Wes Mays's picture

Sep 14, 2016


Wes Mays, PE

Director, Product Innovation

The reasons drivers are giving for leaving fleets and the industry are very similar to why any employee changes jobs: Pay. Respect. Problems with a supervisor. Time away from home. Lack of communication. Bad equipment. No opportunities for advancement. Or the job just isn’t what was expected. But if you look deeper you’ll see that drivers may be saying those are the reasons, but what’s causing them to leave is much more specific to the trucking industry. Their dissatisfaction is based on a lack respect for drivers and inefficient operations that can cut into the amount they can earn and the time they can spend with family.

These issues are out of the control of the driver, and that drives them away. The good news is that there are solutions for each of them.

Drivers deserve respect

For example, one of the things that makes drivers crazy is a change in their schedule after they are on the road. Perhaps the driver planned on catching her son’s little league baseball game or his daughter’s band concert. Now they are told that they have to divert to pick up another load and won’t be home for another three days. The solution for that is a better method of scheduling drivers so that their personal time is respected.

We hear stories about driver respect, but it goes a lot further than just respecting their time. Respect has to come from their company, their dispatcher, their company management, and the customers they are delivering to. One really revealing story is how some shippers will not let the drivers use the restroom facilities when they reach their destination. That’s disrespectful and unfair.

The common recurring topic that every driver mentions is pay. However, when you drill deeper into the pay issue, it’s not about the rate per mile but the inability of the driver to maximize his drive time. Waiting to be loaded. Waiting to be unloaded. Waiting in traffic. Waiting on dispatch. Filling out paperwork. Hours of service limitations. Each of these items keeps drivers from driving and earning their best pay.

Connectivity improves happiness, retention

In almost every case, connectivity can help solve each of these issues. However, telematics is not going to be the sole solution, either. Connectivity is the method, the way, to be informed, to be up-to-date; and to be part of the bigger team rather than just a lone operator out in the middle of nowhere. Connectivity facilitates cultural improvements within a fleet, and it’s those cultural improvements that will ultimately lead to better retention.

For many employees, culture comes down to communication. By simply using their in-cab communications systems to actually communicate with your drivers while they are out on the road you can make them feel less isolated and as important as you probably already think they are. This communicates respect for them. In specific, what does that look like? Perhaps it’s some type of Skype system that allows drivers of the same fleet to chat and discuss happenings and issues. Building on that, though, how powerful would it be to tie in their dispatcher or even the company president to the same communication system? That’s connectivity that breeds happiness.

In the case of pay, what better solution for being slowed by weather, waiting in traffic or at a warehouse that is not ready to accept delivery, then to have in integrated system that optimizes the drivers’ routes for all these issues. It keeps drivers driving which earns them money, and it keeps them on schedule for that personal time that they’ve likely already planned. That’s connectivity that breeds retention.

We don’t want to give the impression that technology and the connectivity that comes with it is some kind of magic wand that can be waved to improve driver satisfaction and retention. But the combination of technology and the smart utilization of it can go a long way toward making drivers more satisfied.

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