Has the thought ever crossed your mind that keeping your best employees is just as, if not more important than customer satisfaction and retention? If you manage a fleet, we can assume that you know how important this is, extending specifically to your driving population.
You also know that highly-engaged truck drivers feeling passionate and empowered to do their best work experience less absenteeism. It’s most likely clear in the records your company keeps that showcase the number of days missed. Incredibly, feeling passionate and empowered results in almost 60 percent less turnover than disengaged employees.
Another study showcased that companies with highly stressed employees spend up to 50 percent more on healthcare expenses than comparable organizations. For the sake of employee health, satisfaction and productivity as well as overall employee job satisfaction, keeping stress to a minimum is important.
How does this apply to truck drivers? Better yet, how do you keep your truck drivers satisfied with their roles?
The problem with truck driver turnover
The transportation industry has one of the lowest levels of job satisfaction. Research shows that more than 30 percent of truckers quit in the first three months and 50 percent quit in their first six months.
There are many reasons truckers become dissatisfied with their jobs. Whether it be that their employer makes promises they can’t keep or long hours alone in the cab. Either way, hiring and retaining the right truck drivers as well as keeping them happy should be number one priority for the savvy fleet managers in such a competitive landscape.
It’s not just productivity and truck driver turnover that are impacted by driver satisfaction, but driver safety as well. Researchers have previously examined whether satisfaction and anger affected driving behavior in a simulator. What they discovered was compelling. Truck drivers experiencing negative emotions were more likely to drive aggressively, reducing their ability to react quickly in a crisis and destroying the ability to be attentive to their surroundings.
It’s easy to connect the dots and see that aggressive or distracted truck drivers means inherently fewer safe drivers, inviting the results of high-risk behavior in to impact your company. If concerned about the safety of your truck drivers, company and community, strive toward ensuring employee job satisfaction is at an all-time high. How can you work to improve truck driver satisfaction and reduce stress behind the wheel within your fleet?
3 ways to improve truck driver satisfaction
Offer competitive pay
Nearly 90 percent of Americans say they “sometimes” stress about money. For over a third of Americans, that stress is “constant.” Truck drivers who live paycheck-to-paycheck are less likely to be attentive than those who are paid fairly as a result of competing distractions.
These truck drivers are also more likely to experience elevated levels of stress, leading to potentially dangerous and aggressive behavior. While you have a budget to keep, it pays more in the long run to invest in your drivers. Remember that it costs nearly $12,000 to find, hire, onboard and train a new employee, exponentially more than it does to retain a current one.
What if you can’t afford to increase salaries? Consider offering incentives for drivers who complete work on time, have no customer complaints, save on fuel or surpass any internal standards your company has that relate to success.
Provide more feedback
Communicate that you value your truck driver time and work. Praise goes a long way in cultivating a happy and success-filled environment.
Around 40 percent of standard workers say they don’t feel appreciated at work and 65 percent say they want more feedback. Many employees never receive any feedback, good or bad, unless their performance becomes a concern. Keep in mind that truck drivers have it even worse — since they’re not in the office, they can go all day without any feedback.
Recognition and rewarding of a good performance are integral in maintaining fleet satisfaction. Consider the incentives provided that promote and encourage safe behavior. If you don’t provide context for what drivers can expect when hitting milestones or achieving great feats of safety, they’ll lack the motivation needed to surpass those benchmarks. A great example is to congratulate truck drivers who go a year or 50,000 miles without an incident.
Provide driver training at all stages
Training does not have to be a bad thing, although many consider it to be used only in times of remediation. Put training at the forefront of driver satisfaction to combat the dissatisfaction expressed from prior roles upfront. Lesson plans assigned in the beginning stages of onboarding are a great way to do this.
Don’t let training fall off the map, either upon your truck drivers being onboarded and acclimated. Use driver training to focus on continuous improvement and education of driver skills. Showcase that you’re investing in the success of your truck drivers by working to understand the ongoing struggles and challenges they’re facing. Address those hurdles using comprehensive driver training.
As a fleet manager, you’ll find yourself creating a mutually beneficial relationship, giving your drivers the opportunity to keep skills sharp and in turn, ensure the safety of your company as well as other drivers on the road. Make sure that assignment of driver training and the costs associated are covered by your company to effectively communicate not only that safety is top priority, but also that driver satisfaction is consistently being thought of.
Start with your drivers
A happy workplace is a safe workplace, and safe workplaces start with driver safety. After all, if your drivers have high job satisfaction, they’re more likely to stay longer with your company and perform better. That’s why it’s so important to start with drivers. A happy driver increases retention, benefits your bottom line and ultimately provides your customers with a better experience – and what’s better than that?
To learn more about what every company needs to know about driver safety, download our transportation benchmark.