Driver Turnover Factors that Influence Retention

Driver Turnover: Factors that Influence Retention

Driver turnover is a persistent challenge in the transportation industry, and pay is often considered a significant factor influencing drivers’ decisions to leave their carriers. However, while pay plays a crucial role, it is not always solely about the amount drivers receive. Inflationary challenges and reduced demand leading to fewer miles have created conditions where drivers become fixated on pay and are more susceptible to recruitment efforts from other carriers promising better wages. This article will explore the complexities of pay as a factor in driver turnover, considering various surveys and reports from industry experts.

The Importance of Pay in Attracting and Retaining Drivers:

According to CCJ’s What Drivers Want survey, a significant number of respondents expressed the desire for better pay or guaranteed compensation. Approximately 23% of company drivers and leased owner-operators stated they would raise pay if they were in charge of a fleet. Another 18% mentioned the importance of guaranteeing pay, loads, or mileage to make take-home pay more predictable. These responses indicate that pay is a key consideration for drivers when choosing a carrier or contemplating staying with their current one.

Perceptions of Pay versus Actual Concerns:

While pay ranks high among drivers’ concerns, it is worth noting that the issue itself is not necessarily among their most pressing problems. In the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) 18th annual Top Industry Issues report, pay ranked third among commercial drivers and fourth overall. This drop in ranking compared to the previous year was primarily due to the significant votes attributed to the cost of fuel. However, in CCJ’s survey, a majority of respondents (62%) mentioned that fleets don’t pay enough, making it the top reason fleets struggle to find drivers. The second most cited reason, at 56%, was a lack of respect for drivers and their profession.

Pay as a Contributing Factor, Not the Sole Reason for Driver Turnover:

WorkHound, a platform for driver feedback, analyzed critical comments received through September 2022 and found that pay was consistently the top critical theme, accounting for 20.2% of all feedback. However, only 26.6% of drivers who cited pay as a critical factor mentioned it as their sole reason for leaving. This suggests that pay, while important, is often exacerbated by other issues drivers face. Max Ferrell, CEO of WorkHound, emphasized that pay is not always solely about the amount but is influenced by other factors such as truck parking, detention, and speed limiters.

The Influence of Miles and Other Factors on Driver Pay:

Data compiled by PDA from phone calls with professional truck drivers revealed that compensation issues became the top driver concern in the fourth quarter of 2022. This marked the first time in nearly five years that an issue other than equipment topped the list. However, it is interesting to note that driver complaints about pay rates decreased by nearly 10% from Q3 to Q4, indicating that pay rates themselves might not be the primary problem. Instead, the frustration with pay stems from the lack of miles. Complaints related to mileage increased by almost 14% over the course of the year.

Factors Beyond Carriers’ Control:

Driver frustration with pay is often influenced by factors outside carriers’ control, such as equipment and logistics. Equipment-related issues extend beyond downtime and include challenges with trailer availability and tractor speed. Additionally, logistics encompass the variability of loaded miles and problems at shipper/receiver facilities. Fleets may struggle to address these issues directly, highlighting the need to focus on the elements within their control.

Addressing Driver Concerns:

To mitigate the impact of factors beyond carriers’ control, Max Ferrell suggests focusing on effective communication regarding pay plans and showing respect for drivers. WorkHound’s platform has revealed that many drivers desire to have their voices heard, emphasizing the importance of creating an open and inclusive environment within fleets. Furthermore, addressing issues like favoritism, attitude problems, and adverse treatment can contribute to driver retention.

While pay remains a significant factor in driver turnover, it is not always solely about the amount of compensation. Drivers’ fixation on pay is often a result of inflationary challenges, reduced demand, and the promise of better wages from other carriers. Pay alone does not guarantee driver satisfaction or retention. Carriers need to consider the broader range of factors influencing drivers’ experiences, including respect, communication, equipment, and logistics. By addressing these concerns and fostering an environment where drivers feel valued, fleets can improve driver retention and mitigate the impact of pay-related issues on turnover rates in the transportation industry.

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