What if companies could reliably prevent a particular type of loss that costs them millions of dollars annually? That’s exactly what trucking companies can do with some straightforward strategies in onboarding and retaining truck drivers. Industry data and our own research and surveys have helped Strategic Programs, Inc. identify ways to improve driver retention, especially within the first year.

Truck drivers are an important component of the Midwest economy with about 460,000 people employed in this occupation today and an increased demand of up to 8.5% for this occupation predicted by 2024.*  Yet, keeping truck drivers is a perennial problem with nearly three quarters of new truck drivers leaving the profession within the first year, making it difficult to meet today’s demand for this occupation, let alone build the talent pipeline that will be needed in the future. Such turnover is expensive, costing trucking companies an average of about $3 million annually.

Driver exits are preventable 72% of the time. Employers can help stanch the flow of drivers leaving through such strategies as fleet manager training and setting clear expectations with new drivers.

The Illinois Workforce Innovation Board’s Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (TDL) Task Force looked into the truck driver shortage, and found that retention was an important component of building a healthy talent pool. To address retention, the task force identified the four most promising strategies for reducing turnover rates among truck drivers:

  1. Being more selective when hiring new drivers.
  2. Changing recruiters’ incentives so they aren’t measuring success by how many drivers they sign but by how many of the drivers they sign are retained.
  3. Creating a mentoring network of experienced drivers to guide new drivers.
  4. Training fleet managers and dispatchers to better interact and work with drivers.

Solutions addressing driver turnover, especially within that crucial first year, have proven very cost effective. One of the most effective ways to reduce driver turnover is to better develop fleet managers through extensive fleet manager training. Fleet manager training is not only a cost effective way to make sure your fleet managers and drivers are well trained but it also ensure the two roles maintain a positive and productive relationship.

Strategic Programs, Inc. offers fleet manager training, which focuses on the important role fleet managers play in driver retention and productivity.

In order to ensure a good fit with new drivers, Strategic also promotes setting expectations early on in the hiring and on-boarding process. For this, the company offers the New Drivers Expectations Exchange, which is a template questionnaire that can be used when screening or on-boarding new drivers to ensure that the potential employee understands the daily life of a truck driver.

It’s becoming clear that these strategies are certainly among the most effective for truck drivers and probably other occupations, as well.

For more tips for driver retention, read the full article, “Tips to Improve First Year Driver Turnover,”

*Data comes from research done by the Midwest Transportation Workforce Center as part of its Job Needs and Priorities Report: Phase I.

About the Author

Megan Younkin

Megan Younkin

Consultant, Strategic Programs, Inc.

Megan Younkin has over 10 years experience analyzing client-specific surveys and interpreting the results for clients in several industries. Her trucking clients range in size from 200 to more than 15,000 trucks, including dry van, refrigerated, flat bed, and tankers. She works with leadership to improve the effectiveness of company drivers, lease purchase operators, owner operators, and independent contractors. Megan has been asked to speak at transportation conventions across the country on topics such as driver retention and taking driver satisfaction data to action. With her clients, she implements various Strategic Programs assessments and surveys, analyzes the results to find data trends, make recommendations for improvement, and provide tools that help to reduce driver turnover. Megan also served on the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board’s Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (TDL) Task Force.