Fleet owners must understand what turns drivers away

The driver shortage in the trucking industry is a real problem, and many fleet owners struggle with how to prevent this issue from slowing down their firms. Fleet managers want to retain their best drivers in order to protect their company safety ratings as well as reduce the business impact of high turnover rates. Fleet owners that make investments in technologies like route optimization software can often make a driver's job easier. A better driving experience along with higher productivity that can improve a driver's earning may help to reduce employee churn. 

Recent data from research firm Stay Metrics investigated why drivers decide to move and what factors make them stay at their current jobs. The research company asked truckers more than 80 different questions relevant to the industry.

"We've discovered stark contrasts between drivers in different age groups," said Tim Hindes, president and CEO of Stay Metrics. "While drivers between 25 and 35 make up just 10 percent of those who participated in the survey, almost half of the drivers who quit - 40 percent - come from this age group."

One event could set off a driver
Drivers who decide to leave their employers may not give their bosses too many clues that they are planning to pursue new positions. According to the survey, truckers would be more willing to leave their firm if they were offered higher pay, better benefits and more vacation time at another company.

"The group that quit are twice as likely to say they intend to leave," said Dr. Ying Cheng, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. "However, when asked if they had thought about quitting in the past six months, the 'yes' rate isn't nearly as high. That suggests the decision to leave may be driven by an event."

It can be tough to gauge when a driver is going to leave the company, so trucking fleet owners may want to provide a strong benefits package to help them hold on to their best employees. 

"In the turnover group, drivers cited more respect, better career advancement opportunities and more time at home," Cheng said. "Advancement and career opportunities didn't turn up at all in the general population, but did turn up in answers from those who quit."

Make a concerted effort to hold on to drivers
Understanding there is no quick fix to the driver shortage, fleet managers need to explore many options to help retain staff. A post for Talking Truckers highlighted that basic respect for employees goes a long way. They outlined some strategies for holding on to the best drivers.

•Praising them on their work ethic and dedication to their career.
•Respecting their integrity and responsibility on the job.
•Acknowledging their ability to adjust to even the most adverse conditions.

Addressing the very real driver shortage is something that all fleet owners need to do in order to ensure the  survival of their firms. The first step fleet owners can take to recognize their top talent may be one of the most important.