Asking the Right Question. 1 Kuntz, Ray. Transportation’s Role in Climate Change and Reducing Greenhouse Gases. July 14, 2009. Most fleets suffering from industry-average turnover rates ask, “Why do drivers leave?” Unfortunately, the only people who can honestly answer that question have already packed up and gone. So these fleets look to new recruits, assuming that the incentive that attracted a new driver (typically pay rate) from an old company will also retain that driver. But a large majority of driver turnover occurs within the first 90 days a driver is hired. Clearly, new recruits may not be the best group by which to gauge motivators for driver loyalty. We suggest asking, “Why do drivers stay?” Typically, if you can find a segment of drivers that have maintained their employment with you for 6 months or more, you’ve likely found a loyal group of drivers. Find out how you’ve earned that loyalty.
In January 2010, Open Road Drivers Plan ® conducted a survey of professional truck drivers, asking this question, to determine the key factors driving loyalty to carriers. Drivers were asked to rate the importance of specific employee benefits in their decision to stay with or leave a trucking company. Research Summary. Driver Breakdown 48% - Retired or Unemployed* 52% - Active Drivers 68% - Company Drivers 32% - Owner-Operators Demographic Males 36-55 years of age Earning $0.43 / mile where applicable Benefit Categories Compensation and Incentives Equipment and Technology Employee/Company Communications Job Stability *Only active drivers were considered when weighing the value of employee benefits and job satisfaction.
Less than 10% of active drivers rate their current trucking companies “above average” in providing basic employee benefits. 35% rated their current companies “below average” -- a relief perhaps for the 55% of trucking companies landing in the “magic middle,” but in an industry that consistently maintains turnover rates in the triple digits, achieving minimum expectations may cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Research Summary. Rate your most recent company for their performance in the following categories: Equipment and Technology, Benefits and Incentives, Co-workers and Management, Corporate Environment. (Average Overall Corporate Scores)
<ul><li>For the purpose of this survey, job stability was classified as a company’s ability to provide steady miles to its drivers, a driver’s perceived stability of the company, the driver’s ease in doing business with the company, and the driver’s desire for career support and development. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Miles </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Career Support and Development </li></ul></ul></ul>Job Stability is all About Mobility.
Keep a driver driving, and you’re likely to have a satisfied employee. 100% of surveyed drivers agree that steady work/miles and the stability of their company determined their loyalty to their fleet. After all, an attractive mileage rate doesn’t amount to much without mileage to multiply the extra pay-per-mile. Quality, consistent miles clearly indicate to a driver that both the trucking company and the job are secure. Job Stability is all About Mobility.
Carriers that rated highest among drivers for overall job satisfaction clearly communicate career advancement opportunities to all employees. But job stability has a long-term impact as well. Many drivers (74%) identified career support and development as important to their loyalty; the carriers that rated highest among drivers for overall job satisfaction clearly communicate career advancement opportunities to all employees. Make sure you understand your drivers’ long-term goals, whether they be to lease their own truck, to transport freight or HazMat, or to advance into an office/management position. Even if a driver intends to be a company driver until retirement, the knowledge that other opportunities exist may create an increased perception of job stability. Job Stability is all About Mobility.
Driver incentive programs improve driver and company morale and have been shown to decrease fleet costs. Appreciation Makes the Job Worthwhile. The FMCSA references one incentive pilot program that decreased new driver turnover from 98% to 20%.  If we estimate the average cost of turnover per driver at $8,000, that 78% differential equates to over $600,000 in corporate savings per every hundred drivers hired. Beyond this, the FMCSA was also able to identify an average decrease in carrier crashes, insurance claims and workers’ compensation claims of 65% by carriers utilizing a safety-specific incentive program.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “Driver Issues: Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Literature Review.” June, 2007.
Two out of three drivers place high value on a company’s driver recognition and safety incentive programs when deciding whether to stay with or leave a carrier, and 97% of drivers place value in the carrier’s overall dedication to safety. Appreciation Makes the Job Worthwhile. How important are the following when choosing to stay with an employer?.
The most referenced word when we asked drivers to write-in other factors to their job satisfaction was “honesty.” Communication is the Retention Lifeline. <ul><li>When a driver spends 100,000+ miles/year on the road, every communication that driver has with your company is pivotal to overall job satisfaction. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>100% of drivers surveyed claimed that their relationship with company dispatchers was important to their longevity with a company. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>97% placed the same importance on mass fleet communications and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>81% on their driver manager and other management. </li></ul></ul>
The value of optimizing these contacts is transparent; the better question may be how to optimize them. Communication is the Retention Lifeline. Methodology: Your drivers lead a mobile lifestyle, and your job as their employer is to maximize their mileage. That said, a driver’s lifestyle can limit your ability to maintain personal contact; so be sure to enlist a variety of personal and mass communication methods into your daily contact with drivers: voicemails, hotlines, personal phone calls, text messages, email, online forums, web conferences, in-person one-on-one meetings and focus groups. Messaging: If we understand that “Appreciation Makes the Job Worthwhile,” then every individual within your organization should be aware and appreciative of the value your drivers provide to your company. Be clear in your communications with drivers and ensure that the underlying message is always one of appreciation and respect.
Preparing for the Future. <ul><li>Any number of factors will contribute to this deficit: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a number of drivers thrown into early retirement due to the current recession, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the continued aging of the existing driver population with a scarcity of new recruits, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the implementation of CSA 2010 and more stringent safety tracking at the driver level, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a boost to the economy and, therefore, freight tonnage. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The key takeaway for fleets is to start preparing now. Build loyalty among the drivers you have with clear communications. Offer incentives and awards that both decrease your fleet overhead and increase driver satisfaction with your company, and reinforce their current and future job stability. </li></ul>Despite high driver unemployment rates and low driver turnover today, the American Trucking Association continues to predict a new shortage by 2014.   American Trucking Association. Media Note. August, 2009
Open Road Drivers Plan ® <ul><ul><li>Multi Service ® established Open Road Drivers Plan, a legal referral service for professional drivers, as a safety and retention tool for fleet owners. Since 1989, professional truck drivers have been utilizing this unique service to gain local, licensed legal services for their traffic citations. Open Road Drivers Plan works in accordance with fleets to improve safety initiatives and driver appreciation throughout the trucking industry. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thank you for your interest in this free white paper. We welcome your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Please consider sending us a note about how this paper has helped you. Check out the Open Road Drivers Plan website at www.ordp.com . If you would like to contact an Open Road representative directly, you can call 1-800-848-3060 or email [email_address] . </li></ul></ul>