Wednesday, 11 November 2020 16:44

Trucker Turnover - Why Employers Are Losing Their Drivers

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Employee retention is difficult in a number of fields and trucking is no exception. Many smaller trucking companies have a turnover rate above 80%, and this number increases with larger businesses that hire more truck drivers, peaking with a historic streak of over 100% in 2015. This is certainly problematic, as high turnover is usually indicative of serious problems in any industry and it tends to cost businesses more than having a stable roster of employees over time. There are a number of complex factors working together that have caused this problem, but most are related to the lack of opportunity, potential for advancement, and minimal investment into truck drivers by their employers. In other words, employers may need to start treating their drivers better and giving them more incentives to stay.

Why do they leave?

Some of the main reasons truckers leave their current position include looking for better pay elsewhere and being able to spend more time at home with their families. This is no surprise considering that truck driving is viewed by many as a job with long hours on the road away from a stable environment. All kinds of driving jobs have historically been viewed as low paying, and this causes many drivers to see the companies that hire them as interchangeable.

Poor health

Health concerns are a significant source of employee turnover and other issues in trucking jobs. Drivers who work as independent contractors generally do not receive health insurance, and many do not make enough to pay for insurance privately out of their own wages. Driving is also dangerous and accidents on the road are a significant source of injuries and death for all people, while these numbers tend to be exacerbated in the trucking community due to long hours and exposure on the roads for extended periods of time. Finally, the stress of constantly driving and maintaining odd sleeping patterns can tend to decrease immunity and lead to drivers catching various illnesses more easily than people who work in other jobs.

An aging workforce

An issue related to these unfavorable conditions is that the truckers who stay in the field are getting older on average, and younger workers would rather start a career in something that is seen as more lucrative and stable. As some of these drivers begin to retire or leave their driving careers permanently, there may not necessarily be a lot of people entering the field to replace them. Almost one third of truckers who have recently left their jobs said that they were doing so to retire. 

Is there anything employers can do?

There are some ways that drivers can be persuaded to stay on the job. Lack of a benefits package, along with things related to employee treatment and company culture are serious sources of concern for drivers. However, these are issues that their employers can actually change. A driver who has access to things like health insurance, a 401k, paid time off, room to grow, and feels that their job is stable is going to be more likely to treat the job like a serious career.

Investment in training

There is some data that shows truck drivers have either been inadequately trained or do not receive enough continued training and education related to their jobs as they face new challenges. This lack of proper knowledge and training essentially starts a chain reaction where drivers will start to view their jobs in an unfavorable light and start looking for other employment. Some trucking companies have been poorly reviewed by their employees for essentially only giving guidance when an employee makes a mistake. Tactics such as individual mentors, or systems that set goals and track an employee's progress may help with retention. The transportation industry is also regulated more than many other professions and subject to constant change, meaning that truckers should actually be receiving more continuing education than employees on most other jobs. Investment in this area will also help fix the common complaint by truckers that their job feels like a dead end with no opportunity for advancement.

Better Management

This is true in trucking as well as almost every other profession. Many companies simply assume that management always has the best interests of their subordinates in mind and gives them proper guidance. However, truckers often leave their jobs because of their immediate supervisor or other problems with staff members who give them orders and assignments.

Keep vehicles and equipment functioning properly

When a driver has mechanical problems or their truck breaks down on the road, that lost time also translates into lost money or missed deadlines. Businesses can update their fleets and have routine maintenance scheduled to minimize the possibility of a truck giving the driver unexpected problems.

Summary of the employee experience

At the end of the day, drivers want to feel like their employers actually care about them, want to invest in their success, and value that fact that they may need some downtime away from the job. Drivers work long hours for low pay, often in isolation in strange areas. Their job certainly is not easy, and having an uncaring supervisor or parent company can easily push them towards quitting.

These points are significant for management within any profession to notice, and this is especially true now that demand for truckers is high and drivers can easily find employment elsewhere. Ultimately, the industry may need to adapt to be more employee focused rather than seeing drivers as a means to an end without considering their individual needs.

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 November 2020 16:45