Employee Retention

5 Truck driver retention strategies to revolutionize your fleet

April 13, 2023

RESOURCES 5 Truck driver retention strategies to revolutionize your fleet

As the leading frontline employee engagement platform, we field conversations with our partners every day on how to better manage their fleet, reduce truck driver turnover, and the factors that go into retention rates lingering between 80-90% for most organizations. Experts cite the usual culprits such as low driver pay and a poor work-life balance, both exacerbated by an aging workforce not being replaced by younger generations with less interest in the role leading to driver shortages.

Despite the negative impact turnover has on operational costs, productivity, and company culture, organizations are still not prioritizing efforts to reduce attrition – read more about why retention matters. In this blog, we will learn more about why truck driver turnover is historically high as well as the strategies and technologies used to improve retention rates.

What is truck driver retention?

Truck driver retention refers to the ability of an organization to keep their operators on the job for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, high turnover in the trucking industry is a major challenge for logistics companies, with rates reported to be as high as 95% in some cases. These low retention rates can be costly for organizations and disrupt the flow of operations. Ultimately, improving truck driver retention can lead to increased employee satisfaction and productivity, reduced costs, and better overall business performance.

To address the issue of truck driver retention, organizations must start by providing a better work environment for their operators and taking some key steps toward building a retention strategy. This includes improving pay and benefits packages, providing opportunities for career advancement and training, ensuring that drivers have access to proper equipment and technology, and implementing policies that prioritize the well-being of drivers, such as providing adequate rest periods.

Why are truck driver turnover rates high?

According to a recent report by the American Trucking Associations, the annualized turnover rate for large truckload carriers exceeded 90% in the second quarter of 2021, up from 82% in the same period in 2020.

One of the main reasons for the high turnover rates is the competitive nature of the industry, which puts pressure on carriers to offer higher wages and better benefits to attract and retain drivers. In addition, the pandemic has brought new challenges for truck drivers, including increased health and safety concerns, disrupted supply chains, and social isolation from extended periods on the road.

Other factors contributing to high turnover rates include long hours, high-stress levels, lack of job security, and limited opportunities for career advancement. Many operators also face inadequate training and access to proper equipment, which can lead to accidents and other driver safety issues.

To combat the issue of high turnover rates, trucking companies need to prioritize driver satisfaction and invest in strategies that improve the driver experience, such as competitive wages, better benefits, improved working conditions, and more opportunities for career growth and development. By addressing these factors, companies can unlock the benefits of employee retention, reducing costs associated with turnover, and ultimately improving their bottom line.

5 truck driver retention strategies

1. Incorporate technology to improve workflow

Technology can play a vital role in improving truck driver retention by addressing some of the key factors that contribute to driver dissatisfaction and high turnover rates. By providing drivers with access to innovative tools and resources, companies can create a more engaging and rewarding work environment that promotes safety, efficiency, and career growth.

For instance, employee experience platforms can be used to optimize driver performance, provide real-time feedback and coaching to help drivers improve their driving behavior. Mobile apps can provide drivers with easy access to important information and resources, such as safety protocols, trip planning tools, and communication channels. There are also a plethora of applications that can automate mundane tasks that take away from time spent on the road.

Ultimately, by investing in the right technologies, companies can create a more engaging and rewarding work environment that improves driver satisfaction and retention rates. This, in turn, can lead to reduced costs associated with turnover, improved safety, and better overall business performance.


2. Promote and encourage driver feedback

Take advantage of employee engagement platforms, like WorkStep, to promote driver feedback and demonstrate leadership teams value their input. Semi-truck operators or delivery drivers typically have less facetime with their management teams than someone working another frontline-focused job, like in a warehouse. As such, it is important to stay connected with them even while they are on the road to ensure they feel supported, empowered, and prepared to handle any challenge they may face.

Schedules are tight and drivers want to, well, drive. They won’t always have the time to stop into the back office and have a sit-down conversation about their day, work-related stress, or a figurative roadblock keeping them from doing their best work. Utilize frequent check-in surveys, especially pulse surveys, which take less than a minute to complete to keep a regular beat on driver sentiment while allowing them to stay focused on their haul.

For example: when a negative experience is followed by a multi-hour drive, that operator has all of the time in the world to sit and wonder why unloading at the Austin, TX site always leads to a two-hour delay because there aren’t enough loading bays. This can be especially frustrating if the issue is known across the fleet, nothing has been done, and that lost time leads to lost income.

Since truck drivers spend most of their time on the road, they only have so many opportunities to engage with their leadership team. This makes the few touch-points they do have incredibly impactful and it is vital that they feel that their feedback is not only heard, but acknowledged and acted upon.


3. Elevate retention by linking safety and culture

Fleet managers play a crucial role in elevating retention rates for truck drivers by linking safety and culture in the workplace. Communication is key, so leaders should frequently connect with drivers regarding safety policies, procedures, and expectations. They should use this space to provide operators with regular feedback on their performance and field any questions or concerns about the job, their rig, or schedule.

Focus on training and especially on finding more ways to engage younger generations entering the workforce. Site managers should prioritize safety training and provide drivers with the tools and resources they need to perform their jobs without risk. This includes training on safe driving practices, equipment operation, and emergency procedures.

Sometimes, a little bit of incentive goes a long way. Some organizations reward their drivers who maintain phenomenal safety records with bonuses, or recognition to promote a positive culture. Leaders should recognize drivers who prioritize safety and emulate company values both in the workplace and out on the road. This can include public recognition, such as a company-wide email or announcement, that ultimately helps an employee develop a deeper sense of belonging within the organization.

By linking safety and culture in the workplace, site managers can create a positive work environment that promotes driver satisfaction and retention. Drivers who feel valued and supported in their jobs are more likely to remain with a company long-term.


4. Prioritize well-being by understanding and meeting driver’s goals

By prioritizing the well-being of their drivers over profits, leaders create a positive and supportive work environment which promotes job satisfaction, engagement, and retention. This is as much about building better interpersonal relationships as it is about forming great working relationships. Site managers who understand the goals and aspirations of their employees have a better grasp on the things that will inevitably make them stay with the organization or look elsewhere.

By understanding employee goals, leaders can provide adequate support along the employee journey including training, resources, and the equipment necessary to perform a job safely and effectively. While building these types of relationships, employees develop a deeper sense of trust that their management team has their best interest in mind, especially if those leaders are proactive about addressing any concerns or issues that come up in a timely manner.

It is important to remember that a job is just that, a job, and at the end of the day an employee needs to have a reasonable enough work-life balance to actually go out and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Provide drivers with predictable schedules, adequate rest time, vacation days to spend with their families, or just be more cognizant of which driver is selected for that 2,500 mile long-haul.

For instance, if a superstar driver mentions their kid has a game or rehearsal this coming Thursday, dispatchers should avoid sending them on a multi-day trip on Wednesday if there is someone else who can do it barring no other operational challenges. Little things like this go a long way toward promoting the physical and mental health of each employee, building a community, and wellness.


5. Ensure continuous maintenance of equipment

It sounds simple, but proper maintenance of trucks and equipment provides drivers with the peace of mind that their company cares about their wellbeing and the safety of others on the road. It sends the message that no cargo is worth more than their life or risk of injury. Semi-trucks and trailers are notorious for having issues with their breaks, most often due to lack of maintenance and tight schedules keeping the trucks on the road. While this surely leads to preventable accidents, it also leaves drivers with the anxiety that comes with anticipating mechanical failures at any moment.

Ensuring continuous maintenance of equipment is critical for managers to improve truck driver retention rates. Well-maintained equipment helps drivers perform their job safely and efficiently, reducing the risk of breakdowns and delays that can impact driver satisfaction and operational costs. Site managers should develop a maintenance schedule that includes regular inspections and preventive maintenance activities. This schedule should be communicated clearly to drivers, and any necessary maintenance should be scheduled in advance to avoid disruptions to their schedules.

Train drivers on maintenance best practices, such as checking fluid levels, tire pressure, and brakes. This can help operators identify potential issues before they become serious problems. Furthermore, drivers should be able to easily report any equipment issues and get them resolved quickly.

By ensuring continuous maintenance of equipment, logistics managers can help improve satisfaction and retention rates. Drivers who feel supported and equipped to perform their job safely and efficiently are more likely to remain with a company long-term, reducing costs associated with turnover and improving overall business performance.

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5 technologies that can help reduce truck driver turnover

Technology can play a significant role in reducing truck driver turnover rates by improving driver experience, safety, and efficiency. Here are some ways technology can be used to achieve this goal:

  • Telematics: Telematics systems can be used to monitor and optimize driver performance, vehicle maintenance, and routing. By providing drivers with real-time feedback and coaching, telematics can help improve driving behavior, fuel efficiency, and safety.
  • Mobile Apps: Mobile apps can provide drivers with easy access to important information and resources, such as safety protocols, trip planning tools, and communication channels. Apps can also be used to track driver hours and automate tasks like paperwork, reducing administrative burdens and improving the driver experience.
  • Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs): ELDs can be used to track hours of service, reducing the risk of violations and penalties while ensuring that drivers are getting the rest they need.
  • In-Cab Cameras: In-cab cameras can be used to monitor driver behavior and safety, as well as provide evidence in the case of accidents or other incidents. By promoting safe driving practices and deterring unsafe behavior, in-cab cameras can help reduce accidents and improve driver satisfaction.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) Training: VR training can be used to simulate hazardous situations and provide drivers with realistic training scenarios without putting them at risk. By improving new driver training and preparedness through the onboarding experience, VR can help reduce accidents and improve overall safety.

Technology can be a powerful tool for reducing truck driver turnover rates by improving driver experience, safety, and efficiency. By investing in the right technologies, organizations can improve their retention rates, reduce costs, and boost overall business performance.

How WorkStep’s employee engagement software can help

WorkStep’s employee engagement software can help HR executives tackle supply chain challenges and reduce truck driver turnover by providing a platform for real-time communication, feedback, and recognition. Our platform provides continuous listening tools to gather insights, segment and analyze data, and generate targeted actions that go right to the source.

Take advantage of check-in or pulse surveys to keep a close eye on turnover indicators, especially within the first few months of an employee’s tenure. Metrics such as the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) act as a valuable northstar data point to measure employee satisfaction against industry standards. Additionally, features like Inform, our 1:many segmented messaging tool, allows site leaders to deliver critical updates, announcements, or news to specific populations in their workforce like truck drivers in a specific region, shift, or who work under a particular manager.

Truck driver retention is an important issue that logistics organizations need to address to improve their operations and reduce costs. By providing a better work environment for their drivers, organizations can reduce turnover rates, increase employee satisfaction and productivity, and ultimately achieve their business goals.

Explore more ways WorkStep can help your organization retain your workforce for the long-haul today.

Tom Goyette

Tom Goyette, Product Marketing Manager | tom.goyette@workstep.com

Tom Goyette is a Product Marketing Manager at WorkStep. With experience in start-up and enterprise level SaaS and eCommerce organizations, Tom excels at managing and creating content, marketing, and analytics. Tom believes people are at the center of every great organization and is eager to share stories that highlights the value of the employee voice.