Companies across the trucking industry are struggling to find and retain good quality drivers. The American Trucking Association estimates that there is a current shortage of more than 80,000 drivers. With all types of drivers in high demand, employees are incentivized to change companies for higher pay, more benefits, or better company culture. Companies must work diligently if they want to reduce turnover and maintain a strong pool of drivers.
Unfortunately, many organizations have misplaced their focus thinking that employee retention boils down to just pay. While pay can be a significant factor, especially in a competitive job market with rising inflation, there are other things companies can do to keep their drivers coming back to work every day. Here are 7 practical approaches (aside from pay raises) to help you boost employee retention at your company.
Employee retention begins with understanding what factors are important to employees and what motivates them to stay with your company. The best way to gather this information is through an employee satisfaction survey.
- Confidentiality – Employee satisfaction surveys elicit the most honest feedback when employees are able to do so anonymously. Many companies protect the identity of employees by hiring a third party to administer the survey and compile the results.
- Short Surveys with Simple Questions – You’re most likely to get participation from employees if the survey only takes a short amount of time to complete. Surveys should last no longer than 10 minutes. Also, try to keep questions as simple as possible. Complex questions may confuse employees and impact the final results.
- Avoid Open-Ended Questions – Open-ended questions make the data difficult to quantify into usable results. Instead, create questions that let employees rank their satisfaction from “highly dissatisfied” to “highly satisfied” (or on a scale from 1 to 10). While you want to avoid most open-ended questions, you should still leave at least one comment box at the end for additional feedback or suggestions.
The information you gather during the survey can help your company identify issues that are hurting driver retention and allow you to create action plans to address those concerns. The most important thing is that you act on the feedback you receive. Employees need to know that their opinions and feelings matter and that you take them seriously. As you take action, be sure to have open communication about policy changes that are a direct result of the feedback on the employee satisfaction surveys.
Employee retention starts from the moment you recruit and hire employees. One of the most effective ways to enhance employee retention is to let them participate in the recruitment process. People naturally want to work with others who they enjoy spending a majority of their time with during the week and share their same values. Since coworkers can play a vital role in overall employee happiness, letting them “pick” or recommend people for open positions can help them feel like they have a say in who gets hired.
Existing employees will be less likely to leave a company when they’ve personally helped build the team around them. Also, employees who were referred by others at the company will be less likely to jump ship quickly.
Aside from pay, there are lots of other options that companies have to incentivize employees to stay with their company long-term. To boost retention, these incentives can be tied to specific milestones or anniversaries. For example, most companies provide longer vacation time for employees who have been with the company the longest. Other incentives could include higher 401k matches, flexible work schedules, or special gear for their trucks.
Your drivers may appreciate your company making an effort to participate in their growth and development by providing training or advancement opportunities. The key here is to avoid focusing too much on the driver’s current position. Instead, work with them to find out what career goals they have and provide them with training to develop the skills they need to get a promotion or take on a new challenge.
- Higher Education – Companies can offer drivers reimbursement or tuition assistance to pursue higher education.
- Mentorship Programs – Drivers who aspire to reach management positions can develop their skills through a mentorship program where they are paired with company leaders.
There are a lot of safety risks in being a truck driver including accidents, strains, repetitive injuries, slips and falls, and other health issues from sitting behind the wheel. Employees want to know that their employer cares about their health and safety.
- Rewards and Recognition – Create ways to reward and recognize drivers who embrace the company’s safety culture and have a strong safety record. Rewards can be monetary (bonuses, gift cards, etc.) or sentimental (thank you notes from company leaders, etc.)
- Ergonomics – Hire an ergonomic specialist to come in and evaluate each driver’s vehicle to ensure they are set up properly.
- Safety Competition – Allow internal groups to compete against each other for the best safety record. This encourages both team building and promotes safety.
- Don’t Restrict Yourself to Physical Health – Employees also experience challenges with mental and emotional well-being that can impact their health. Companies can combat this by offering tools such as an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) that provides access to mental health professionals for little to no cost. You can also re-evaluate your policy around mental health days.
Drivers don’t want to work with old, outdated vehicles and equipment. Replacing aging vehicles is a great place to start, but this can be expensive. Fortunately, there are other ways to provide inexpensive technology.
Think about ways that you can provide newer technology to existing vehicles such as front-facing cameras or electronic logging devices. These tools will help make their job easier and increase their satisfaction knowing the company cares about giving them the tools they need. Even simple changes such as improving the vehicle maintenance program can reduce the amount of time your drivers spend waiting for roadside assistance.
Employees want to work for companies that have strong leadership teams that are transparent and supportive of their teams. Without strong leadership and management in place, employee retention becomes very difficult.
- Leadership Changes and Training – If bad leadership is identified, you can correct this by replacing these ineffective leaders or providing them with additional training.
- Constant Communication – Employees often feel left in the dark when it comes to company policies or strategies. Drivers want to know what is happening within the company and understand the role they play in the company’s success.
- Encourage More Manager Interactions – Since drivers spend most of their time on the road, they don’t often get time to chat one-on-one with their manager. Encourage your managers to allow time for these important conversations to check in and see how the employee is doing. This will help foster stronger relationships and employee loyalty.
The experts at Inflection Poynt are here to support you in keeping your driver workforce strong. Our recruitment team brings years of experience in recruiting and retaining some of the best talent in the trucking industry. Contact us today to see how we can make a difference for your organization.