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recruit for retention
Many companies, either intentionally or inadvertently, incentivize driver recruiters to prioritize hires above all else. In some cases, this is an effective short-term solution but often, it does not hold companies in good stead in the long run. Instead, recruit for retention. Lowering driver turnover can dramatically save recruiting costs because there are fewer drivers to replace. Strong driver retention also improves company culture and driver satisfaction. While they may occupy different line items on the budget, recruitment and retention are points along the same spectrum. In your fleet, take concrete steps to incentivize driver recruiters to recruit for retention.

Analyze Your Current Structure

truck driver recruiter

The first step to incentivizing driver recruiters to recruit for retention is to assess your existing program. Frequently, recruiters are incentivized for fast hires. Bonuses based on achieving a set number of hires in a specific time frame or rewards based purely on hiring numbers are just that. When recruiters are put under extremely tight deadlines, this exacerbates the problem. Recruiters are likely getting lots of drivers through the door, but that does not necessarily mean those drivers are highly qualified or likely to stay. 

In addition to analyzing the incentivization structure for recruiters, take time to observe several recruiting conversations. How are recruiters connecting with potential candidates? What questions are they asking drivers? Are they taking the time to understand what these drivers are looking for in a job? The personal touch of a driver recruiter can make a big difference in first impressions. Recruiting for retention may require retraining driver recruiters to approach conversations with candidates as relationship-building opportunities.

Change the Reward Target

Once you have a clear view of your existing recruitment incentivization structure, decide whether you are effectively prioritizing retention. If not, determine the necessary changes to make retention the goal. 

One of the most common ways to incentivize recruiters is through a rewards system. Rather than rewarding recruiters for hires, consider distributing rewards only for new drivers who stay at least 30 days. If you feel a longer time period is necessary, try 60 or 90 days. Drivers often leave because of unmet expectations. So, encouraging recruiters to prioritize retention necessitates that they vet drivers carefully and clearly communicate job expectations to reduce quick turnover.

Drivers often leave because of unmet expectations. Encourage recruiters to be candid and transparent to better recruit for retention.

To ensure follow-through from recruiters, consider asking for notes about each driver’s future plans. This requires recruiters to ask each driver about their long-term priorities as well as the immediate qualifications needed for the job. Remember, even though many companies incentivize recruiters with financial rewards, there are other options. Vacation time as well as internal or external recognition are also significant motivators for many recruiters!

Train Recruiters From the Start

trucking recruiter on phoneFrom the moment of onboarding, driver recruiters should be trained to look at recruiting as a long game. Explicitly tell recruiters that the company’s mission is to minimize turnover and maximize retention of quality drivers. Train everyone who works closely with drivers to recruit through conversations to foster strong relationships. This may be a change from previous jobs that focused exclusively on hires, so it’s important to continuously reinforce recruitment for retention in both words and actions. 

After you make any necessary changes to the incentivization structure and train drivers to recruit through conversations, you are ready to revamp your recruiting – almost! As you restructure incentives, make sure you are setting recruiters up for success. Even the best recruiters cannot boost driver retention for poor jobs.

Drivers want jobs that meet their financial and home time needs, are a good fit for their skills, and have a company culture of respect. Without these components, recruiters are fighting a losing battle. To incentivize driver recruiters for retention, change the reward targets, train recruiters to have conversations, and make compelling job offers. 

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 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 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 whether 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. Therefore, investing in newer model trucks and quickly resolving maintenance issues shows drivers that you care about safety. Consider also investing in trucks with larger cabins with fleet amenities. Drivers appreciate kitchen appliances and satellite radio/TV that allow for more options during down time.

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 will 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. For example, some companies are 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 others 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 that 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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driver referral program

To hire the best truck drivers, recruiters need to constantly create a good impression of their carriers. However, there’s only so much you can do as a recruiter to control your brand and reputation. Unfortunately, many advertisements lie, and drivers have good reason not to believe everything that a carrier says about itself. That’s why they’re more likely to listen to other drivers instead. People are more likely to listen to those they trust, and they’re more likely to trust those who are similar to them. The power of peers is so great that people are 4 times more likely to buy a product when referred by a friend. You can harness this power in the trucking industry as well. A potential driver for your fleet is more likely to trust a fellow driver than what you have to say about your fleet.

This is the idea behind creating a driver referral program. Since your reputation as a carrier is going to spread anyway, you may as well use that to your advantage to attract the best candidates.

Research shows that “word of mouth” plays a huge factor for drivers looking for trucking jobs.

According to the 2019 Overdrive Connectivity Report, 26% of company drivers use word of mouth when looking for driving jobs, second only to Internet searches. Meanwhile, it’s the strongest factor for owner-operators, who look to it 39% of the time. A driver referral program will help you harness the power of word-of-mouth and use your company reputation to bring the strongest drivers to your fleet. Here are 3 tips to create a strong referral program.

1. Build advocates

As we mentioned, drivers are already speaking to each other about your carrier. Your company already has a reputation, and you can’t override it by a referral program. Either your drivers believe you have a strong company and culture that values them, or they don’t. You can’t magically change their opinion by using incentives, but you can encourage them to share their opinions with other drivers.

Offering incentives nudges your drivers to make referrals they already believe in.

It just adds the extra benefit that it won’t slip their mind between a busy job and personal life. If drivers already believe in the strength of your company, you’re really building them as advocates for your company, and not simply as referrals.

2. Structure incentives

Many companies use incentives to nudge drivers into making referrals. Most of these incentives are monetary rewards, although they don’t have to be. As we learned in high school economics class, incentives matter.

You have to make sure you’re offering the right incentives, and that they are influencing behavior in ways you want them to.

If you’re offering a vinyl record player as an incentive and all your drivers use MP3 files for their music, you aren’t going to get any referrals even if everyone loves your company! Make the referral worth it for your drivers. If you’re offering a monetary reward, there are different ways to distribute it. For example, a $500 referral bonus can be spaced out- $250 when the referred driver gets their first run completed and another $250 when they’ve been with the company for 60 days. Often the incentive doesn’t begin until the new driver has already joined the fleet. Driver benefits like extra paid vacation time are other referral rewards which many drivers will covet. Find the right incentive structure and distribution mechanism that works for your company!

3. Build Your Budget

It’s easy to think of referral programs as a waste of money if you haven’t used them before or measured their impact. Try to think of driver referrals as an investment into your recruiting budget. The hire you make from a referral program will help you gain back the amount you spent on the incentive or reward. In fact, you can measure the impact of your referral program and calculate the return on investment. If you’re doing it well then you make a significant number of hires which more than account for the budget spent on the referral program. Consider these budgetary issues when structuring your referral program.

If your program is losing more money than gaining, you need to seriously re-think your entire driver referral program.

Which incentives aren’t working? Should the monetary reward be greater? Maybe the rewards need to be spread out more or be delivered only after you’ve converted leads to hires. Don’t forget to account for the hundreds of dollars being wasted on trucks sitting idle in your lot. Investing in a driver referral program might a way to end that loss of value.

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