Recruiting and Retention in Trucking: Tips for Driver Retention

Last week we attended the Recruiting and Retention Conference in Nashville, TN for the trucking industry.  If you are in the trucking industry, you already know about the challenges with driver turnover. Bob Costello, the Chief Economist for the American Trucking Association shared in his presentation that in the third quarter of 2017 average turnover in the industry was at an all time high at 95%!  If this is accurate, this means that if you have 10 people going through orientation this week, you will be lucky to retain 1 driver from that group.  As you can imagine, this is an issue!

There are many factors at play as to why there is an issue with driver turn over.  There were many different perspectives at the conference, ranging from recruiters, to managers and company owners, to the drivers themselves.  We gathered comments and insights and came up with the following major takeaways:

Be Honest Avoid telling drivers only what you think they want to hear just to get them on board. As a carrier, you not only want to fill that seat, but you want that driver to stay.  Tell drivers the good and the bad about the position. They will respect your honesty.

Set realistic expectations.  

One driver discussed how the recruiter told him he could make $1,200 a week. However, he learned after driving for a month at a lower settlement that it would take more about 6-8 weeks to make this. His expectations didn’t match what he thought he was told by the recruiter.

One recruiter discussed how the drivers sometimes need to be on the road for 2 weeks at a time. They are upfront with the drivers because if they do not want to be on the road for 2 weeks, they might not be a good fit for their company.

Create a Sense of Belonging A carrier becomes more like a family.  One driver discussed how he spent more time with his carrier family than his own. He said carriers should try to do things that make them feel like they belong and are part of the company. One recruiter discussed how when drivers are on rest breaks at the terminals, a recruiter will take them bowling or out to dinner, for example.

Give Drivers a VoiceDrivers want to be heard

One driver discussed how he wanted to provide input. Some carriers do this from anonymous surveys and/or anonymous input collected through trainings.

One recruiter discussed an open door policy with the safety directors where drivers can feel free they can stop in and tell them how it is going.

Job Match Don’t assume all jobs are right for all drivers.

Different people have different values. What might be an expectation or valued by a baby boomer might not be the same for a millennial. In the same way, what a women driver may value and want to tackle, might not be the same as a male driver. Ask drivers and get their input and always be honest in the expectations for the job at hand.

We believe at Luma these are tips that can be applied to any industry.  We gather unsolicited input from our drivers to get input on their learning preferences and what they think of the training.  We want all and any input.

This allows us to make modifications as needed for drivers and to match the type of content we provide to their learning preferences.   We have found that 20% of drivers leave us unsolicited feedback, which also supports that drivers want to be heard.

Overall, it was great to hear from the different perspectives. All co-workers are human and value a sense of being in the “right place” both professionally and personally.  We are, after all, human, and drivers are no exception. We look forward to serving the driving industry for years to come. 

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