Here's how top trucking firms are fighting attrition

 To fight attrition, one needs to take decisive steps towards it - Firms such as Schneider and Boyd Bros are among the few who have been at the forefront of it. 

To fight attrition, one needs to take decisive steps towards it - Firms such as Schneider and Boyd Bros are among the few who have been at the forefront of it. 

Reducing driver attrition continues to be the single biggest hurdle for major trucking firms for the better part of the last decade. The ATA is claiming that on average, the industry will need to generate 96,178 new drivers every year. As every company is different, so is each truck driver and his/her reasons for leaving. Therefore, it is up to each company to find their own way to deal with this recurring issue. Every company has a different method to tackle this problem with varying results.  If you're looking for inspiration, here are three firms that have taken definitive steps in this direction:

Schneider’s goes to the root cause of the problem  

1) Understanding driver personality:

By launching a 3-year study in 2006, Schneider started analyzing certain personality attributes of its truck driver personnel that included, but was not limited to risk aversion and patience. With over 1,000 participants, the main goal of this study was to understand the factors that affect the stability and safety of truck drivers. Its efforts are laudable because they're approaching the problem from first principles - instead of trying out a rote method, they're trying to get to the root cause of the problem. 

2) Onboarding

This part was about encouraging peer-to-peer relationships because people tend to commit to their coworkers long before they commit to the company itself.  Schneider introduced a program in which every new driver was assigned to their respective regional retention managers. These managers regularly stayed in touch with the new truck driver force throughout their training until they were assigned to their first solo driving position.

3) Eliminating anxiety-inducing scenarios

The company implemented strategic layouts like assigning loads to the truckers based on their experience, automatic transmissions, and simulation-based training to help reduce anxiety among new drivers. 

Also, the company started offering a minimum pay - so that drivers are not stressed about being paid by the mile and a variable compensation that comes from it. 

4) Creating a positive perception about the company and peers. 

Schneider encouraged people to look for positive behavior and recognize it verbally, with notes or e-mails, and at periodic driver appreciation events. It was also trying to give a firm commitment to drivers on their home-time by actively addressing the three variables:  frequency, predictability and duration of home-time.

Speaking of their efforts, Dan Osterberg, vice president of capacity development at Schneider National said there is no silver bullet to fighting turnover. "We need to redefine expectations within our industry about what is acceptable relative to retention. The work we ask our driver associates to perform must be reasonable by responsible standards, vetted against what we would be willing to do in a similar situation," he said in an interview. 

Boyd Bros. Transportation standardises practices for all truck managers

1)  Set up processes for a uniform experience

With a focus towards uniformity amongst truck driver managers, Boyd created a list of best practices for all their driver-managers based on the input from their two best managers. Essentially, rather than having 5 different managers do one thing in 5 different ways, each manager across all of their branches now was doing things in the exact same way. 

Boyd believed that once turnover is reduced throughout the company by creating a good working environment, you end up constructing a knowledge-based system that can take care of any situation. 

2) Onboarding

While hiring new drivers, the drivers and their assigned managers were supposed to sit down during the orientation as per a new compliance by the company. This opportunity was used to understand the needs of the driver and the company in a better way. Discussing expectations when it came to time away from home, communications, safety, etc. helped new truckers.

3) Technology efficiencies

The corporation targets at increasing efficiency of drivers and deliverables by using technology in ways such as email settlements, E-ZPass, PrePass, fuel optimisation systems and TripPack scanning. For owner-operators in particular, who also are a part of Boyd, they have introduced bookkeeping assistance from the Corporate Chaplains of America, who offer 24/7 counseling for truck drivers or their families.

4) Stability at job

The operations management department at Boyd, work closely with its safety and recruitment departments. This is to avoid drivers from being misled about the jobs that they are applying for due to faulty recruitment practices. This way, Boyd has a chance to market its company in the right way, and prospective employees end up walking into the door with an accurate idea about how much they will be paid or how much home time they will be getting. By doing so, they have done a good job of portraying truck drivers as potential professional employees.

Strategic Program Inc. uses its human resources acumen to understand driver

Strategic Programs Inc. (SP) is a human resource research firm that analyses individuals, teams, and organizations. Since they have a lot of clients in the trucking industry, they released a statement on how companies need to assess their organizations and figure out the reason for their high attrition rates. 

1) Exit interviews by third-party

Holding the belief that one of the most effective ways to fight turnover is to figure out why drivers are leaving their jobs, the company  focuses on exit interviews. They found out that it is more impactful if the interview is done by a third-party who does not belong to the company. Employees tend to be more open when confiding in someone outside the company. This is what Strategic Programs Inc. ventured on.

All research methods are to be well-planned and professional, whether they consist of face-to-face interviews or written questionnaires.

2) Customize driver experience by surveys:

It's possible that some drivers want more miles while others want more home-time. It's upto the driver manager to take that call. The easiest way to do that is to design surveys that are robust enough to glean insights from different driver demographies, says the company in an interview

While face-to-face interviews or written questionnaires can be done, they should be professional and well planned. Questions should follow the same format, else it becomes hard to quantify responses. 

Questions should be specific and should be asked in fairly rapid succession., so that there is no filter applied at the time of answering. 


If you're looking to implement similar ways to engage with your workforce, then you should try Noticeboard.

Why?

You can apply the same principles that these companies have, to onboard, train, and build relationships with your drivers - at scale. Plus, you can piggyback on the expertise of our content team to custom create content and surveys that suit your drivers' need.  

To see it for yourself, register for a demo today: