Driver Retention in Trucking: 5 Strategies Fleet Managers and Owners Should Know About

As an owner or fleet manager, recruiting and retaining good drivers isn’t always the easiest task. You have a responsibility to create a safe and reliable work environment, but actually taking the time to invest in your drivers, their equipment, and their well being is a task many companies don’t prioritize as they should. This leads to high turnover and recruiting costs, something you may be dealing with now.

A report published in 2020 by WorkHound gathered 18,400 comments from over 7,000 drivers over the course of half a year. Drivers complained about issues such as load information and fuel planning, and several drivers were deeply concerned about their equipment.

“We have to keep in mind that for many drivers, their truck is not only their tool to do their job, but also, it’s their residence on the road,” Max Farrell, CEO and co-founder of WorkHound emphasized.

“Drivers are dissatisfied with their trucks. Nearly a third of comments about equipment were about trucks. They remarked on how much they disliked the truck or felt it was uncomfortable or ill-equipped. Only a small minority of drivers’ comments on their truck felt satisfaction and appreciation for it.”

Since it is so vital that fleet managers pay attention to their driver’s concerns, taking steps to make your organization one that drivers are proud to work for requires commitment. To help in this pursuit, here are 5 strategies to improve morale and increase driver retention.

1. Set the Expectation Related to Compliance and Policies

For anyone managing a fleet, it’s important to set clear expectations whenever drivers are hired. An important part of this is reassurance that you will do your part to ensure policies are being communicated and followed to reduce the risk of injury or excessive complications while on the road.

Communicate your compliance requirements

Here at Whip Around, we often hear from fleet managers that some of their drivers don’t perform proper inspections like they should, which poses a big compliance and safety risk. One strategy to remedy this is to have a basic onboarding program, educating drivers and mechanics on what is required to perform a proper inspection and to ensure that these reports are properly completed each day.

This is especially important if you are subject to DOT regulations administered by the FMCSA or other government entities.

While any driver can breeze through a paper inspection form without actually doing a proper walk around, using an app like Whip Around for inspections can prevent this by forcing photos and customizing this workflow in a way that makes sense.

Equipment failures that sideline drivers can often times be prevented when tasks like inspections and maintenance are automated.

Simply put, implementing easy to use technology sends a message that your company is serious about reducing downtime and inefficiencies, something your best employees will appreciate.

Clearly outline your company’s internal policies

Especially when trying to recruit and retain the best possible talent you can, it’s a good idea to take the time to outline your company’s internal policies so employees can reference them at any time. This is a great strategy for communicating not only what is expected of your drivers, but also what to do in certain situations. Here are a couple of common examples:

  • Driving Safety Standards
  • Accident Filing
  • Family Support
  • Sick Leave Policy
  • Annual Review
  • Equipment Maintenance and Inspections

While these are just a few ideas you can create documentation around, providing a simple resource like an employee handbook is a really affordable and practical expense to build a culture of professionalism.

At the end of the day, not only will employees be equipped, but it also may prevent those “I didn’t know” type of responses if and when preventable situations occur.

2. Prioritize Driver Health and Safety Throughout the Organization

Truck safety isn’t the only thing to consider when focusing on the safety of organization. It’s important to also dedicate time and resources to ensure the safety and wellness of your drivers. A national survey indicated that over 70% of long haul truck drivers perceived their delivery schedules as unrealistically tight.

This puts a lot of pressure on drivers to meet those deadlines.

Even with Hours of Service regulations at the federal level in place to somewhat regulate the trucking industry, the health and safety of drivers is still a concern considering driving up to 14 consecutive hours is still permitted.

Fatigue, sleep apnea, loneliness, and depression are all common side effects in this line of work, and shouldn’t be glossed over.

Ideas to promote the health of drivers and your employees

Many organizations have implemented a wide variety of initiatives to incentivize drivers to focus on their health and well being. Here are just a few to be aware of:

  • Free smoking cessation programs
  • Trucking-specific exercise recommendations
  • Map of truck stop gym locations
  • Stretching programs
  • Weight loss incentive programs

3. Offer Incentives Periodically

For long haul drivers, their efforts sometimes can go unnoticed by managers who obviously aren’t able to interact with them on a daily basis. This job is obviously very demanding, and drivers must follow strict rules and regulations while performing a job that requires a lot of them physically and mentally.

As a fleet manager, one strategy for keeping your team motivated is by offering offering incentives and rewards regularly. One idea is to set up a rewards system or offer gifts or contests for good driving. This not only shows your drivers that you notice and appreciate their effort, it also gives them reason to perform better.

Rolando Cruz, Safety Coordinator at Insurance Marketing Agencies had this to say:

“If you have a great staff, invest in them. Invest in them and you’ll keep them happy, and they’ll keep making you money. The small investment you make in them is minute compared to the constant, reoccurring exodus that happens in companies that don’t do it.”

This could be something as simple as a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or retailer, or even providing quality company apparel like branded pullovers or polo shirts. Every little bit helps, and can make a huge impact when it comes to how drivers feel about working for your company.

Sending out a company survey to receive collective feedback is also a great strategy to understanding how your drivers are feel about certain issues, and what you can do to improve as a company.

4. Invest in the Training and Education of Your Employees

Grainger DOT online training

One of the most important ways to keep and retain drivers is obviously to invest in them, but what exactly does that mean? One of the ways to do this is to offer to pay for certifications or online training to help them advance in their career. Something simple like issuing a company laptop may be a good starting point.

There are also several online course related to driver education and training, many which are relatively inexpensive.

CDL and Endorsements

While most of your commercial truck drivers likely already have a Commercial Driver’s License, offering to pay for CDL Training is one way to really stand out as a company, especially if you are promoting drivers internally. While you may have other drivers not required to have a CDL, offering this sort of perk could potentially reduce they amount you pay in ongoing recruiting costs as well as reassure drivers that you care.

Online Training Courses

Another option is to offer free online educational training, depending on what drivers may be interested in. There are numerous online training programs out there spanning a variety of topics, from DOT compliance basics to OSHA and safety courses. Many of these also offer certifications as well which can you can compensate employees for that have proven this type of dedication.

Be sure to check out our post, 5 Online Fleet Management Training Courses and Certifications for Career Advancement to view a complete list of the top online training programs to consider.

5. Make Paperwork or Inefficiency a Thing of the Past

Drivers have enough to worry about without having to keep up with tons of paperwork or ineffective systems. One of the best ways to make their lives easier and less stressful by eliminating the need to hand deliver or hunt for DVIRs or other reports when they are needed. Instead, have it done automatically with Whip Around.

The Whip Around app makes it easier than ever to stay connected with your fleet so you can ensure you remain compliant, efficient, and your drivers are safe.

Staying up to date with what’s going on and making it easy to communicate with drivers is a great way to stay on top of  detected faults, and adds a layer of reassurance for drivers that you have their back.

Contact us today to see how Whip Around can make compliance easier for your trucking company, and outfit your entire fleet with our industry-leading inspections and maintenance app.

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