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In the current economy, as freight and shipping demands continue to trend upwards, the transportation industry is searching for solutions to offset the trucker shortage. For fleets and carriers, this means looking for new ways to attract talent, but there’s another important factor to consider - how is the industry retaining current drivers? 

With the talent shortage, drivers have more power than ever and companies must carefully consider how to keep drivers happy to keep them on the road. According to Teletrac Navman’s 2018 Telematics Benchmark Report, 33% of fleets plan to invest in finding, retaining and developing talent this year. But not all strategies have to be major investments - some may be smaller, simpler ways to show drivers you care about their comfort and wellbeing. Here are a few ways fleets and carriers can improve the driver experience, in honor of National Truckers’ Day on Thurs. 10/4. 

At the highest level, fleets may consider overhauling their salary and benefits program as part of an overall talent retention plan. Our Telematics Benchmark report, in fact, found that 58% of fleets plan to increase pay and 36% plan to offer better benefits to attract and retain talent. For example, some fleets offer bonuses for drivers who refer candidates to a company, which can generate more qualified drivers and further incentivize current employees. For fleet managers looking for outside help, consultants are available to offer a hand in retooling initiatives and developing driver retention programs.

Even simple benefits targeted at drivers’ health and wellness can make a difference and improve their overall wellbeing. Creating informal fitness competitions among drivers to see who can track the most steps using wearables, educating drivers on important health issues and encouraging healthy eating habits are just a few ways fleet managers can show they care about drivers’ overall health. 

Fleets are also adopting technology to help ease talent challenges. By investing in things like driver retention and engagement software, drivers can share feedback and daily challenges to managers through technology, so companies and act on input to improve the driver experience. In another example, companies are investing in safety analytics solutions and developing driver safety programs. Companies can monitor for safe driver behavior and incentivize improved driving or high-performing individuals with both monetary and non-monetary rewards to retain talent. According to Teletrac Navman’s report, 52% of fleets have seen retention as a benefit of rewarding drivers.

Another talent retention approach includes implementing flexible work arrangements, like letting people drive as a team to offer company and companionship and keep vehicles on the road for longer. In one notable trend, the industry is seeing husband and wife teams take on “team driving” for cross-country hauls. With this tandem-driving approach, fleets may install televisions in the vehicles to entertain the off-duty driver. 

When thinking about a driver’s physical surroundings, we see manufacturers designing better vehicles and building nicer cabins, incorporating new technology to create a better experience. Some fleets are also adjusting trucks’ interiors to accommodate drivers’ special requests. For example, one company ripped out the passenger seat so a driver could bring along their bicycle on hauls. Creating a more comfortable environment, tailored to an individual driver’s preferences, will help keep drivers happy.  

When it comes to driver retention, one size does not fit all and often the smallest gestures can go a long way. Planning regular driver appreciation events, like barbecues or potlucks, holding giveaways or contests, participating in National Truck Driver Appreciation Week or organizing events encouraging drivers to bring family are just a few examples of going the extra mile to show drivers you value them. Another low cost, high impact ideas includes creating a way for drivers to openly share their opinions and ideas with management. This helps them feel heard and like their feedback matters. 

Improving overall driver retention not only impacts the bottom line, but by truly showing they care for employees, fleets and carriers can improve recruiting efforts through strengthening their internal driver culture. In celebration of National Truckers’ Day this year, take the opportunity to create personalized, meaningful ways to celebrate your truckers. 

To learn how to keep the best talent on-board, check out our blog on How to recruit and retain drivers using PSP reports.

Oswaldo Flores is a Safety & Compliance Product Manager at Teletrac Navman.

As a former fleet supervisor, Oswaldo has first-hand experience managing drivers and vehicles, ensuring his fleet maintains adherence to all internal and external regulations, policies, and guidelines, including DOT compliance, ANSI/OSHA certifications, and CHP Biennial Inspection of Terminals. Prior to his current position at Teletrac Navman, Oswaldo held fleet and compliance administrative management, fleet supervisory,  sales and business development roles with Pepsi Cola, Time Warner Cable, British Petroleum North America and Legacy Supply Chain Services.