It’s no secret that new drivers are likely to quit within the first 90 days. The same trend holds true in other professions, but the results are more dramatic among truck drivers.
To research early driver turnover, CCJ conducted a survey of 423 fleet management subscribers this month. Sixty eight percent of the respondents operate a fleet of no more than 100 power units.
Smaller carriers generally have a lower turnover rate than larger companies, but the results show early driver turnover is a significant area of concern.
About 18 percent of all fleets in the survey are losing between 25 and 50 percent of new drivers in the first 90 days. Sixty one percent say they have less than 25 percent turnover in the first 90 days and 19 percent generally have no turnover in that period.
To reduce early driver turnover, fleets are primarily focused on managing job expectations and helping drivers adapt to a new culture. Forty percent of fleet managers say mismatched job expectations is the main reason drivers quit, followed by 27 percent who say early turnover is primarily a result of new drivers not fitting into their culture.
More than 45 percent of respondents say they made significant changes to their onboarding process within the last year to reduce early turnover. The strategies that have made the biggest difference are shown below:
Driver relationship management
Just as businesses of all types use customer relationship management (CRM) systems to plan and execute sales and marketing campaigns, some fleets are now using software to manage driver communications, especially during the onboarding period.
EBE Technologies is in the process of adding a driver relationship management system (DRMS) as another option for its SHIPS driver lifecycle platform. The platform has different modules designed to automate workflow in driver recruiting, safety, compliance, payroll, scorecards and more.
Fleets can use its new DRMS to set up automated communication plans for various “touch points” with drivers during the onboarding period, says Cindy Nelson, vice president of business development for EBE. For example, automatic notifications can be sent, on a scheduled basis, to human resources, maintenance, payroll and other departments to hold them accountable for contacting drivers and making sure their needs are met.
The DRMS can also be used to distribute online surveys to drivers and view the results.
“All of that data is collected in a real-time fashion to create charts, graphs and to identify trends,” Nelson says.
WorkHound offers a cloud-based application that automatically collects and aggregates driver feedback data, anonymously. Text messages can be sent to drivers’ personal devices on a schedule, such as once per week. The message asks how they are feeling about their job, and why.
“We leave it open-ended because we want to drive ‘bottom up’ engagement,” says Max Farrell, co-founder of WorkHound. As soon as drivers respond to the message, the results and trends are presented to fleet managers through an online portal.
When a driver shares a comment that shows a “high risk” of leaving, the system will request permission to break anonymity. Once the driver consents, an instant notification is sent to the fleet manager.
Farrell says that WorkHound is currently exploring ways to increase its focus around driver onboarding.
CDL Helpers has a cloud-based Fleet Relationship Management system that keeps a rolling log of driver interactions with management and other office staff. The system helps to ensure that driver interactions follow a consistent – and unique – process for each carrier, says Tucker Robeson, chief executive officer.
As conflicts with drivers are entered in the system – such as a driver being frustrated with a dispatcher – the system is able to determine the risk of certain types of conflict. As an example, the system could send a notification to a fleet manager that a pay dispute has to be resolved within three days before it escalates and causes turnover, he says.
Ongoing training is known to be an effective driver retention strategy, as shown by the CCJ survey results. On that point, drivers appear to agree. A survey of more than 4,500 drivers last year for the Best Fleets to Drive For contest showed that 89 percent agreed with the statement: “ongoing training is very important for drivers to succeed.”
Some fleets are finding added success by making driver training a financially rewarding experience.
About six months ago, Stay Metrics launched a new series of interactive driver training modules that focus on safety and driver health and wellness topics. Every month new modules are added to the online driver rewards platform it manages for clients.
As a hazardous materials hauler, Liquid used to conduct training on site using paper handouts. It has since converted all of its training to online courses that drivers access from within the Stay Metrics platform.
More than 80 percent of drivers log into the rewards site regularly to check on the points they are awarded for maintaining clean logbooks, for work anniversaries, birthdays, customer compliments and in other categories, he says.
Drivers also earn points for watching training videos, taking exams and completing other tasks using personal computers, tablets and mobile devices. The website automatically keeps a record of what they have completed. They redeem their points on a large selection of consumer items.
“A lot of times, drivers who come to work for us have never experienced a program where they are rewarded for training,” he says.
The training from Stay Metrics is developed by Luma, headquartered in South Bend, Ind. Each of the training modules is no more than two minutes long with a combination of video, text, audio, animation and interactive game elements, such as point-and-click and drag-and-drop features.
Luma gathers feedback and web analytical data from drivers to constantly improve the modules and create new training topics based on driver requests.
“We want the user experience to be pleasurable,” says Scott Anderson, chief operating officer of Luma. “We really connect with the learner to make it their learning experience.”
Structure is also critical to make online learning successful, adds Jane Jazrawy, chief executive of CarriersEdge. The company’s training modules and learning management system make it easy to assign drivers training content and track their progress, she says. CarriersEdge training also has interactive learning that helps drivers be engaged.
“It is not a passive experience,” she says.
While there are no easy solutions for early driver turnover, fleets are seeing results from using new technologies to improve the orientation and onboarding experience for drivers.