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Outside The Box: 3 Best CDL Driver Retention Ideas

Don’t Forget To Mention… Retention!

CDL driver retention is an issue for many of the Operations Management who our team at Inflection Poynt has worked with recently. They continue to struggle to keep up with staffing needs.  It’s common knowledge that there is a CDL driver shortage problem that even the Department of Commerce is working to solve.  Often, if companies have luck finding qualified workers, the number of new hires can’t keep up with the combination of active openings and workers who leave for other opportunities.  This problem is compounded by the competitive hiring environment as hiring strengthens as many companies aim to emerge from the pandemic as an industry leader. 

For that to happen, companies are being forced to think differently about how they obtain and retain their workforce.  That is why we are compiling feedback from recent CDL driver applicants to share insight on how a company can be the right kind of “different” that will lead to workforce management success. Check out our ultimate guide to driver retention – ideas and programs here.

1. Control Your Variables

When two variables like new hires and turnover rates are working against each other, it can feel nearly impossible to get ahead.  Even worse, when turnover is happening at a faster rate than new hire starts, it can feel like quicksand.  Add on top of that the national driver shortage and it seems downright impossible. Many operations teams attempt to dig themselves out by focusing harder and harder on new hires.  This means time, energy, and cost.  The result is often exhaustion and a P&L that is bleeding increased losses.

cdl driver retention is difficult with help wanted signs everywhere

However, there is a simple solution to stop the bleeding.  Enact a CDL driver retention program concept that incentivizes current workers to remain with your organization.  We’re not necessarily talking about big raises or massive perks, although they can be effective as well.  Instead, we are suggesting to look at the challenges in your workers’ daily lives and offer an attainable challenge/reward incentive.  Hourly workers particularly experience tipping points during their day which punish self-motivation leading to an employment exit.  By recognizing and countering these events with positive experiences, the idea of leaving the job no longer comes into play. 

A great example of this is the mistreatment of a CDL driver by a customer while on the job.  Suppose that a company recognizes this as a common event causing drivers to quit; they can enact an Experience My Experience program.  The way this works is that drivers are aware of a program that allows them to share their challenging experiences with their internal team in a weekly meeting. 

They discuss the scenario highlighting how they handled or de-escalated the situation.  From there, team members comment and/or offer additional feedback in a group discussion.  The company rewards the driver facilitating the discussion with a gift certificate to a local restaurant (or similar).  If done correctly, this can reduce turnover and allow a company to retain control of your staffing levels.

2. Be Inventive With Your Incentive

Every day that an employee does not show up to work, there is a cost to your business.  Why not identify a nominal award such as an Amazon gift card or similar to an employee who shows up on time every day for a calendar month.  Create a visible challenge board in the breakroom to create friendly competition.  Create an employee rewards program through which employees can earn points and redeem them for goods and services.

Hand written rewards one idea for CDL driver retention

Maybe it’s too difficult to guess what the workers would like.  Instead, communicate that there will be a monthly attendance incentive program and a quarterly (or bi-annual) CDL driver retention incentive.  Create a survey to request input from the workers to understand what they would find most valuable in a program like this.  You might be surprised when the ideas come in and have the potential to qualify for a tax break!

Regardless of what the reward is, the establishment of this type of program will demonstrate the company’s commitment to supporting loyal workers.  Employees will likely recognize this, discuss it with their friends and family, and possibly post about it on social networking along with professional networking websites.

3. Maintain The Feedback Loop

Even after a program is implemented, continue to actively seek feedback from employees.  Ensure that the incentive programs continue to be viewed positively by employees.  If the concept begins to get stale or generates poor experiences, switch it up.  This will show your employees that 1. You are listening to them and 2. You understand the positive impact of rotating incentive programs to keep the excitement fresh.  At the end of the day, employees want to be treated well, compensated to their expectations, and appreciated by their companies.  A vital step to ensuring that these expectations are met is to simply ask them!

Whatever you choose as a CDL driver retention plan, there is one simple truth, having an effective CDL driver retention plan will make them think twice about leaving a company, especially to go to another company that does not.  Conversely, an effective CDL driver retention plan that that is superior to your competitors can easily draw top talent employees to your organization.

Be different. Be innovative. Be better than the competition.  Your employees will thank you for it in more ways than one.

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