Constantly engaging in costly driver recruitment campaigns, interviewing, and hiring new drivers can drain any company’s budget and resources. The best way to eliminate this issue is by practicing preventative maintenance with your current drivers.
Drivers are a carrier’s most important resource, and to build for success, carriers should treat them as such. If your business is routinely struggling with driver turnover, particularly in this era of the great driver shortage, you should concentrate on driver retention. Read on to learn how to enhance retention and leverage your resources to support your drivers.
Driver Shortage & Turnover Issues
Understanding how this has become a problem in the industry and all the potential issues individual drivers may be dealing with will help you fix this problem. Driver retention has always been an issue for carriers, as the stressful working conditions of the transportation industry, particularly commercial truck driving, take a toll on drivers’ physical and mental health in all sectors. Unfortunately, many of these issues have worsened in recent years, and carriers are looking for ways to cut down on the costs associated with high turnover.
Many of these issues started or became exacerbated due to Covid-19. For example, drivers got sick and had to take time off, or they got better but now have long Covid and are unable to work. Additionally, supply-chain issues and lockdowns greatly affected drivers’ ability to continue operating normally, and the Great Resignation also affected the trucking industry negatively.
The Great Resignation is not something that most businesses fully understand or grasp; because of this, they do not know how to combat it properly. The Great Resignation is not about people being lazy and no longer wanting to work. It is about people realizing life is short and not wanting to work for you any longer. This could be due to lifestyle changes (wanting to spend more time at home with family and friends) or payment issues. People in all industries realize that fair wages, good working conditions, and mental and physical health support are vital to their employment. They will go elsewhere if your company does not offer competitive, respectful, and supportive benefits.
Although the cost of hiring and training a new driver will vary by company and industry, it is high. Some companies report turnover rates as high as 90% and hiring/training costs of as much as $15,000 per driver. Keep these numbers in mind when determining how important it is to practice preventative maintenance with your current drivers.
Preventative Maintenance – Not Just for Trucks
When companies and management talk about resources, rarely, if ever, do they include people. Yet, people are some of the most important resources a company can have. Just like preventative maintenance of a truck is part of doing business, so is preventative maintenance of the people driving those trucks.
Most people in this industry know that you can usually spend between $15,000 – 20,000 yearly on maintaining a rig. This cost pales compared to replacing a truck that has not been properly maintained. Carriers have done the math, and it’s obvious that preventative maintenance is the more efficient, effective, and inexpensive option. Additionally, many carriers with high turnover rates don’t realize that as many as half of that turnover is due to medical disqualifications; most of those are from small, preventable issues related to lifestyle or stress. So, the question that needs to be asked is, why wouldn’t a company spend money on preventative maintenance of their highly trained and experienced staff?
Truck maintenance is easy to envision, but some may wonder what preventative maintenance looks like for drivers. Driving is an extremely stressful job, and it takes a physical and mental toll. Therefore, supporting your drivers’ mental and physical health is paramount in addition to competitive pay, time-off, and other common benefits. This is not just about offering insurance but also putting in place a comprehensive support system for your people to stay informed, active, and healthy. Moreover, carriers must build a culture that encourages drivers to engage with these resources and ensure they are accessible and not stigmatized.
Taking care of your people is paramount for driver retention. If you want to save money, time, and valuable resources that are wasted on driver recruitment, training, and constant turnover, start by supporting the drivers you have. This begins with physical health and mental health. Unfortunately, the mental health of workers in this industry has been ignored for a long time. If you want your company to stand above the rest, change that.
Preventative Maintenance for Retention and Recruitment
The average truck is given both preventative maintenance and necessary repairs every year. Make it a priority to do the same for your drivers. Preventative maintenance sets a healthy foundation for everything a carrier does. When an organization takes care of its people, they will return the favor. If your business views your drivers as replaceable or just another number, they feel that. If they feel they are not an important member of your company, they have no reason to stay or excel in their position.
The better you take care of your employees, the longer they stay. The people who remain the longest will be the best at their job and highly dependable. Not only that, but when you treat people right, word gets around. When you need new or additional staff, you will get the best and the brightest applying, as your company will have a stellar reputation as the kind of place people want to work for.
If you want to retain the best drivers, remember that the best drivers are the ones you have. The best drivers for your business are the ones that know your routes, your dispatchers, and your policies. To keep them on the road and avoid high turnover rates, you need to invest in comprehensive support for your drivers’ mental and physical health. So it’s a no-brainer that preventative maintenance isn’t just the most brilliant option for your rigs and the best way to retain and recruit the best drivers. As a carrier, if you’re looking for a way to cut costs, decrease time spent hiring, and keep more drivers on the road for longer, you need to practice preventative maintenance, not only on your equipment but on all resources, including especially your drivers. Unfortunately, the commercial driving industry is experiencing a driver shortage. Still, if you take the time to learn more about your staff and offer them industry-leading resources and support, you will save money, cultivate a better work environment, and set your business up for long-term success.