Driver turnover rates floating around 100% in America leave trucking companies on a constant search for truck drivers. And while there are many reasons for why truck drivers switch carriers frequently, there are a handful of best practices from outside the trucking industry that could go a long way for driver retention through the lens of employee engagement.
From banks in New York to tech giants in San Francisco, employee engagement is a hot topic. And while the turnover is not as severe in those industries the pain felt to the companies is very real and costly. In those industries, managers have an incredible amount of influence on employee happiness. A Gallup poll found that at least 75% of voluntary turnover was related to the employee's direct manager. While truck drivers may not have a direct manager in title a dispatcher is likely to have a perceived similar amount of influence. So our first best practice suggestion from other industries starts with the dispatcher.
Clearly, truck drivers do not have people reporting to them but that's not to say a similar approach could not be constructed for them. They interact with lot's of people in organizations well beyond dispatcher and these other people could be incorporated into a solid 360 review process. Nonetheless, a dispatcher is the most logical place to start with a 360 review. In a separate Gallop report, managers were found to account for 70% of variance in employee engagement. So the dispatcher should have a hand in one of the three driver reviews. The second reviewer would simply be another driver in your fleet. Not only does this allow you to encourage a community among drivers in the fleet, you get the perspective of someone who can relate to the same gripes and joys. The third reviewer is where it may get tricky but I'd look to dockworkers, lumpers, forklift operators or security guards with whom drivers may interact with on a regular basis. If that's not realistic for your organization then climb the the corporate ladder and don't stop until you get to the President. After all, it never hurts for the leadership to have an active hand in knowing the people who make the operation work at the ground level. If you're looking for additional information on 360 reviews, Betterworks put together a very solid two part blog series, you an find part one here.
Giving your employees a voice at all levels of an organization is showing incredible power within large and small companies alike. Talking directly with drivers on the phone is a solid approach with many cultural benefits but it stops short on hearing truthful responses. And anonymity is a key element to hear an honest employee voice without fear of retaliation. Survey's are another excellent way to source feedback from drivers while offering a solution for truthful responses by offering anonymity. But even still, you only hear answers to the questions you ask, and it leaves innovation and creativity off the table. By using some modern employee voice technologies such as Waggl, trust can be established with crowdsourced feedback and incredible ideas would bubble to the top of your organization as a byproduct. If you can listen to driver employee voices, you'll build trust which is decidedly linked to higher productivity and increased engagement.
Truck drivers are just like everyone else in that we're all trying to find our way through life. The support and guidance from a mentor is valuable regardless of industry, so why not offer mentorship among drivers in your fleet? Sure, an experienced driver could be paired with newer drivers but mentorship need not be so closely linked. Mentorship is more than building a career path, it's about advice and wisdom. Context and background certainly matters but there's no reason why a freight broker, dispatcher, marketing manager or even President couldn't provide additional perspective and consultation to truck drivers. So many truck drivers find themselves doing the job day in and day out with out the perspective of building a career in trucking. Frost & Sullivan found that lack of career path compounds driver dissatisfaction. By providing truck drivers with access to mentorship resources, they can develop clarity and purpose in their lives and careers.
It is no secret that many truck drivers would like to find a way to stop living OTR. But if that happens, clearly that means a truck sits idle right? Not necessarily if you rotate drivers into different roles across the organization. Drivers have extra appreciation for a recruiter, dispatcher or broker who has been a truck driver. By building a rotational program for drivers to spend time in a different role allows for many of the concerns to be mitigated with tremendous upside.
This goes hand-in-hand with a rotational program. By equipping drivers with skills unrelated to trucking, you're developing depth in your organization with your truck drivers. If a driver shadows a recruiter, dispatcher or broker, not only does it allow for some skill set redundancy to be established but it also develops a new respect and perspective for those jobs among truck drivers. It aligns with driver's desires for career growth and provides a clear path for opportunities besides driving. Lastly, it builds a culture of inclusion and people always appreciate being treated like humans and not cogs in a machine. Offering resources to cross training across your organization is a credible commitment to employee appreciation and caring by doing more than just talking about it.
Do you have any tricks learned from other industries that have worked well with truck drivers? Share your story in the comments!