LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Want to keep your drivers from jumping over the fence to greener pastures? Pay them adequately, and on time.
That was the message at this year’s Truckload Carriers’ Association panel on driver retention and turnover.
It takes time and money to invest in a new driver. And it’s nothing short of disheartening when after weeks of training and preparing a driver for the open road, he or she changes his or his mind and is on to the next fleet.
It’s been estimated that the cost of driver turnover is between $2,200-$20,000 per driver, depending on the carrier. And according to the panelists, that’’s money that could be going directly in drivers’ pockets.
According to a recent DriverIQ survey, the number one reason for driver turnover in the industry is total compensation. Truck drivers do not feel like they are paid adequately for the work they do, so the choice to leave comes naturally.
“If you look at how we compensate drivers, it’s very unpredictable and unreliable,” Eric Fuller of US Xpress said of the industry. “Drivers don’t have the ability to budget week-to-week. And it creates a lot of issues. If you look at what we pay drivers in comparison to construction, manufacturing, or being an Uber driver. We are not paying the favorable amount of levels to attract people into the industry.”
Thomas Grojean of Hirschbach Motor Lines agreed and added it’s not surprising that compensation is the number one reason for turnover.
“If you look at LTL carriers, they’re home nightly,” he said. “They get paid well and get benefits. And they’re in the single digit turnover rates. If you look at Walmart, they stay out a big longer, but they’re paid more. And they have single digit rates. We as truckload, over the road carriers, try to pay less, and have them stay out more. It’s not a shock that turnover rates are high.”
When asked what total compensation needs to be at to impact turnover, Fuller said he believes drivers should be compensated at $100,000 a year or more.
“To bring new people in, it has to be at $100,000,” he said. I think until then, we’re turnover will continue…if you at it today, we’re competing against jobs that pay between $75,000-$90,000 and they’re home every night. So we have to pay a premium for the lifestyle they live out on the road. I think in the past the premium should have been 10-15%, but with the newer generation coming in, I think we should be closer to 20-25% over the home every single night jobs, so more people will come into trucking.”
Fuller said that drivers that have been with a carrier for a long time, generally look at total compensation packages, with bonuses, and paychecks. But from a recruiting standpoint, prospective drivers are only looking at cents per mile.
“You can say I have this bonus, and this bonus, and they don’t care,” he said. “All they want to know is what is your cents per mile…and sometimes it leads to bad decision but in order to change that, people have to understand total compensation better.”
Grojean said his company makes sure to focus on miles for that very reason.
“We really tout cents per mile at our recruiting efforts,” he said.
Fuller also made the case for guaranteed of weekly compensation, something he believes is going to spread more throughout the industry.
“I think drivers are looking for predictability,” he said. “And the more we can do from predictability standpoint…the more the drivers to know what they’re going to make and what they can budget. I think we’re going to see more of guaranteed weekly compensation.