Where can trucking companies improve driver satisfaction? It’s a question that has somewhat different answers for drivers at different stages of their careers with their employers.
Strategic Programs, which works with trucking companies to do driver satisfaction and exit surveys, recently put out some statistics gleaned from its 2016 surveys from a representative sample of its clients in different types of trucking across the industry.
New hires surveyed gave their company the lowest scores for these statements:
- Delays are minimal at the customer
- I earn what I thought I would when I accepted this job
- I am paid fairly for everything I do on the job
- My pay is competitive with other companies doing the same work
- When I am home, it is an acceptable amount of time.
“The good news about the new hire low scores is that they are all easily managed upfront during the hiring and onboarding process, by setting clear expectations with drivers,” says Strategic Programs’ Megan Younkin.
Her colleague Jay Green says the takeaway here is that fleets need to work with customers better and work with new hires better about delays at the shipper. “We see delays being an issue more for newer drivers than longer tenured ones. It is especially shocking to those new to the industry.”
Green says guaranteed pay for new hires is one way to address concerns about earnings expectations.
“While the job may allow them to make X amount per year, it doesn't always seem that way out of the gates, and before they know how to work their carriers network, they easily check out and decide they can't reach their earnings potential. We have seen success with guaranteed pay for new hires to help with those rough first few months.”
Current employees surveyed gave their company the lowest scores for these statements:
- My compensation is competitive with other companies doing the same work.
- Delays are minimal at the customer
- I am compensated fairly for the work I do.
- I am provided with opportunities to grow professionally as a driver.
- Loads/work assignments are distributed fairly.
“For all drivers there will still be harsh realities of the job that some will adapt to better than others,” Green says. “Anything fleets can do to train their managers to understand problems drivers face, to equip these managers with better trust-building skills, will be worth the investment. Just having someone on the other end of the phone who can empathize and relate will go a long way. After a frustrating day, the last thing you need is a manager who is too busy or treats you like a number.”
Exiting employees surveyed gave their company the lowest scores for these statements:
- My company appreciates its employers/owner-operators
- I earned what I thought I would when I was hired
- My manager/dispatcher was effective in resolving problems.
- Delays were minimal at the customer.
- I was paid fairly for everything I did on the job.
“At the end of the day, 72% of the exits are saying the company could have done something different to keep those who left,” says Green. “There is clearly a lot of room for improvement across the industry.”
Compensation issues were a problem for all three groups of drivers.
“Managing perceptions of pay will continue to be an issue,” Green says. ”At the end of the day, fleets need to communicate pay better, make it easier to understand, make it consistent to obtain, continually make sure they are competitive with pay and that drivers know it, and provide regular pay reviews and coaching on how to make more money.”
Younkin notes that some of these low scores could be missed perceptions that need managed, and some are issues that need to be fixed or addressed. “Either way, these are all actionable items that can lead to organizational improvements.”
Green recommends that fleets looking to make improvements look at the top four actions that impact engagement as determined by Strategic Programs’ research:
- My manager understands the problems employees face.
- My suggestions for change are given consideration
- Leadership follows through on commitments
- I am satisfied with the opportunities available to make more money (bonuses, raises, etc.)
These items, he explains are a key driver analysis across all data from current drivers that show us what items directly correlate with an improvement on engagement.