Truck driver onboarding: Top 3 mistakes that trucking companies make

The experience that truck drivers have during onboarding makes or breaks their perception about your company. Make sure your roll-out helps companies

The experience that truck drivers have during onboarding makes or breaks their perception about your company. Make sure your roll-out helps companies

As you witness a new set of drivers turn up for onboarding, you're already thinking about the odds. 

Statistics reflect that, over one-third of the new truckers employed will quit in the first 90 days of the employment. A whopping 55% of the truckers will quit within 180 days.

You could be paying them right, or even the equipment that you provide them with would have no faults. But they still quit.  Quitting during this time period is directly attributed to the "soft" but critical aspects of onboarding. It's your one chance to attract, engage, delight your drivers for the long term. 

But most companies don't do this. Here are a few things that trucking companies are doing wrong:

Failure to obtain an Early-Driver feedback:

A manager’s inability to grasp a truckers’ expectations, experiences and job satisfaction right at the start, is what eventually leads to turnover. Most companies currently primarily choose ‘exit interviews’ to understand this. But, at the exit interview stage, it becomes a little too late to understand and implement what the trucker wants.

To avoid this, an early feedback from the truckers need to be acquired. Stay more connected to the drivers during those crucial days, through more comprehensive onboarding programs like the 35-day on-boarding program.  Conduct a survey once a week during the 5 weeks.

Identify the problem-prone areas, make decisions to rectify them and act on it quickly.

A feedback system works best when they are given anonymously. Encourage your truckers to give their feedbacks by promising to keep their identity anonymous.

A word of caution: This method will yield little results in the long term if their feedback is not acted upon by the management.

Ineffective training sessions

Most orientations are about re-emphasizing what truckers already know- be it on safety, on pick-up and drop-off policy, or accident procedures. When they realise that they are familiar with what you're saying, drivers stop paying attention to you..

While one cannot ignore it, one definitely does not have to start the session with it.

The three things you should do are:

  1. Intelligently mix up contents and formats to engage users during the initial training sessions. On the content side, start with teaching them things that are important for their career. The topics are arrived at by figuring out long-term goals of your truckers. With structured guidance that helps them dream of a brighter career and some hands-on training, drivers are bound to be hooked.

  2. As for format, make it interactive by including the truckers themselves in the training sessions. Encourage them to share their most interesting experience, the challenges that they have faced and how they have overcome the same. This will enhance retention as drivers begin to recall and associate a piece of raw information with a story. Where possible and necessary, use interactive technology and e-learning tools to shorten orientation and provide a more focused and engaging learning experience.

  3. Evaluation: is the most effective way to ensure that your truckers are paying attention to what they are being trained on, and a means through which they develop their knowledge on the same.

When drivers are deeply involved in this crucial phase of orientation, you can take engagement for granted.   

Not being proactive enough

Trucking companies seldom address the elephant in the room - be it for home time requests or tackling mental health issues.

  1. About home-time requests

At the time of orientation, companies actively inform recruits about the period and frequency for putting in a home-time request. What they don’t do however, is check proactively with drivers about when they want to take an off.

This is crucial, especially in the onboarding stage: Discussing a topic they’re afraid to broach upon, helps break ice quickly - it gets your drivers to trust you more and dissolve the wall of cynicism.

Make sure you capture their requests in advance and set expectations on the probability of granting it to them. This way, the drivers would feel that their requests are being respected and acknowledged, and also feel like they have some control. So, you have a win-win situation.

     2. Not dealing with mental health of truckers

Trucking is a male-dominated field with machismo at display on every turn. So, conversations about mental health tend to be dismissed. Many drivers suffer from it and these issues will not be sorted even when the truckers switch from one fleet to another

The company needs acknowledge that it is an issue and normalize it. It should actively talk about wellness and mental health and offer to help employees in times of distress - no matter where they are. Be it sleep apnea, anxiety, depression, or suicidal tendencies, the company needs to talk about it.

Offer to educate them on work-life balance in the context of trucking. Make sure that there are proper means through which the truckers can communicate with their families, or pass on an urgent message, when they are on OTR.

These are the soft nudges that should be in place right at the time of onboarding. Noticeboard helps you:

  1. Facilitate early surveys for general feedback or home-time surveys.

  2. Shatter the silence on mental health.

  3. Make training sessions effective and outcome-driven

Try Noticeboard today to fix these soft issues right away.

It maybe what makes or breaks the perception of your company. A perception, which once made, is hard to reverse at a later date.