Recruiting and Retaining Drivers for Fleets

14 Dec 2020, Posted by McPherson Oil in Industry Information

With the need for drivers growing along with the economy while more and more drivers reach retirement age and record turnover continues at many carriers, not to mention looming regulations expected to further sour veteran and prospective truckers alike on trucking, it would be nice to report there’s a silver-bullet solution to the driver shortage. There isn’t. At least not until driverless trucks become an everyday reality.

So, for now into the foreseeable future, successfully finding and keeping drivers will rest on knowing your audience and then speaking to their needs and wants. With that thought in mind, here are three key areas to focus on to help draw in more prospects and help quell churn in your operation:

Pay up
There is the value of providing, if not the highest pay, at least pay that is stable. The traditional approach – paying drivers by loaded miles driven – is certainly lucrative for very productive drivers. Yet there are factors affecting the actual hours driven that are beyond a driver’s control. As a result, many drivers end up with “lumpy pay.” That is, their earnings are often reduced by unexpected events, including bad weather, equipment breakdowns, and slowdowns during loading and unloading.

Any time they are unable to stay on the road or take on more work, drivers are effectively working for free, if not losing money. To work around this, some carriers have moved to offer “guaranteed pay” to offset those unplanned impacts on pay. Some fleets are addressing the uncertainties of driver pay by negotiating with shippers to cut wait times and/or secure detention pay for drivers to help make up for lost time.

While moving away from mileage-based pay to a fixed salary will guarantee drivers a set amount, it won’t offset the fact that many drivers won’t perform as well as others. Paying by the hour would encourage drivers to work more hours – but not necessarily work more efficiently.


Home and health
Long hours behind the wheel wear on the body, and long days and weeks away from home tax the spirit. A recent survey by HireRight found that while half of the respondents cited pay as the number­one reason drivers are leaving, that was followed closely (41 %) by their wanting more time at home. Concern about health issues (21 %) also rated high – as did better benefits (34%).

Encourage and facilitate a healthier lifestyle by providing information on exercise, eating habits, and quitting smoking. Consider providing smoking­cessation programs, exercise facilities at terminals-some carriers even install work-out gyms -and screening for sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and other medical issues that tend to afflict drivers.

Above all, strive to get drivers home as often as possible and on a regular basis. Some carriers are relaying freight to help get drivers routed home more regularly.


Expand the pool

Fleets have had trouble finding good drivers as long as there has been a trucking industry. Much of the problem was long related only to driver churn – the same pool of qualified drivers kept circulating or churning, among carriers in search of the “best” employment deal. But now the pool of drivers is shrinking even as the demand for truck capacity rises rapidly. What to do is widen the pool. The most obvious way is by recruiting more women to become truckers. It’s a large labor force to tap – it’s estimated that right now, women comprise only 5-7% of the commercial truck driving population. Recommended strategies for drawing -and keeping -more women drivers include:

Ensure recruiting ads appeal to both men and women. Women In Trucking recently highlighted ads that appealed specifically to women. The three top ads, from Walmart, Republic Services, and Prime, emphasized truck driving as a career choice.

Consider women when specifying driver features. Specs considered female-friendly, such as automated transmissions, adjusted height and placement of cab grab handles, easier access to oil and coolant checks, and adjustable foot pedal height, will appeal as well to any driver who doesn’t fit the “burly trucker” stereotype and younger adults who may never have driven a manual transmission and expect a more comfortable work environment.

Address concerns about security. This could include cab security systems, training drivers about personal security, and allowing dogs that act both as a security alert and traveling companion. Make sure your company’s sexual and gender harassment policies are enforced. Discrimination and harassment issues have resulted in high-profile legal cases against trucking companies, especially involving training programs where male trainers were teamed up with female trainees on the road.