Truck driver retention is a well-documented problem in the trucking industry. Carriers are finding it harder and harder to retain qualified drivers after they’ve joined their fleet. The problem is even worse in the first few months, as that’s when drivers are the most likely to leave. Here are 5 ways that carriers can increase the retention of drivers during the first year.
1. Perform Exit and Stay Interviews
If you’re experiencing a high turnover of new drivers, the most important thing to do is figure out why. And the best people to ask? The drivers who are leaving.
If you’re not already, consider conducting exit interviews. An exit interview is a conversation with a driver who is planning on leaving your carrier. The exit interview is usually done on the driver’s last day or week but can also happen shortly after they leave the company.
Exit interviews are used to understand the reasons that drivers are choosing to work elsewhere. These reasons may be related to compensation, benefits, home time, schedule, equipment, route, type of haul, company culture, leadership, or anything else.
After you’ve conducted a few exit interviews, you can begin to look for patterns and then make an action plan for how to address the situation. But conducting exit interviews is not always possible. A driver may choose not to participate, or they may have ghosted your carrier altogether so you’re not able to arrange one.
That’s why it’s important to conduct stay interviews as well. These are interviews you do with drivers who have been with your carrier for a long time, usually at least a year. These interviews are very similar to exit interviews, but instead of asking “Why are you leaving?”, you’ll be asking drivers what it is about your carrier that makes them want to stay.
Exit and stay interviews are just two ways to collect driver feedback, which is arguably the most important thing that a carrier needs if it’s serious about increasing their truck driver retention.
2. Have a Rewards/Incentive Program
Everybody wants to feel appreciated at their job, and everybody likes to have tangible goals that they can work towards and achieve. This is the guiding principle behind having awards and incentive programs in the workplace.
For new drivers, having a robust awards/incentive program can be a great way to make them feel like a welcomed and important player in your organization, and not just another number.
There are a few different types of rewards and incentive programs that you can implement if you haven’t done so yet. Visit our blogs on the topic for more information.
3. Improve Fleet Amenities
Upgrading the amenities for your fleet of trucks can be a costly venture for organizations. However, carriers should consider that the increased truck driver retention that comes from offering amenities might be worth the initial investment, especially if you have a lot of OTR/Regional drivers.
Fleet amenities are anything that makes your drivers’ lives easier and more comfortable on the road. This can include anything from better seating to premium radio subscriptions and appliances.
If you already have amenities in your trucks, consider taking a poll of your current drivers to see what other amenities they’d most like to see next. In addition to giving them more comfort, you’ll be showing that your carrier is actively listening to their feedback.
4. Give Drivers the Whole Picture Before They Start
Turnover isn’t always a product of a driver simply getting a better pay package somewhere else. Sometimes, drivers leave because they feel they’ve been misled about what the position was before they came onboard.
The vast majority of driver recruiters aren’t actively looking to mislead drivers. The problem comes when a driver recruiter is either misinformed themselves or doesn’t have the whole picture of the job they’re recruiting for.
If you’re ever in doubt about a question a driver asks you, just tell them you can’t answer that right now and get back to them ASAP with the correct answer. That’s a much better alternative than having them come onboard and leave within the first three months because they feel they’ve been misled.
5. Recruit the Right Drivers
Not every driver is a fit for every carrier, and that’s ok. Recruiting isn’t about finding any driver for the position. It’s about finding the right driver for the position.
During the interview process, make sure you’re not just asking questions about qualifications and experience. Ask questions around what the driver is looking for in their next position and let them know what your carrier is looking for, so you can find out if the position is the right fit for both sides.
If you’re interested in learning more about what kinds of questions you should be asking during interviews, you can view our blog on the topic.
Also, consider partnering with a recruiting partner like Drive My Way. Instead of focusing on quantity and how many “leads” you’re getting, we put an emphasis on matching your carrier only with the drivers who have expressed interest in your position. This way, you’re not wasting your time sifting through hundreds of unqualified and disinterested driver candidates that will only add to your turnover numbers.