No More Exit Interviews: Be Proactive Instead

Posted by Skye Robinson | April 18, 2016 | blog, Newsletter

April 2016 services exit signDriver retention can be a serious issue for some fleet managers. With the industry short around 35,000 drivers, keeping those drivers you do have is imperative. We have talked about tips on keeping drivers happy before, but that was advice from our point of view. This time, let’s delve into how to get your drivers’ point of view on job satisfaction and retention…

Drivers don’t decide to quit in an instant
Employers and fleet managers are often surprised when an employee unexpectedly gives their two-week notice. Usually, the employee has been unhappy at work for some time, but no one in management knows it, so the resignation seems to come out of nowhere—but it didn’t.

If management had some inkling that the employee was unhappy earlier on, before the decision to quit was made, there’s the possibility that issues could have been addressed and the employee wouldn’t ever get to the point of saying, “I quit.”

Typically, however, management doesn’t know anything is wrong because there isn’t a culture that encourages that kind of communication.

Do regular check-ins and know which drivers have issues
What can you as a fleet manager do to know when drivers have issues and might contemplate leaving? Make regular check-ins a part of your processes.

Many organizations do “exit interviews,” somehow thinking the only time to ask an employee for input is when that employee is walking out the door. Why not turn that around and seek that kind of information as part of how you manage?

For ways to open up the lines of communication between you and your drivers so you can nip problems in the bud before they become grounds for quitting, try these suggestions:

  • Be open to input and feedback when gathered as a group. For example, during meetings or training sessions, build in some time for drivers to speak up. You don’t want these opportunities to turn into gripe sessions, so manage the first couple of times carefully to keep it constructive—and don’t you as the manager get defensive. Strive to listen and address the concerns. Eventually the goal is for drivers to realize they do have a voice and that when they are heard, change happens.
  • Check in with drivers one-on-one in group settings. We know one manager who goes around the room and checks in with random employees directly during meetings. He doesn’t get to everyone in the room every time, but he will check in with five or six and then check in with another five or six during the next meeting. This shows his employees that he cares and that they are free to speak up.
  • You can also seek drivers out for some one-on-one communication. This can be a brief 10-minute check in one driver at a time, asking about how the job is going and if he or she has any concerns or issues. This is also a good time to ask about a driver’s home life, because what happens at home affects what happens at work. Plus you’ll build more trust and rapport by showing an interest in the driver’s family, not just his or her job performance.

As you open up the lines of communication, also be open (and responsive) to suggestions and complaints. When a controversial issue comes up, don’t try to defend yourself or the organization. Listen and try to see the issue through the driver’s eyes. It might be something you can calmly explain, such as why schedules or routes were changed. Or it might be something you’ll need to research, such as why a paycheck was docked. Listen and take in what the driver is saying, then work to resolve the issue if you can. Also be responsive to emails and phone calls. When a driver is reaching out to you, reach right back so they know the lines of communication are open–literally.

Additional resources for retention and communication
For additional information on driver retention and better communication skills, see these earlier articles we’ve published on these topics:

And if any of the problems have to do with truck cleanliness, call on Fleet Clean for exterior fleet washing and now interior cab cleaning too!


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