Want to improve driver retention in your business? Just the fact that you realize the need to do so is a big first step in keeping your fleet operators on the road longer. The next two steps are understanding what exactly driver retention is and identifying factors that affect it for the worse.
With that information in mind, you can then take steps to improve driver retention in your business. Here’s how you can provide the best work environment possible for your drivers.
Table Of Contents
- Driver Retention Defined
- Factors That Affect Driver Retention For The Worse
- Tips For Improving Driver Retention
Driver Retention 101
As we mentioned, one of the first steps toward improving driver retention is understanding what the commercial fleet industry means by the term.
Businesses of all types and sizes — be they fleet-based or otherwise — define retention as:
The ability to keep talented employees and reduce turnover
For fleet managers, that means promoting a positive work environment and eliminating (or reducing) the factors that affect driver retention for the worse.
Factors That Affect Driver Retention For The Worse
Driver retention is a critical issue in industries across the board, but identifying the factors that affect turnover in your fleet goes a long way toward helping you develop a program to counteract them.
For fleet-based businesses, the most common negative influences are:
- Driver health
- Poor work/life balance
- Too much time away from family
- Not being treated like a member of the team
- Disorganized management and scheduling
- Not enough compensation
- Too much work
- Ill-maintained equipment
- Lack of praise
Do you notice any of these traits in your business? If so, don’t panic. There are ways to build a more positive work environment and increase driver retention in the process.
Tips For Improving Driver Retention
1) Build A Driver Retention Program
If you want to improve some aspect of your business, create a program that focuses specifically on the issues relevant to the subject.
The same goes for driver retention. Build, implement, and maintain a program that will run in the background, so to speak, to support a positive work environment for everyone involved.
The remainder of the tips on this list will help you flesh out your program, improve engagement, and keep employees working within your business for years to come.
2) Compensate Your Drivers Well
Competitive pay is certainly a major factor in retention for any business. But it’s not the only thing that will keep your fleet operators from taking their skills and experience elsewhere.
Other forms of compensation play a huge role in helping your business hold on to its talent. For example, you may choose to offer:
- Flexible hours
- Health care (for drivers and their families)
- Dental and eye care
- Paid time off
- Performance bonuses and rewards
- Fringe benefits (e.g., gym memberships, childcare, educational assistance, etc.)
- Company phone/tablet for use on the road
All of these options are a form of compensation that help to make the work environment better and improve driver retention.
3) Cultivate A Sense Of Team
While fleet operators may spend a lot of time working by themselves, you can still cultivate a sense of team within the business as a whole that will help improve retention.
Encourage your employees to look out for one another, adhere to business values and standards while at work, and develop friendships with their coworkers.
You can provide a framework for this sense of team by holding company events, such as:
- End-of-the-year parties
- Summer barbecues
- Holiday celebrations
- Halloween costume competitions
- Dinners for the team at a local restaurant
When you promote teamwork within your fleet — even if operators drive alone — you make it easier for them to experience better morale, stronger group cohesion, higher efficiency, and a real sense of accomplishment while at work.
4) Prioritize Health And Safety
Operating a vehicle on American roads is a high-risk profession. And, while traffic and other drivers are a big part of that risk, they’re not the only factors that make working for a fleet business dangerous.
There are certainly other physical and mental risks associated with piloting a vehicle over short and long distances, including:
- Lack of exercise
When developing your driver retention program, be sure to include rules and regulations that prioritize safety on the road, but also encourage your employees to get into habits that lead to the other physical and mental risks mentioned above.
5) Celebrate A Job Well Done
Whenever possible, make the effort to celebrate a job well done. It doesn’t have to be a celebration for something large. You can celebrate small accomplishments as well.
For example, recognize when employees maintain safety standards for a certain period of time. Commend them for cleaning out their vehicles. Or just drop a “Thanks for coming into work today!” when you see them in the hall.
If you take the initiative to celebrate accomplishments, large and small, your employees will feel like valued members of the business — rather than just one more cog in the wheel — and your driver retention numbers will soar.
6) Ask For Driver Feedback
If you’re not sure what would help improve driver retention, go straight to the source — ask your team for feedback.
They’ll likely have plenty of suggestions for improving certain business processes and building a more positive work environment. Sure, you’ll get some feedback that just isn’t possible, but don’t dismiss anything until you’ve examined it thoroughly and given it plenty of thought.
Then, whatever feedback your drivers provide, do your best to implement solutions to the problems. You don’t have to address them all right away, but your team should be able to see and feel that you’re making an effort to address their concerns.
7) Embrace Technology
When it comes to improving your driver retention, embrace technology whenever possible. Doing so makes their job easier but also gives you insight into the conditions they experience on the road.
One of the best ways to incorporate modern technology into fleet activities is through telematics, a set of systems and add-ons that use the Global Positioning System (GPS) and onboard diagnostic (OBD) equipment to monitor movement on a computerized map.
The system also provides data about driving behavior and the condition of the vehicle that you can use to inform some of the other tips on this list (e.g., set safety benchmarks and maintain the vehicles better).
8) Keep Channels Of Communication Open
Open and effective communication is one of the cornerstones of a strong team and a strong business. How can you improve communication among your team as a way to boost driver retention?
Start by making your own communication as clear, concise, and effective as possible. When your employees see what good communication looks like, they’ll be more willing to make the effort themselves.
But a willingness to try isn’t always the solution to the problem. You may need to take it a step further and provide practical training in effective communication so that your employees know how to go about getting better.
Keeping the channels of communication open — and improving the messages that flow through those channels — may take some time to get going, but the results will be well worth the effort.
The free and open communication between everyone in your fleet will dramatically improve both your driver retention rate and the way you do business overall.
9) Emphasize Work/Life Balance
Work/life balance is essential for driver retention in the current business climate. Without it, your drivers are going to burn out and start looking elsewhere to find a job that gives them what they need.
Whenever possible, encourage your team to use the time outside of work for activities they enjoy so they can recharge and return to work raring to go.
To facilitate this, consider giving them extra days off (e.g., a three-day weekend) now and then.
10) Maintain Equipment To High Standards
Where drivers are concerned, the fleet vehicles they operate every day serve as their office.
If they’re working in an environment that lacks heat or air conditioning, has uncomfortable seating, and includes equipment that breaks down on a regular basis, they’re not going to be happy to come to work every day.
To improve driver retention, make it a priority to maintain your vehicles and other equipment to the highest standards possible.
Driver Retention And Coast
A strong driver retention program can help you manage your fleet and business better than ever before. But these tips can only go so far once your drivers are out in the field.
To make their job easier, add a fuel management solution to the tools your drivers take with them.
With Coast’s fleet card and expense management platform, your drivers get a simple, streamlined way to pay for fuel at any station that accepts Visa, and you get real-time information on their activities so you can manage your fleet efficiently and effectively.
For more information, visit CoastPay.com today.