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5 Problems Fleet Managers Need to Address During Truck Driver Onboarding

Replacing truck drivers can come at a massive cost, and even a dent in retention efforts can increase profits dramatically. What are fleet managers to do? Though most often cited, the major reasons truck drivers turn over aren’t limited to pay or working hours — in fact, many key issues arise from the moment of hire. Address these five key onboarding issues to ensure long-term success.

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Five Problems to Address in Truck Driver Onboarding

1. Lack of Work/Life Balance

Long working hours and time away from family are a part of the job, but that doesn’t make the situation any less difficult. Consequently, more and more fleets — especially the most competitive ones — are exploring how they can help drivers strike a better work/life balance. During onboarding, encourage drivers to be open and honest about their personal needs and family priorities so that they can be accommodated when possible. This shows new hires that they are more than just a number and provides a greater sense of autonomy.

2. Problems With Dispatch and Managers

It’s often said that “employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” This is especially true for truck drivers, who often have two bosses: dispatch and their actual manager.

Unsurprisingly, dispatcher problems are a key reason drivers leave their current role. Orientation is a great time to explain:

  • How dispatch works
  • How to talk to and negotiate with dispatch
  • How to ask for other options
  • How to communicate customer delays
  • How to deal with disputes and miscommunications

If you don’t have training and policies to smooth the relationship between drivers and dispatch, consider creating them. The time you’ll spend on due diligence will always be less than is needed to replace your drivers.

3. Customer Headaches

Though it can be a touchy subject, tips and guidelines for customer interactions should be covered in your new hire orientation program. Customers who take a long time to unload a truck, for instance, can have a significant impact on operational efficiency and your brand’s reputation. Drivers should be prepared to address customer issues confidently and professionally. They should also know how to escalate larger problems to dispatch and work toward a quick resolution. Not only does this remind drivers that their time is valuable, but it reinforces that they can rely on the broader organization for support and assistance when needed.

4. Expectation Management

Some recruiters have earned a reputation for promising the moon, so it’s critical to find out why a driver left their previous company and what drew them to yours. That valuable context can help set realistic expectations from the get-go, preventing misunderstandings and minimizing job dissatisfaction. This dialogue is a great opportunity to set your organization up for success, too, providing clearer insight into where you fit within the competitive landscape.

5. Communication with Headquarters

Truck drivers spend the majority of their time alone, so it’s important they’re reminded that they’re a valuable part of something bigger. Onboarding, especially in-person sessions, is a great opportunity to make them feel like a valued member of the team. Introduce them to as many people as possible and encourage your staff to prioritize getting to know new hires, in person if possible or by phone or email if not. Even a little communication can go a long way in creating goodwill. Make sure this trend continues when they’re out on the road. Check out these seven daily safety messages to see how you can maintain closer contact with your fleet.

Enhance Your Company’s Truck Driver Retention Strategies

Mastering driver retention is a competitive advantage that will enhance overall fleet performance and create long-term cost savings, but your strategy needs to start from the moment of hire. Don’t overlook onboarding any longer! Download our free guide below for our top tips to streamline your hiring process.

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