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Driver iQ: Few carriers have staff dedicated to driver retention

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Driver iQ’s third quarter recruitment and retention survey found that driver turnover costs the truckload industry over $10.6 billion per year, and over one-third of fleets surveyed expect turnover to increase or remain the same. Still, only 15 percent of carriers had an employee dedicated solely to driver retention.

Driver iQ provides background screenings and driver monitoring services. This survey was the latest in a series of surveys the company is conducting to better understand recruiting and retention experiences and expectations, according to the survey report.

Survey respondents were recruitment managers who operate over 75,000 trucks. The majority of the answers came from large carriers with over $100 million in gross operating revenues.

Driver iQ Co-President Lana Batts said she expects companies to begin devoting more resources to driver retention.  

“When you ask, ‘Who is responsible for driver retention?,” you get ‘Everyone is responsible.’ Well, management always tells you, if everyone is responsible, no one is responsible,” Batts said. “For example, if a driver is having an argument with someone in payroll, it’s payroll’s responsibility to try to help him out.If he’s having a problem with his truck, the maintenance guy helps him out. But the reality of it is, there’s no one to make sure that those problems have been resolved, or if they haven’t been resolved, that the driver understands why the company was not able to resolve them.”

Batts thinks companies will either begin bringing on retention directors or setting up computer systems to track driver’s problems and resolutions.

“Good management says that in order to solve a problem, someone has to be accountable,” she said. “When you have no one accountable, it’s not surprising that you have the kind of turnover we have.”

While most carriers did not report offering specific retention personnel for drivers, many did offer innovative pay packages in order to attract drivers and keep them in the fold.

“In addition to offering additional driver compensation, 60 percent of the carriers are offering scheduled pay increases, 25 percent are offering a guaranteed weekly compensation, and 30 percent are offering some type of guaranteed transition pay for new hires to make up for the lost productivity when they change jobs,” Batts said.

Incremental pay increases and training account for the largest cost of driver retention, according to the survey report.

“The industry is at least trying to figure out how to deal with the pay issue, and I thought that was very positive,” Batts said. “Some people may say, ‘Oh, it’s only 25 percent,’ but I think if I had asked this question four years ago, it would have been in the single digits.”

Carriers expect to see applications continue to flood in, but they anticipate that the quality of the average applicant will decrease. Batts attributed this to record low unemployment rates across most industries.

“While 60 percent of the carriers expect to see an increase in the number of applicants, 55 percent expect that the quality of the applications will be worse than it was last year,” she said. “Furthermore, 43 percent expect that the quality of future applications will worsen next year. As a result, 45 percent of the carriers have lowered their hiring standards.”

The survey did not ask carriers how they are making up for lower hiring standards, but Batts said a future installment may pose that question.

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Ashley Coker, Staff Writer

Ashley is interested in the opportunities and issues that arise at the intersection of law and technology. She is the primary contributor to the news site content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.