In a recent blog, we explored the landscape of commercial driving and the key issues that may be pushing people out of the industry. Some believe there’s a significant commercial driver shortage. Others aren’t convinced. Despite the many conflicting opinions, though, there’s one thing all fleet managers can agree upon – retaining existing drivers is critical to operational health and the long-term success of a commercial fleet.
Unfortunately, even the loss of one driver can have a significant impact on an entire organization. On average, driver turnover costs a company between $6,000 and $12,000. Costs may continue to climb even after filling a vacancy, as less experienced drivers tend to be more accident-prone than their more seasoned peers.
Below, we explore several driver retention strategies that will encourage your drivers to stay for the long haul.
1) Improve Onboarding
Don’t underestimate the importance of a smooth onboarding process. First impressions count! When a commercial driver joins a new organization, the first few weeks on the job can set the tone for their entire experience – for better or for worse.
An easy way to improve your onboarding strategy is by including both in-person and online components. Company policies, safety strategies and pre- and post-trip procedures, for instance, can all be reviewed from the comfort of one’s home. Then, once drivers have built a strong foundation, they’ll be better equipped for one-site, behind-the-wheel training.
2) Develop Your Drivers
Training shouldn’t stop once onboarding is complete, however. Development opportunities are highly sought after by those pursuing a career as a driver. Continuing education will help experienced drivers stay sharp, while newer drivers will gain practical skills and greater confidence. Effective training programs should include a mix of both general and specific topics to empower drivers of all skill levels.
In addition to improved employee satisfaction, companies who demonstrate a clear commitment to their employees’ growth can expect better safety outcomes – our research shows that fleets that train monthly have 50% fewer violations than those that train twice a year.
3) Create Open Communication Channels
Fleet managers should think of their drivers as partners, not just employees. Providing avenues for two-way communication is a simple but impactful way to help drivers feel more empowered in their roles. Regular communication through a variety of different mediums like company-wide emails, newsletters and team meetings is a great way to keep your drivers engaged and informed, improving satisfaction in their day-to-day work.
4) Spot Patterns Early
Drivers of all skill levels can – and will – make mistakes, but it’s critical that small problems don’t grow into big ones. By implementing continuous driver monitoring, fleet managers can gain a clear understanding of which drivers need additional assistance and support. Targeted interventions may seem like a slap on the wrist, but in reality, they show team members that their safety and success is paramount.
5) Recognize and Reward Excellence
Ultimately, retention doesn’t have to be complicated. One simple truth applies to any role in any industry: people want to work where they feel valued.
Acknowledging and celebrating the accomplishments of your drivers is a powerful driver retention tool. Implementing a robust recognition and rewards program demonstrates that you value and appreciate their hard work and dedication. This can take various forms, from performance-based bonuses to safety awards and driver-of-the-month programs.
Explore More Impactful Driver Retention Strategies
In a fiercely competitive industry, driver retention strategies are invaluable tools for building and maintaining a thriving fleet. By focusing on seamless onboarding, continuous development, open communication and recognition, companies can create an environment where drivers feel valued, respected and motivated to stick around.
To learn more about how you can create a more satisfied fleet, download our free checklist, 7 Effective Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Top-Notch Drivers, below.