In recent years, driver retention in trucking has faced unprecedented challenges. In addition to supply chain disruptions and increasing fuel costs, the industry is experiencing a shortage of qualified drivers. This begs the question: “How do you attract and retain drivers while facing a driver shortage?” The American Trucking Association estimates that there is a current shortage of more than 80,000 drivers. This is expected to get worse over the next decade.
In our driver retention survey, the industry leaders at Inflection Poynt decided to dig deeper into the underlying factors affecting the industry’s ability to find good, quality drivers. We surveyed 5,000 waste collection driver applicants to discover their sentiments and experiences with the three main phases of employment — finding talent, the hiring process, and employee retention. The final results led to some interesting perspectives.
Phase 1: Finding High-Quality Truck Drivers
Through our research, we’ve found that the traditional methods for finding talent are largely ineffective. First, it’s important to understand that there are three main types of candidates — unemployed, employed but looking, and employed. Reaching each type of candidate requires a different approach. Also, the traditional methods are outdated and typically only target one of these groups with the potential of missing out on qualified candidates.
What are Traditional Driver Recruitment Methods?
1. Post and Pray
With this method, employers post the job to an internal website or external job board (like Monster or CareerBuilder) and hope for the best. The challenge with this approach is that it only targets those currently unemployed or looking for a new job.
2. Referral Programs
Referral programs can be highly effective and are recommended for all trucking companies. With a referral program, you know that the candidates have a personal connection with current employees. This helps with retention and also ensures that incoming candidates have a good understanding of the job responsibilities and company culture. This approach reaches all three types of candidates.
This includes physical signage, flyers, vehicle graphics, and billboards to advertise your company’s openings. Historically, this method is expensive and doesn’t always provide a good return on investment. However, it does have the potential for reaching drivers who are currently employed and not looking for another job.
4. Social Media
This approach is becoming more popular in the new digital age. Since companies have to rely on employees to repost and spread the posting to their networks, this is only effective if you can get the right people to share the social media posting.
Recommendations to Improve Traditional Methods
To enhance these traditional methods to attract better candidates, there are a few driver retention ideas that the experts at Inflection Poynt recommend
1. Highlight Purpose
First, job postings need to be revised to outline not only the job details and responsibilities but also the purpose. People want to know they are making a difference in their community. Help them envision why this role is important and provides social value.
2. Paid Advertising on Social Media
If you already have a social media posting created, you can easily give this a boost through paid advertising. This approach allows you to target specific demographics or geographic locations. However, this can be expensive if you don’t already have an extensive social media presence and following.
3. Resume Database Search
Candidates love the feeling of knowing they stood out from the crowd. Being contacted directly by a recruiter with a personalized message can significantly improve initial perceptions and help them feel valued and respected. Inflection Poynt offers its clients a proprietary software that mines major job databases for high-quality candidates that fit your criteria.
Key Driver Retention Survey Findings: Finding Talent
● 63% of all drivers surveyed stated they were looking for better pay.
● 37% of drivers felt that pay was secondary and focused on other benefits such as health insurance, relationship with a manager, and company culture.
● In terms of better pay, 44% said they wouldn’t switch jobs based on pay alone.
● 68% said they wouldn’t switch jobs unless the pay increase was greater than 20%.
● Less than half of all respondents stated that a sign-on bonus was a significant factor that would attract them to a company.
Phase 2: The Hiring Process
In reviewing the hiring process, our driver retention survey identified some interesting factors driving good-quality candidates away. Overall, many expressed frustrations with the time required during the application and interview process. Candidates felt that their time was valuable and didn’t like wasting their time on multiple calls or extensive applications.
Key Survey Findings: The Hiring Process
● 84% of respondents stated they would “give up” on the opportunity if the application was too complicated or the hiring process was too long. We recommend keeping the process to a simple application, one phone call, and one in-person interview at the most.
● 62% of candidates said that if a hiring process takes more than a week, it is too long.
Phase 3: Employee Retention
While pay is always an important factor in retaining talent, our driver retention survey confirmed that it doesn’t tell the whole story. Overall, employees want to feel respected and their jobs have a purpose. They want to be treated fairly and like they are an asset to the company. Work-life balance and strong company leadership also influence an employee’s decision to leave a company.
What Can Companies do to Retain Truck Drivers?
● When asked how they would spend the company’s money if they controlled the budget, 49% said something other than pay. Aside from pay, the top results included new equipment, safety, and training.
● 59% said that the quality of leadership was the most important factor in retaining employees.
● While sign-on bonuses can help attract talented employees, they don’t make them stay. 67% stated that signing a bonus spread over the first year of employment wouldn’t be enough to keep them from looking for a new job.
● While many drivers enjoy the extra hours and overtime that truck driving provides, 44% of drivers stated that 55 hours a week was too many hours to ensure a good work-life balance.
Final Thoughts and Driver Retention Ideas
Based on the results of our driver retention survey, it’s clear that the traditional approaches to attracting and retaining need to be refreshed. We took all the data from our survey and boiled it down to one simple question: What advice would you give to a prospective employer to help them attract and retain talented drivers? Here are the results:
● 51% – Provide Respect and Purpose
● 27% – Higher Pay
● 17% – Better Equipment & Safety
● 5% – Improved Application Process
We’re confident companies that make an effort to provide candidates with the dignity and respect they deserve will significantly improve their ability to secure the top talent they need. We hope that this data helps create additional driver retention ideas. The best part is that respect and purpose are completely free.
Read more in our ultimate guide to driver retention.
For the full findings you can download the survey results.