How to Improve Truck Driver Retention

Updated: Oct 17




Truck Driver Retention

America relies on truck drivers to transport goods, supplies, and hazardous materials, navigate complicated roads and routes and ensure all the products arrive in their prime condition, on time, and safely. However, truck driver retention among truck drivers seems complicated due to job dissatisfaction, unsafe work conditions, and inefficiency of fleet management.


Carriers continue to lose experienced and quality talents due to these factors. As a result, truck drivers' average turnover is at least 80% annually. Given this scenario, they need to replace almost its entire force, which is uneasy and challenging. In March 2021 alone, large fleets averaged 89% of driver turnover, two points higher than in 2020, revealed the American Trucking Association.


For other industries, turnover can be associated with leaving their jobs. However, it's a different case in the trucking industry. Turnover among truckers can also mean switching or hopping from one carrier to another. So, how to retain truck drivers? In the following, our truck driver recruitment agency shares top tips to improve retention in your company.


What is driver retention?


It simply means keeping your truck drivers happy and satisfied enough to stay with your company for a long time, if not for a lifetime. CDL drivers switch companies for better hours, benefits, compensation, work-life balance, and culture.


Generally, according to NetSuite, employee retention is your ability to prevent turnover – or your people leaving your company, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Engagement is the answer because truck drivers who feel safer are better employees and are more likely to stay.


According to research by Bersin, companies with engaged employees lowered employee turnover by 31%. In addition, those who succeed with effective truck driver retention strategies can save hiring, training, and onboarding costs.


One turnover costs a company six to nine months of the employee's salary to replace an employee, reported the Society for Human Resource Management, not to mention the hiring, training, and onboarding.


You might also like: Top 6 Reasons Truck Drivers Succeed in the Trucking Industry.

Use better equipment and schedule regular maintenance of your fleet


One of the best truck driver retention ideas that you could use to keep drivers loyal is to invest in quality equipment. You could imagine they’d feel like sitting in an uncomfortable, poor seat and tight cab space for up to 11 hours a day.

See that you make drivers feel comfortable and safe behind the wheel and confident that the brakes won't go out, too.


Schedule maintenance regularly and win their trust. Maintain your fleet with noise-free, polished, and 100% working vehicles that they can be happy with, which will boost their morale.


Your trucks should be in good working condition to prevent them from breaking down anytime, increasing the chances of crashes and putting your driver and the public at risk of injury or accidents.


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies unveiled a staggering 45,000 accidents annually caused by vehicle malfunction, a majority due to poor vehicle maintenance. Corrosion in the exterior of your vehicle with the noisy exhaust is a sign of poor maintenance. Unfortunately, this can also be a sign of neglect that will not boost customer trust in your business.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all trucking companies to inspect, repair, and maintain the vehicle in control.


Lack of truck maintenance can increase the chances of a crash or accident, precisely because of conditions, like hub separations, rusty axles, steering problems, and wheel bearing failures. Other conditions include faulty couplings, a trailer hitch, and broken mirror or tail lights.


Regular maintenance, therefore, will not only extend the life of your trucks and prevent them from signs of wear and tear but will also ensure your business won’t suffer from paying the high cost of road accidents.


You might also like: 3 Steps to Landing Your Ideal Trucking Job.


Improve communication


Treat your CDL truck drivers as partners, not as only employees. Discuss minor issues before they become significant problems. Enhance communication and make it a part of great company culture, requiring a collaborative effort from each team member to establish a meaningful one.


Communication is an integral component of making it happen. Having enough of it, along with transparency, can breed trust.


Gather feedback and listen. Take the call from a frustrated driver with delay issues at a loading dock, respond to a request for a day off, or be a soundboard for an employee having a bad day. Simply asking how they feel can make a huge difference in lifting morale and improving driver performance.


Know your drivers and improve operations. Focus on building strong and genuine working relationships for long-term success. Foster a sense of pride, purpose, and belongingness by getting to know your employees.


Use SMS solutions. Loading docks can be loud, so two-way conversations over a CB radio or mobile phone can be a real issue. Send an SMS instead of making a call to improve communication.


Minimizing or cutting the jargon altogether is another way to enhance fleet communication to avoid misinterpretation since most of them are non-native English speakers. Spanish is the most common at 75%.


Thus, using jargon may not be the best route to take. You must double-check that they understand the information you've sent and always see that you're sticking to the correct terminology.


Use dispatch and scheduling solutions. Find and take advantage of a scheduling program that can meet your complex needs. Use an intuitive and easy-to-use solution to schedule and dispatch drivers with your phone, tablet, or keyboard. Some also allow customization of a hire list and collaboration between dispatchers and drivers.


Act on feedback. Everyone wants to be heard, so establish open and transparent communication channels allowing drivers to share their feedback and ideas. Engage them in problem-solving and make them feel they're significant assets to your company.


Use technology. Avoid outdated methods, but use technology to make your drivers' lives safer, more productive, and more accessible. For example, use a reliable fleet tracking solution to help save fleet resources and time and provide more efficient routing, leading to more efficient trips and helping bring drivers home sooner.


Let your drivers feel more supported with updated technology, which may also allow them to improve their skills, like a driver safety program for coaching sessions. This can make them feel a sense of support from your fleet.


Offer ongoing education and skill improvement.


According to the Consumer Technology Association, professional development programs are one of the most powerful and effective retention tools, regardless of field or industry. It increases perceived appreciation and improves overall operational productivity. Skilled and talented truck drivers are more capable of handling and facing challenges than those who are not.


You might also like: 5 Things Truck Drivers Should NEVER Do


Pay on time and consider offering a raise.


Trucks carry 72% of goods and products throughout the USA. One of the best ways to address turnover and improve retention rates is sufficient to pay, which is the most critical factor in making truck drivers stay, according to a WorkHound 2020 survey of 12,700 participants.


Additionally, the American Transportation Research Institute reported driver compensation ranked second among the most critical issues in the trucking industry (October 2020 edition) - #1 among company drivers and #3 among owner-operators and independent contractors.


And, more importantly, ensure that they get paid on time. Have a system in place, like multiple payment options and instant notifications in case salary is delayed, so that you can make needed adjustments when needed.


Consider raising pay. Some carriers continue to increase pay to address the truck driver shortage. Also, consider having a good pay scale to retain drivers and give them enough incentive to stay.


Tip from our truck driver recruitment agency: You’ll be able to build compensation packages accordingly by understanding the market for quality drivers. As demand for truck drivers increases, it will pay off to improve bonus structures and wages to help you remain competitive and attract and retain quality drivers.


Celebrate wins, big or small!


The average driver turnover cost is $15000 per driver. Acknowledge a job well done to boost morale and show appreciation to your people. This will help increase employee engagement. Offer meaningful incentives and reward drivers for doing a great job.


A way to get started in incentivizing while motivating them is tying objective measures with performance. Some data-driven metrics include safe miles driven, positive customer reviews, coaching scores, and collision-free days.


Improve your company’s safety culture


Make safety one of your organization's core values, so it will also become a priority at all levels, from your mission and vision to employee meetings and overall values.


Set the tone in your leadership. Talking on the phone is prohibited while driving? Don't talk on the phone at the wheel, too. Without even saying, stay committed to your company's safety culture. Live that message you want your team to live by.


Hold drivers accountable for safety. Use data to measure safety performance. Telematics combined with video is a good tool, giving you straight facts to improve driver behavior. This not only improves retention but also prevents accidents.


Safety issues can be treated as training and coaching instead of relying on and using punishments to change poor driver behavior. Develop a safety culture, sit down with your driver, and understand certain behaviors, like falling asleep on the road. Is he fatigued from a scheduling change?


Promote rest and work-life balance


Poor work-life balance can lead to higher turnover intentions and employee turnover, while work-life balance positively affects organizational performance and improves truck driver retention rates.


Fatigued and stressed truck drivers are likelier to be unsafe around and on the road with fellow motorists, and strict deadlines can further stress them. They can do better when they're well-rested than tired and overworked truck drivers.


Limit or ban driver overtime. Be flexible with scheduling if there is a chance for flexibility in the delivery time, allowing your drivers to be home more without negatively impacting their work efficiency and productivity.


Allow them to take time off for important family events attended as a family, like funerals, weddings, and births. Extracurricular school events are also crucial for trucker's life, so make it possible for them to attend those.


Promote enough sleep. A 2012 study reports that those sleeping for at most five hours in the 24 hours preceding work schedule can be at an increased risk of getting into an accident. So encourage them to make sleep a priority to limit daytime fatigue.


Promoting good work-life balance among truck drivers can improve their happiness and mental health, making it more likely for them to stick around long-term.


Encourage health and wellness


A CDC survey discovered long-haul drivers are more likely to be overweight, smoke, and are less active than other US workers. They may also develop health problems because of their work environment.


One of the best ways to retain truck drivers is to improve driver health, so some fleets are now offering benefits, like free nutrition programs, health screenings, and on-site gyms.


They also consider reviewing or changing insurance plans and comparing them with those offered by competitors. In addition, fleet managers and owners are now considering providing information about diet and exercise and setting company-wide incentives. Some also use technology like heart-rate trackers, activity trackers, and pedometers.


These actions further show how invested you are in your drivers, boosting their loyalty and engagement and improving your overall positive truck driver retention statistics.


Final Thoughts


Happy, engaged, and healthy drivers are more likely to stay, meaning more stability for you and fewer turnovers.


Implementing truck driver retention programs, improving communication channels, encouraging work-life balance, and promoting health and wellness are specific measures to improve retention.


Using technologies, offering incentives, and paying drivers sufficiently and timely are also vital to make them stay long-term. Finally, and most importantly, consider giving drivers a solid and realistic job preview to set expectations from the start, and that's something that Rig on Wheels recruitment services might be able to help you with.

Contact us to learn more and talk to one of our dedicated recruiters today!


Driver Application Link

Contact us today! 281-968-3100​​

If you work in the trucking industry and want to share your experience, email me at recruiting@rigonwheels.com


To learn more about Rig on Wheels Broker and Recruitment Services.

Email questions to recruiting@rigonwheels.com


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