Fact: You can’t grow your company if you don’t have enough drivers, and you can’t have enough drivers if your turnover is too high. We’re already facing a driver shortage, one that is only going to get worse. You have to keep the drivers you do have. Period. How? Take a good, hard look at why your drivers are leaving and determine if some fleet manager training is in order.
We need more truck drivers
According to the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry will need to hire a total 890,000 new drivers over the next decade. That’s 89,000 drivers per year, and over 243 per day. Replacing retiring truck drivers will drive almost half of new driver hires at 45%. The second largest factor will be industry growth, which will account for 33%.
With that many new hires needed, it’s imperative that you reduce the turnover at your own organization and strive to retain the drivers you already have. You’ll be working hard enough to attract new ones. Strive to minimize the number of new drivers you’ll need.
Why truck drivers leave: It’s not what you think
Drivers do age out. A big reason for the ongoing shortage is simply that older drivers are retiring and new ones aren’t showing up to replace them.
Last month, we addressed 10 reasons why truck drivers quit, and what you can do about them. Although you might guess pay is the number one reason, it’s only one of many reasons for dissatisfied drivers. Other reasons are less concrete, and have much more to do with how management treats drivers than how many dollars are on a paycheck.
A case study about a transportation company trying to understand the driver churn illustrates that drivers also leave because of respect and trust issues, poor management and leadership, and poor communication.
Fleet managers need soft skills too
In last month’s post, we talked about changing the company culture to create a better workplace for the drivers. Now let’s go a little deeper: Maybe the answer lies in fleet manager training to improve leadership, communication and trust.
We don’t mean the usual fleet manager training on topics like operational management and safety. Rather we’re talking about soft skills—skills required to successfully manage in any workplace, but maybe more so in a work environment that sends employees offsite and away from home in order to do their jobs.
Soft skills are “…the personality traits, attitudes, habits, and behaviors you display when working with others.” What, exactly, your fleet managers might learn about soft skills will depend on the resource you use to get the training, but in general they are the non-technical skills needed to successfully manage, skills like time management, communication, flexibility and dependability—not the skills typically required for fleet manager training or certification.
If you’re not convinced fleet manager training is what’s needed, maybe contact a company that offers management training and learn more about what they do before completely giving up on the idea.
Why do your drivers leave?
If you want to learn more about why your drivers leave (or might want to leave), you can conduct exit interviews, although we suggest proactively asking these questions before drivers turn in their notice. Start asking questions of your own drivers to see what is or isn’t working in your organization, so you can fix the issues, retain the drivers you have, and not go into competition with all of the other organizations that will try to be hiring 243+ drivers per day!
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