MISSISSAUGA, ON – Wowing your drivers is the key to keeping them, according to industry human resources experts.
Tim Hindes, CEO for Stay Metrics, and Tracy Clayson, managing partner for In Transit Personnel, spoke to an audience looking for clues to relieving tight labor conditions at the Surface Transportation Summit, Wednesday.
Clayson emphasized that companies looking to recruit the best drivers and retain them should start trying to keep them from the very first meeting.
How we hire drivers, how we give them orientation, how we explain the company’s processes is really key, she said.
Hindes agreed saying that folding employees into the company culture shouldn’t be left to chance, managers should actively socialize employees starting with their hire.
“What do you do to really make sure that person fits in and they’re welcomed?” he asked. “We threw socialization out the window for drivers about 20 year ago, and we’re paying the price now.”
Clayson and Hindes said the socialization process in the industry is horrible, but when drivers were asked why they were leaving a company in exit interviews, the feeling of being disconnected was a significant reason. Drivers also said the difference between the job as described by the recruiter and their lived, daily experience was often a factor in their leaving a company.
Stay Metrics conducts exit interviews as part of their services. Combining that with other data collected, Hindes says they were able to determine that of the drivers who leave a company early, 33% will leave in the first three months, and 55% will leave in the first six months on a job. Of those, many leave to go to another trucking company, indicating it is not the industry, but the company culture that has a significant effect on employee retention.
“We really believe you should have a recognition and rewards program,” said Hindes, noting that loyalty rewards work in an employment environment as well as they work in a retail environment, and make employees feel valued.
Carving a path for future employees is something else employers should be keeping in mind, said Clayson.
Employers should be engaging with their current employees to find out what’s important to them, and what they would like to see in their work environment, not only to retain the employees they have, but to make themselves more attractive to potential workers.
Things she hears that are on drivers’ wish lists include trucks with an automated transmission, more time at home with their family, and understanding from employers about taking on a side job.
A lot of drivers have side gigs, which speaks to the challenges the industry has with pay, Clayson said.
Hindes said drivers were warming up to telematics systems and Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), and no longer see having the devices as a deterrent to working for a company.
“Three-and-a-half years ago drivers were leaving carriers with ELDs for those without ELDs,” he said. “We don’t see that anymore.”
Clayson and Hindes said instead of seeing technological additions as a deterrent, employers should sell them to employees as an attraction. Employers should ask drivers which technologies they would like to see added to their trucks, remind them things like drivecams and sensors are there for their safety, and even use them for rewards.
Hinds says companies that use in-cab sensors and drivecams to reward positive behaviors drivers are ‘caught’ doing, have both a better reaction to the technology and a better chance at retaining the employee.