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This past year came with several challenges and transformed the shipping industry in more ways than one. Since July, truckload rates are up 40-50% and rising due to retailers’ attempts to restock their inventory to meet the heightened demand. With these businesses reopening and the need for shipping at an all-time high, now is the perfect time for truckers to find multiple offers for work.

However, despite the wealth of opportunities for drivers, many companies are experiencing high turnover rates. Not only that, but the industry is facing a driver shortage that many professionals feared at the start of the pandemic. While these scenarios don’t seem ideal for operators, there are ways to ensure driver retention. Here are some best practices for retaining your best drivers. 

Finding the fix for the national driver shortage 

1. Invest in your drivers.

In most industries, having the best equipment and supplies is essential to running a successful business and retaining employees. Inadequate equipment and low maintenance are significant reasons why many truckers are abandoning their fleets and employers. 

It’s proven that when companies provide new equipment and proper maintenance, drivers can work more and, in turn, earn more money. If your goal is to keep your employees on and happy, you may want to consider investing in them and the tools they need to succeed. 

The top investments to make include:

  • Newer truck models. 
  • Comfortable seating.
  • Auxiliary power units (APUs).

2. Set clear communication standards.

Many would agree that establishing communication standards is key to having a healthy work environment and a functioning team. In the trucking industry, clear and concise communication is invaluable. To improve retention and team-building, opt for two-way communication with direct channels and consider instilling committees to handle any feedback or peer input to allow for internal cohesion. Over time, you will see improved efficiency and excellent communication skills.

Employment Challenges Facing the Trucking Industry 

3. Offer competitive pay.

Possibly the most obvious way to retain your drivers is through competitive pay. Many owners and operators found pay to be the single factor that drives retention downward. Try offering pay based on a guaranteed minimum mile per week versus the non-reliable high pay per mile. A set mileage will provide your drivers with more stability and keep them happy and willing to do their job. You should also consider offering health insurance packages and/or retirement plans, depending on the size of your fleet. The more you can contribute financially; the more inclined your drivers are to maintain their loyalty.

4. Prioritize health.

Approximately 50% of drivers consider their health one of their top three concerns when considering joining a new fleet. That being said, it’s essential to promote good health by equipping all trucks with functional exercise equipment, offering wellness programs that encourage healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle, and scheduling free health screenings for all drivers. These screenings will ensure optimal health and act as preventative care that keeps your drivers on the road and out of the doctor’s office.

Staying Healthy on the Road

5. Set realistic expectations.

When it comes to any job, transparency and clear expectations are a must; this standard does not change in the transportation industry. Within the first 90 days of employment, drivers will be able to tell if a job is genuinely how it was described, meaning misrepresented positions could lead to higher turnover rates. To avoid this, be upfront with new drivers about the number of miles they can anticipate, compensation, and company culture. 

Another way to ensure retention is by instructing recruiters to provide accurate information when finding fleet operators. Instead of paying your recruiters on a “per hire” basis, offer a flat salary to encourage finding the best candidates instead of collecting drivers like bounties.

6. Support your employees.

Lastly, be sure to reward your drivers’ performances. Offering support and encouragement may seem fickle, but it can be the difference between a semi-operational and fully operational fleet. Experts have gathered that a 10% raise could cure the current driver shortage, although many drivers say that a simple show of appreciation could hold the same power as a raise or promotion.

It’s true, a supportive company culture can lead to excellence through and through. Instruct your fleet managers to monitor your drivers’ key performance indicators or KPIs and their performance through data-driven observations, such as positive customer reviews. You should also consider implementing safe driver programs that reward your fleet operators for minimal idling and safe driving practices.

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