Fleet managers are increasingly having to deal with the many challenges that come from persistent driver turnover. This common issue sets a fleet back both financially and productivity-wise, and can continue to deflate existing driver morale. In fact, this year, driver turnover for large over-the-road fleets is at an all-time high — 90%. But the good news is that any fleet manager can take active steps to engage drivers and retain them. To get started, let’s take a look at what successful fleets are doing to keep their drivers happy and committed.

Communication:

Treating drivers as colleagues who share a common vision is an effective way to not only express your gratitude and appreciation, but remind drivers how large of a role they play in the fleet’s operations. Taking the time to build a genuine and personal connection with drivers and utilizing a positive, people-centric approach lets them know that their wellbeing is valued just as much as their performance. When drivers feel this sort of engagement, they are more likely to take pride in their work and are more willing to rally around the goals you set for the fleet. 

Like any employee in any industry, drivers want their voices to be heard — make sure that you’re actively listening to the challenges that drivers feel they face. For example, Mercer Transportation found that a common problem among drivers was a lack of time to spend with family. In order to alleviate this issue, Mercer implemented a mentoring program in which drivers and mentors could share knowledge and training practices. The aim was not only to increase fleet communication, but to provide drivers with the adequate training they need to be able to spend their off-time focused on their families. Dale Corum, operations manager at Mercer, says: “If the drivers feel like we’re trying, that we heard their voice, that means a lot.” When fleet managers not only pay attention to what’s ailing their drivers, but respond with actionable solutions, drivers know that they’re in good hands.

The respect that’s bred through this sort of strong communication is a proven way to retain drivers. With a general 2% turnover rate and roster of 30-year-plus driving veterans, Praxair can attest to this value. The company makes an effort to improve work-life balance by modifying work schedules, and places a strong emphasis on respect for its drivers. “Treat drivers as more than just a person holding the steering wheel,” Jim Dimech, associate director of transportation of Praxair Canada says. Because drivers have one of the hardest jobs at the company, Praxair values them “from top to bottom.”

After empowering its drivers to speak candidly about their issues during town hall meetings, Praxair implemented a Planner/Driver Engagement Code which laid out working conditions for both planners and drivers, and how they engage with one another. The result showed that both parties wanted the same thing — to be respected and have ideas heard. By including drivers in internal communications, a mutual respect can emerge and significantly strengthen an entire fleet.

Performance Recognition:

Recognizing drivers for their performances is a proven way to both engage and retain drivers. CFI, a truckload fleet based in Missouri, offers an “Experienced Driver” compensation package that rewards professional drivers who have over one year of experience. The package allows drivers to earn 40 cents per mile, and in addition, drivers can earn an increased rate of 1 to 5 cents per mile. This unique package is also offered to military veterans with similar driving experience.

Taking a more strategic approach to bonuses, such as rewarding drivers for boosting fuel mileage, can be a highly effective way to increase performance, save money on fuel, and retain drivers. A creative rewards program incentivizes drivers to work hard and to do their job as efficiently and safely as possible. Not only that, rewarding drivers for optimal performance gives them something to strive for. By earning benefits through hard work, drivers gain a meaningful sense of purpose. The reward becomes something so much more than just a monetary bonus.

True Fuel® is the tool that will measure driver fuel performance accurately and fairly, so that drivers can know exactly where and how they need to improve — and so fleet managers can implement a performance-based rewards program. This incredible system scores drivers the fair way, only for the fuel consumption factors they control, and provides in-cab guidance to optimize performance in real-time. With True Fuel®, both drivers and fleet managers can rally around the same goals. This ultimately increases engagement and critically helps to maintain fleet retention.

When drivers know that they’re both valued and respected through strong communication and a performance-based rewards program, they stand a much better chance of having an emotional connection to their job and their fleet. Keeping drivers engaged doesn’t just mean allotting monetary bonuses — it means treating them as partners with a shared mission. The most successful fleets retain their drivers by keeping them happy, but their strategies are no secret. Any fleet can achieve this level of success, and True Fuel® will help get you there.