goals.
  • Be fair: Fairness should be built into any employee program. This might require a tiered or scaled approach depending on the variety of the runs and types of drivers you have. There’s always a way to be different and still keep things fair. This is the best way to avoid disengagement with your programs. It also ensures that each driver feels a sense of belonging to the overall company goals.

Truck driver incentive programs should help drivers feel recognized and companies meet their goals. Companies should put plans in place that reward positive work practices, and make your drivers feel acknowledged. This fosters a sense of satisfaction that can lead to better driver retention. The types of incentives you can implement are varied and can take some time to get them just right for your teams. When you’re ready to put an incentive program in place, be sure that the rules are fair and the objectives are clear.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

Get the Ebook

truck driver career path

Truckers looking into a new job almost always have a lot of questions about the carriers they’re considering. They want to know what things look like in a month, in a year, in 5 years or even in 20 years. Being able to provide that information to a prospective new employee up-front could give you the edge in getting that driver hired today! So with the driver shortage and the hiring process as it is today, what is the Importance of a truck driver career path for your drivers?

Training to Hire

With all of the talk about the driver shortage, there’s much renewed interest in driving a truck for a living. For those completely new to the industry, the first thing they need to do is get training to get their CDL license.

Whether you offer your own training program, or partner with a local truck driver training school, be sure to let all potential drivers know that you’ve got a job for you once you graduate.

Be clear about what you expect and what they can expect. That can take a lot of stress off a trainee knowing that if they work hard and get through the training program, their next steps are already mapped out.

Driving for Life

Incentivize longevity. This can be through anniversary certificates or awards. Or even financial incentives that pay out after certain milestones are met.  You can also provide opportunities for continuous education to keep skills sharp. And training to ensure that your drivers are always up-to-date with current technology and regulations.

Be overt about the amount of possible driving options you have for your drivers. Different phases of their lives could change their preferences about time at home vs. time away.

Equipment preferences can change. Or even how much money they need to make at various stages in their lived. Knowing that you’ve got them covered at all steps, is an advantage to help you retain drivers. And this helps drivers feel confident in their role as a driver for your company.

Non-Driving Roles

Sometimes drivers have a need to pull in off the road for good. For whatever reason. But when they’re a good employee and not yet ready for retirement, what kind of truck driver career path might be mapped out in those situations. Often times good drivers can become the best instructors. Or even move into a role in the dispatch office or operations management.

Letting a driver know that these options are available to them along the way might make those transitions from the road to the office smoother when the time comes.

Paint the picture early for your drivers that you have a truck driver career path formulated for them at every stage of their lives. And advertise this on your website and other recruitment materials. For those new to the industry, be clear about your training programs and what comes next. Once they’re ready to hit the road on their own, give great options that fit their lifestyle at each phase. If they grow weary on the road, or can no longer drive, communicate other options for them outside of the 18 wheels. Doing this can instill an additional sense of loyalty to you from your drivers and help you to retain the best drivers.

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Start Recruiting for Retention

Drive My Way matches drivers with companies based on professional qualifications and lifestyle choices.

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