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What Factors Lead to Driver Retention?

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As the trucking industry faces a high turnover rate of 87% this year, according to Bob Costello of American Trucking Associations, keeping drivers happy with their fleet has definitely been a challenge. But there are a number of drivers who stay loyal to their carrier. And EpicVue recently conducted a study on drivers to learn the top reasons why they stay with a particular company.

For the study, various fleets were polled about employee loyalty, inquiring about what percent of each fleet’s drivers had worked less than one year, between one to five years, five to 10 years, and over 10 years, and what actions were taken to improve retention. Most fleets had predominantly new drivers, but that didn’t always mean the fleet had a retention problem since some carriers had recently hired a lot of new people due to company growth. Those companies able to inspire loyalty did so through a variety of innovative programs, for example: soliciting ideas and feedback from drivers and acting on some of those ideas; providing company email addresses and iPhones to help drivers stay in touch; and putting managers through ethics and management classes.

The study also included a survey of over-the-road drivers contacted at truck stops. Approximately 270 drivers completed the survey. They ranged in age from the early 20’s, to over 50 years old. On average they had worked for their present employer for almost six years and spend two to three weeks away from home at a stretch. The survey asked three basic questions: Besides money, what is the best part of being a professional truck driver? In addition to a paycheck, what is the best part of working for your particular fleet? What makes you most loyal to your employer?

At the top of the list, 37% of drivers favored employers that were respectful, friendly, and kind. Then 26% of drivers valued the independence of the job, followed by 25% who gave their loyalty to companies that listen to suggestions and offer good incentives and benefits. The numbers reveal drivers’ humanistic needs and desires to work for companies that respect them as people, respect their autonomy, and respect their abilities with comprehensive benefits.

Fleets that focus on finding ways to involve drivers in decision-making, respect drivers’ ideas, and make drivers feel like they are valued at the company, are more likely to experience longevity and driver satisfaction with their employer. If implemented industry wide, these company values might be the answer to lower the driver turnover rate. 


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