5 Driver Recruitment & Retention Strategies that Actually Work

March 15, 2021

The trucking industry is under a lot of pressure with rising freight demand and fewer drivers available to haul loads. In fact, the American Trucking Associations predicts that driver shortages will rise to over 100,000 by 2022. With an increasingly competitive job market, it has never been more important for businesses to invest in driver recruitment and retention.

Let’s take a look at five driver recruitment and retention strategies that actually work and best practices for fleets to implement them.

Driver shortages are a growing problem in the trucking industry, but rather than recruitment efforts, fleets should invest in driver retention. Click To Tweet

Why Driver Retention Matters

The trucking industry’s driver shortage has become a major cause of concern. In addition to about 80,000 fewer drivers than last year, COVID-19 related closures of truck schools and new Department of Health and Human Services rules could exacerbate the problem. That’s not to mention the migration from fleets to owner-operators to chase down spot opportunities.

While driver recruitment has been a major focus for fleets, annualized turnover at carriers with more than $30 million in annual revenue is over 90% and smaller carriers is nearly 75%, according to Trucking Info. Driver retention strategies can help mitigate these high turnover rates and reduce the need to spend a lot on highly competitive recruiting efforts.

Fortunately, there are many strategies that fleets can implement to improve driver retention and reduce turnover. While some of these efforts require a substantial investment, others require simply listening to drivers’ honest feedback to improve the relationship. Simple changes, such as better explaining pay calculations, can often have a big impact.

#1. Smart Referral Programs

Referral programs are an effective way to recruit new drivers. In fact, Randall Reilly found that 39% of owner-operators and 26% of company drivers use word of mouth to find driving jobs. Referrals are also great for business because they tend to be lower cost and produce higher quality job leads compared to conventional marketing programs.

There are three parts to a successful referral program:

  1. Determine the cash value of a referral by looking at the cost of recruitment from other sources and the revenue potential for a new driver.
  2. Develop worthwhile incentives for referrals based on their value to the business, such as a $1,000 cash incentive or paid vacation days.
  3. Remove friction by providing a recruiter email address to drivers or using mobile apps that make referrals easy to process.

#2. Strong Driver Feedback Loops

Most fleets have some kind of feedback loop in place for drivers. For example, your business might survey drivers each year to measure their satisfaction against benchmarks and identify areas for improvement. The most successful companies make feedback a core part of their culture and strive to constantly measure and improve over time.

There are several ways to collect better feedback:

  • Onboarding programs should solicit frequent feedback during the first 90 days when turnover tends to be high. In frequent check-ins, supervisors and drivers can discuss any potential issues to resolve them before a driver quits the job.
  • Anonymous feedback tools enable companies to collect honest feedback that drivers may be unwilling to bring up in person. The key is asking open-ended questions that enable drivers to expand upon problems with insightful details.
  • Ride-along programs can help supervisors, dispatchers and drivers see potential issues that they may not even realize when in separate spaces. With ample time to connect on key issues, these experiences can help put the company in the drivers’ shoes.

#3. Tech-Driven Driver Experience

Most people can relate to being frustrated with a piece of technology—whether it’s a crashing software application or a cellular dead zone. On the other hand, new technology can make life a whole lot easier through better user experience and automation. Fleets can leverage modern technology to help drivers avoid these stresses and streamline their jobs.

Some of the most impactful tech improvements include:

  • Replace 2G or 3G in-cab ELD solutions with 4G LTE devices to avoid dead zones and improve data speeds, as well as improve data reliability for the business.
  • Modernize scheduling to reduce driver detention times and reduce the paperwork that drivers have to fill out at the loading dock.
  • Install monitoring solutions to identify maintenance issues before they cause problems and simplify cargo monitoring and other tasks for the driver.

PowerFleet for Logistics provides a wide range of 4G LTE telematics solutions to solve these issues. In addition to ELD-compliant in-cab solutions, PowerFleet can help provide full visibility of trailers or containers to dramatically improve scheduling, reduce detention times and ensure that cargo is properly monitored from origin to destination.

#4. Use Positive Reinforcement

Most truckers are familiar with the rules of the road: Wear seatbelts, follow the speed limit, avoid sudden braking and various other rules. With modern telematics, it has become easier than ever for fleets to monitor these factors and penalize violations, but there’s a fine line between punishing bad behavior and maintaining driver relationships.

Positive reinforcement is a better way to encourage good behavior while improving relationships. Rather than punishing bad drivers, you can reward top drivers based on their seatbelt usage, braking habits or acceleration. There are even ways to gamify these behaviors to help drivers monitor and adjust their own behavior in real-time to earn rewards. Drivers can also view how they are being scored in real-time through ELDs, which enables them to make adjustments and see results. In addition, some ELDs provide the ability for two-way communication with drivers so that they can submit feedback to give more context.

#5. Invest in Vehicle Maintenance

Trucks that break down impact on-time delivery and driver relationships. After all, drivers aren’t maximizing their earning potential if they’re sitting on the side of the road. Maintenance issues aren’t limited to the cargo either; a failure to maintain driver cabins or sleeping areas can quickly become a source of frustration as it impacts drivers’ quality of life.

In addition to promptly fixing any problems that arise, predictive maintenance techniques can reduce the probability that maintenance issues ever surface. For example, you may notice that cooling times are taking longer and replace them before they fail. New technologies can also detect problems in real-time and enable a prompt response that minimizes driver downtime.

The Bottom Line

The trucking industry is facing a crisis with an increasing level of freight and fewer drivers, which has created a very competitive job market. By investing in driver recruitment and retention programs, you can reduce turnover among drivers and find new drivers at a lower cost than conventional recruitment programs.

PowerFleet for Logistics provides an array of technologies that can help power many of these strategies. Contact us today to learn more.

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