Aiming for retention: keeping drivers engaged

CCJ Digital

May 23, 2017

As would be expected, driver recruiting and retention strategies are often built on three pillars: home time, respect and pay. A number of products and services are geared up to help fleets deliver more value to their drivers in these facets of their workspace.   Earlier this year, management at R.E. Garrison Trucking, a 700-truck refrigerated carrier based in Vinemont, Ala., discussed the possibility of equipping its trucks with satellite TV service as a way to boost recruiting efforts, says Shawn Nelson, the company’s director of driver relations.   R.E. Garrison already pays drivers a higher per-mile rate than competitors. Management was therefore not convinced that a premium DIRECTV package from EpicVue would make enough difference to justify the cost, he says.   That frame of thinking changed when one of its driver teams — the most difficult type of driver to recruit — unexpectedly quit to work for a company in Georgia that pays $0.03 less per mile.   The team drivers told Nelson they wanted to come back but their new company had satellite TV.   “We started looking at (EpicVue) as a retention tool,” Nelson says.   To equip its entire 700-truck fleet, the monthly cost for the EpicVue subscription would be approximately the same as what it costs R.E. Garrison to hire a few drivers to replace those that might otherwise leave, says Nelson, who estimates its hiring costs are $6,500 per driver.   “The cost for EpicVue is very nominal when you start adding it up,” Nelson says. “If we save two or three drivers a year the system pays for itself.”   R.E. Garrison will be installing the service in all new trucks going forward.   “We are trying to get it in every one of them,” he says. “We want to make it as comfortable as possible for drivers.”   R.E. Garrison uses a new in-motion satellite service from EpicVue that allows the non-driving team partners to watch live TV in the sleeper bunk and to record shows for later viewing, while the vehicle is moving.  

Survey platform

  Driver surveys are another tool fleets use to improve retention. Taking a survey may not be inherently satisfying, but the opportunity to provide feedback can be a rewarding experience for drivers if they know management sincerely wants to improve, experts say.   Stay Metrics administers 7-day orientation and 45-day onboarding surveys for its motor carrier clients. The surveys gather responses to questions in areas that predict early driver turnover such as mismatched job expectations.   Providing feedback helps drivers feel engaged, and those who do not respond to surveys signal a lack of engagement and are much more likely to quit. Tim Hindes, chief executive officer of Stay Metrics, says drivers who do not take their fleets’ 7-and 45-day surveys are 48 percent more likely to leave.   Stay Metrics can quickly identify drivers that do not take surveys and send an alert to fleet managers. Hindes recommends calling these drivers right away to prevent early turnover.   Stay Metrics administers a retention platform for its clients that includes online driver rewards, recognition and training. The company also provides ongoing reporting and analysis to identify the root causes of turnover.   CarriersEdge recently added a survey tool to its online driver training platform. The company has been using the same survey tool to administer the Best Fleets to Drive For program for the Truckload Carriers Association.   Fleets that use the CarriersEdge training platform can create surveys for drivers to complete after taking a safety training module. Surveys could also be delivered through the CarriersEdge mobile app for drivers or sent to their personal or work email accounts, says Jane Jazrawy, chief executive officer of CarriersEdge.  

Pay trends

  As part of administering the Best Fleets to Drive For program, CarriersEdge identifies strategies and trends among the top performers for driver retention and satisfaction. Making pay more predictable has been one area of focus for fleets, she says.   Jazrawy sees more use of guaranteed driver pay programs to prevent uncontrollable circumstances like traffic congestion and equipment breakdowns from causing variance in driver pay. Of the Top 20 fleets recognized in 2017, 44 percent had weekly minimum pay guarantees, she says.   Top carriers also give drivers access to pay information on a daily or weekly basis. Additionally, some provide detailed performance scorecards and human resource data.   Drivers that work for carriers with transparent pay and human resource information frequently use the word “honesty” in the surveys to describe their work experience, she says. Given the intensity of the driver recruiting and retention battle, that may be best feedback a carrier can hope to attain.   View original article here.
Nussbaum Transportation and Prime Inc., were named the Best Overall Fleet in their respective categories in the Truckload Carriers Associations’ 2019 Best Fleets to Drive For Contest.   Hudson, Illinois-based Nussbaum took top honors in the small carrier category and Springfield, Missouri-based Prime received the honor for the large carrier category. Prime and Nussbaum have both been named to the Best Fleets Top 20 multiple times, but are winning the overall award for the first time.   Nussbaum operates a fleet of 400 tractors, combining both high- and low-tech solutions to create a balance across its programs. The company scored high in several categories including having an industry leading scorecard and mobile app, a simple, effective driver outreach schedule and a formal career path and certification program.   Prime’s fleet includes 7,200 tractors, but was noted for maintaining a personal touch despite it’s size. The company hosts a variety of committees, social groups and educational offerings, providing contractors with a range of options for personal and professional development. New for this year, the company implemented a new program in partnership with Missouri Good Dads, to help drivers build and strengthen family connections while away on the road.   Both companies were also noted for their safety and retention numbers as well as satisfaction scores well above 90%.   “For several years, these fleets have been catching our eye with their range of creative programs,” said Jane Jazrawy, CarriersEdge chief executive officer. “Each year they continue to expand on those offerings, so it’s easy to see why their drivers speak so highly of them, and why they’re achieving such stellar results.”   Best Fleets to Drive For is an annual survey, now in its 11th year, that recognizes North American for-hire trucking companies that provide the best workplace experience for their drivers. To participate, fleets must be nominated by a company driver or independent contractor working with them, after which they are evaluated across a broad range of categories reflecting current best practices in human resources.   From the nominated fleets, the top 20 finishers are identified as the Best Fleets to Drive For and are then categorized according to size. The highest scoring fleet in each category is named the overall winner.   The Best Fleets to Drive For survey and contest is open to any fleet operating 10 or more trucks, regardless of TCA membership status. Nominated fleets are evaluated in areas such as: Driver compensation, pension and benefits, professional development, driver and community support, and safety record. The award is offered in partnership with CarriersEdge and is co-sponsored by DMC Insurance and EpicVue.   “Year after year, the overall winners are truly changing the game,” said John Lyboldt, TCA president. “It’s imperative that fleets establish driver-centric offerings which attract and retain a skilled workforce, while establishing programs that improve the work-life balance for their employees. Prime Inc. and Nussbaum Transportation have done just that. Congratulations to both winners on this well-deserved honor.”