There was once a time when there were more available drivers than there were trucks. Needless to say, that time is now long, long past. The primary problem faced by shipping fleets today is the driver shortage.
There just aren't enough drivers to go around and those who do often drive turnover quickly. Large carriers face up to 90% annual driver turnover. Even with the lower 70% for smaller fleets, the cost of constant hiring can be devastating.
How do you win against these odds? You improve your odds by increasing the chances that drivers will stay with your fleet for the long haul. Today, we're taking a closer look at how to increase your driver engagement as a fleet manager and reduce the driver turnover trend.
Make Improvements Based On Feedback
Listen to your fleet. People stay in places that take on their feedback and make improvements based on their ideas. In fact, nothing makes a person feel more invested in a job than to have helped build it. When your drivers come to you with problems, solutions, or inventions, don't just listen. Implement the best ideas that come through the fleet or even ask your team to vote on which ideas they think would improve operations. You can try suggestions monthly or biannually. Just letting a driver know you've sent their idea for better navigation or vehicle design up the chain can make that person feel heard and valued.
On a team level, taking on driver feedback and implementing those changes can also help make your fleet a 'good fit' for the team you have right now. A good fit can mean satisfaction, engagement, and longer stays.
Create a Shared Team Camaraderie and Purpose
Build your team based on a shared sense of purpose. Create a company culture that really values what you are transporting or the way you transport and get everyone onboard. Having a team goal that your drivers can be passionate about transforms an every-day route into a daily mission. Everyone feels more motivated when they have a goal, especially a goal that they share and are working on with others.
Examples of purpose for a commercial fleet:
- Making life easier for clients with fast, reliable, and well-communicated deliveries
- Keeping families safe with swift, expert home services
- Providing service at the competitive edge
- Creating travel experiences
- Making special events perfect with reliable, on-time delivery
Create an Environment of Trust and Data-Backed Results
Micromanaging has been a potential downside of fleet management with the evolution of telematics and dashboard software. Drivers need to be confident and independently capable on the road, which means feeling trusted. At the same time, you still need all that data to optimize routes and provide HQ support. The ideal balance is to impress on your drivers that they are each captain of their vehicles and representatives of the company. Their performance is trusted, and they should hold themselves to the highest standards.
At the same time, you can continue to track each vehicle and driver's performance with the aim of optimizing them together.
Work Together to Cover Routes and Solve Problems
When there's an issue in operation, let your drivers contribute and form solutions. If you're short a driver, your drivers likely have valuable insight on whose schedule and route can best help cover the gap. If the in-vehicle tech could be improved, your drivers are the most experienced with both current performance and what might improve their operational efficiency in the cockpit.
Work together with your drivers on solutions and they will be more dedicated in implementing each one.
Ensure that Every Driver Feels Appreciated
Finally, make sure drivers feel like they are appreciated. From logistics to hospitality, there is often the lingering sentiment that drivers are an extension of the car and even more replaceable. Today, this simply isn't true - but drivers still often feel as if they are not valued. This is a lingering holdover element from a previous age. Drivers today are more valuable and harder to replace than their vehicles. Vehicles don't need years of experience, hand-eye coordination, and flawless judgment on the road.
Don' just say that every driver is valued. Make sure that each driver feels appreciated and as if there is room for personal growth in the role. Ensure that there is.
Keeping drivers for more than a year or two has become an intense challenge for fleets big and small. However, with a new, more human approach to driver engagement, you can help create an environment where drivers can improve their routine, feel valued, and can grow as professionals in the role.
Wilmar Inc. has worked with hundreds of commercial fleets. For more fleet management insights and services, contact us today.