New research shows experienced drivers less satisfied with pay in 2017

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Updated Dec 14, 2017
David Orscheln talks to a group of drivers, who can now be home every night while averaging more than 2,500 miles per week.

New research by Stay Metrics, a provider of evidence based driver engagement, training and retention solutions for motor carriers, shows a trend in the attitudes of experienced drivers towards pay that may cause more worries for carriers concerned with turnover.

Stay Metrics has published a white paper that explains the research and gives suggestions for retaining experienced drivers. Click on the image to download the white paper.Stay Metrics has published a white paper that explains the research and gives suggestions for retaining experienced drivers. Click on the image to download the white paper.

A team led by Stay Metrics Director of Research, Timothy Judge, PhD, recently examined a large sample of driver survey responses and data from carriers in 2016 and 2017, correlating the professional experience of drivers with pay satisfaction and turnover decisions.

“At Stay Metrics, we endeavor to take a scientific approach to answer important questions for the trucking industry, and rely on the research and insights we gain from working with more than 80 carriers,” said Judge, who is the executive director of the Leadership Initiative in the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

Comparing results from 2016 and 2017, the study shows that drivers with more experience (5+ years) are more dissatisfied with their pay than drivers with less experience. The effects of experience on pay dissatisfaction were not large but statistically significant.

Another finding is that experienced drivers are more likely to indicate pay as the most important factor in their decision to join a different carrier. Judge, who is the most published and cited author in top-tier journals of applied psychology and management research, notes that employee satisfaction with pay is rarely a top predictor of turnover in any industry, including trucking.

The study found that the retention advantage of experienced drivers is eroding, but the dissatisfaction with pay is not a significantly more important predictor of driver turnover from 2016 to 2017.

While experienced drivers are more likely to say they value pay, it isn’t necessarily a bigger factor in their turnover decisions.

“It is important to remember that experienced drivers care about more things than pay, and they still have retention rates significantly higher than less experienced employees,” he said.

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During the second half of 2017, the driver market has tightened amid rising freight demand and ELD rule compliance. Amid this change, a number of carriers have announced significant pay increases and sign-on bonuses with record high payouts. These and other factors have influenced the changes in driver attitudes towards pay.

“Drivers know freight rates are going up and pay raises are imminent. While carriers must stay competitive with pay, the new research highlights the opportunity for carriers to increase job satisfaction with recognition and rewards programs, and by showing greater appreciation and respect,” said Tim Hindes, chief executive officer of Stay Metrics.

Stay Metrics has published the latest research in a whitepaper, Driver Pay and Pay Satisfaction: Should We Sound the Alarm for the Experienced Driver? The whitepaper includes evidence-based strategies for retaining experienced drivers.

To obtain a free copy of the whitepaper, click here.