Words from the Road: Preventing Truck Driver Turnover
Wages, Fair Treatment, and Time at Home
According to the American Trucking Association, the turnover rate at large truckload carriers in 2018 was a staggering 95 percent. Recruiting and retaining drivers is a challenge trucking companies face all the time. Trucking companies ask themselves, “Why is driver turnover so high?” and “What is the reason for the driver shortage?” The answer is to ask the drivers yourself.
In my experience talking with truck drivers, each have their own unique reasons for choosing a particular trucking company to work for. However, drivers do share some common ground about qualities they look for in a trucking company. Some of these common qualities include wages, fair treatment, and the amount of time they are able to be at home. As for the driver shortage, trucking is a demanding job, and if the trucking company does not provide a safe, productive environment, it will not be an enticing position for drivers to apply for.
The cost of truckload driver turnover was $8,234 on average last year, according to Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute
Getting feedback from drivers is one of the most effective driver retention strategies because you learn what matters most to them. I asked 5 experienced Commercial Driver License (CDL) semi-drivers about qualities they look for in trucking companies, and why they think there is a driver shortage. Their responses are below.
All 5 drivers interviewed have been driving semi-trucks for over 10 years. I made sure each driver had similar career lengths, and I thought 5 drivers would be enough to draw similarities between each other. The names have been changed to protect the identities of the respondents.
The majority of them chose a trucking career because of the opportunity to see the country while also making money. Other respondents simply enjoyed driving for work and naturally transitioned to driving semi-trucks.
Two of the five drivers, who I will refer to as Anthony and George, have only worked for 2 trucking companies throughout their trucking career. Both worked at their first company for only about a year before transitioning to their current employer. Despite these similarities, the reasons for their transitions were different: Anthony, an owner operator, transitioned because the HQ of the new company was closer to his house. George, an employee driver, switched companies because of the higher wages offered.
The reason for transitions amongst the drivers who have worked for more than two companies included:
- More time off to spend at home
- Higher income
- Fair & safe treatment
While owner operators have the option to contract for multiple companies, employee drivers typically work for one company at a time. However, there are some owner operators who choose to commit to one trucking company if the relationship is sustainable.
Regardless of how many trucking companies drivers have worked for, there seems to be a lot of common ground about qualities the drivers look for in a company. All 5 of the drivers interviewed revolved their answers around good pay, fair & safe work environment, and home time.
"If you’re away from your families, you need to be making the money” - Quote from an actual truck driver
When I asked the drivers about reasons for the driver shortage, their answers seem to reflect, to a degree, what they said about qualities they look for in a trucking company. Drivers want to be treated properly and compensated fairly, especially because of how demanding the job is. If there is a lack of benefits, that trucking position simply looks unappealing to drivers.
Wages, regulations, lifestyle, and trucking is a technical trade; it’s not easy to get a license.” - Quote from another truck driver
Drivers highly value how they are treated within the company they work for, and BlyncSync can provide insight into how managers’ treatment of drivers may be affecting them personally. BlyncSync has the unique capability of identifying signs of an overworked driver, for example, giving companies an opportunity to accommodate their employees early on before the employees decide to leave. This, in turn, results in lower turnover rates for the company and higher employee satisfaction.
It is important to remember that every driver has their own unique experiences and preferences regarding their trucking career. Ask a professional driver yourself about what matters most to them, and feel free to share your unique experience/perspective by commenting on this blog. Your insight is greatly appreciated.