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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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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smoking cessation

Smoking cessation programs are a great benefit to anyone looking to quit smoking. CDC statistics show that anywhere from 30%-50% of all truck drivers smoke cigarettes daily. Add this heath risk to an already stressful and sedentary occupation, truck drivers can be extremely prone to a plethora of adverse health conditions or diseases.

According to the American Lung Association: Smoking-related illness in the U.S. costs more than $300 billion a year, including over $175 billion in direct medical care for adults and $156 billion in lost productivity.

Employers can save nearly $6,000 per year for every employee who quits smoking.

Knowing this, what can you do to help your drivers kick the smoking habit for good? What kind of smoking cessation programs and incentives could work most effectively for your drivers?

Every driver has a unique personality. And their individual preferences and behaviors will certainly vary. So when putting together smoking cessation programs for your company, know that a one-size-fits-all approach might not work best. Providing options here might be a great idea. After all, you want to ensure the highest success rates possible. This will lead to healthier drivers and a healthier bottom line at the end of the year.

Change the Habit

Quitting smoking is undoubtedly very difficult. Otherwise, it would be easy for smokers to just decide to quit and stick with it. Breaking the habit by changing behaviors is a great place to start.

Offer small incentives for truckers who take steps to quit. Offer your drivers access to apps or web tools that help them stick with it once they decide to stop smoking.

There are a number of free programs available online that might help. Offers are available for coaching, hotlines, webinars and guides. All of these tools can add to the success of your company’s smoking cessation goals.

Smokeless Options

Many former smokers have found success quitting using any number of smokeless options. Though these still deliver nicotine to the body, the harmful byproducts of cigarettes are eliminated while the smoker gradually cuts back until they’ve officially quit.

Giving your truckers samples or discounts/coupons to the various patches, gums or e-cigarette options available can be a great help to someone seeking to stop smoking.

Some of these manufacturers have free programs via their websites, and offer coupons that you could provide to your employees.

Medication

There are several medications available that can aid a smoker who’s trying to break the habit. Some products are available over the counter at most drug stores. And there are many different types of prescription drugs available that can help. Making sure that these options are included in your company’s medical benefits package is a great way to encourage successful smoking cessation programs.

Giving your truckers access or discounts to these medications via their health insurance or HSA/HRA programs can lessen the expense for your drivers.

Giving your truckers access to a variety of smoking cessation tools and programs will ensure that you’re doing all you can to help your drivers lead healthier, longer lives. Helping them change their habits, and providing help with substitutes and medications can pay for themselves with cost savings at the end of the year. If you’re looking for additional tools to help your drivers lead healthier lives, download our ebook.

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CDL truck drivers have many things to consider when taking on a new trucking job. Routes, benefits, work-life balance, and certainly driver pay are key factors. And pay is usually at the top of that list. From Indeed.com:

The average CDL driver salary is $1,074 per week in the United States.

This is based on over 1.6 million self-reported salaries, for a driver with just under 1 year of tenure. Using this as a gauge for the average CDL driver salary: how do you stack up?

This average is derived from a range of salaries, from $200 per week at the low end, to almost $3,000 per week on the high end. It also includes rates reported from both owner-operators as well as company drivers. Likewise, salaries for drivers who have additional endorsements on their license are included as well. So it’s easy to see that here’s quite a range from the low to high end of the scale.

It’s worth noting that a CDL driver salary alone does not account for total compensation.

Total compensation includes salary PLUS things like medical benefits, bonuses, paid time off and 401K / retirement programs. All of these things should be looked at when considering a new trucking job. Truckers could get lured by big signing bonuses upfront, but over time, those become less important vs. pay rates and longer-term benefits. Total compensation is the more meaningful number to understand when working through financial planning.

Our Approach

In an effort to be competitive, many of carriers who partner with Drive My Way access driver wage data through The National Transportation Institute (NTI) to evaluate and update their compensation packages based on today’s market. Drive My Way offers consulting for how your organization and jobs are performing based on driver interest and decline feedback. In addition, we often refer those that are struggling to compete in particular markets to NTI for a competitive market data analysis of their pay and benefits offerings.

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It is no surprise that America has been struggling with a truck driver shortage over the past few years. Now more than ever, companies need to reevaluate their recruiting and retention strategies for finding and keeping qualified drivers that meet the needs of their jobs.

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