Watch Now

40 years of driver retention evolution: Taking the Hire Road

Image: FreightWaves

Ray Haight, a retention coach with and former chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association, joined this week’s episode of Taking the Hire Road to discuss how driver retention challenges have evolved with host Jeremy Reymer, founder and CEO of DriverReach.

COVID-19 has made it much harder to evaluate fleet driver retention programs, according to Haight, attributing the difficulty to an overabundance of Zoom calls. He said it was easier before the pandemic to get a good sense of what’s going on by shooting the breeze with owners and senior management, in addition to visiting terminals himself.

“I can tell the culture of a company if I can talk to a couple of drivers during terminal visits,” Haight said, adding that he doesn’t pull back at all.

“I’m a trucker,” he said. “I don’t pull punches; I don’t need to at this stage in my life. I go out with the hard questions, and if I don’t get fairly quick answers or I get a lot of subjective BS with it, then I know that there’s a coming to reality that probably hasn’t happened with whoever the leadership is that I’m talking with.”

Every company is different and has its own challenges, but Haight said that each shares some commonalities, more specifically a weak commitment to a program felt companywide. He relies on a 32-question survey that he administers to both senior managers and frontline workers to uncover performance gaps, which he said the results often surprise company leaders.

“You have to have commitment. If they don’t have commitment, I can’t help them, I just can’t,” Haight said. “Unless you’ve got everybody on board or you’re prepared to kick people off the board that aren’t playing a game, it doesn’t make sense to waste my time.” He said that those not invested in a program are loyal to the past, not the future, which isn’t ideal.

However, the reality is that people do crave community, but they want to be part of something really good. Haight urges fleets to deliver a message to its drivers that truly inspires them to “ride for the brand.” 

Referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, he noted that although employment is a safety need that a fleet can provide, it doesn’t always satisfy the driver. But Haight said that employee self-actualization needs are often met by large companies that are on the same wavelength as its workforce.

“We all know people who made really good money at a job that they hate but left and are now working for less money somewhere else — on a better team with a better community and culture.”

About our sponsor

Netradyne creates solutions for real-world problems using computer vision and deep learning technologies. Its mission is to transform road and fleet safety through advanced vision technology to change the way drivers interact with the road around them, creating safer roadways in the process.

Click for more FreightWaves content by Jack Glenn.

More from Taking the Hire Road:

Peering into the future with U.S. Xpress

The tentacles of tanker trucking’s driver shortage

Tips for recruiting drivers and driver recruiters

Jack Glenn

Jack Glenn is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves and lives in Chattanooga, TN with his golden retriever, Beau. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.