The truckload industry has a driver turnover problem that never seems to go away. Many people believe it's because driver pay is too low, and there's certainly evidence that trucking sectors that pay more don't seem to have as big a turnover problem.

Yet driver surveys done for the Truckload Carriers Association's Best Fleets to Drive For program seem to indicate that driver pay -- and some other issues -- may not matter to drivers as much as you might think.

While researching our May cover story on driver recruiting and retention, I went back to the TCA archives and listened to a webinar last fall about the Best Fleets to Drive For program.

For the program, fleets are nominated by a driver, then CarriersEdge researches the company and conducts a survey of its drivers to determine the best fleets. 

Mark Murrell, president of CarriersEdge, outlined a few things that don't seem to matter as much to drivers as conventional wisdom would have us believe.

1. Driver Pay

The companies that end up winning as best fleets are almost never the top-paying organizations, Murrell said. They pay a reasonable amount, and they provide a lot of other things as well.

Murrell offered an example, which he said was typical, of one fleet's survey results. When drivers were asked if they were were compensated fairly for the work they do, nearly 20 percent said they were not. But on this same company's survey, only about 5% of the drivers were less than satisfied with the total work environment, which includes things such as compensation, benefits, work/life balance and professional development opportunities.

And when asked whether they'd like to work for this company the rest of their career, 84% agreed, while only 2.4% disagreed. And when asked if the company values driver opinions on topics that directly affect them, 75% said it did.

"So even though about 20% would like to be paid more, they're planning to stick around, and they're pretty happy with the overall package," Murrell said. "That is pretty consistent with what we see across all kinds of companies."

"So driver pay, as much as everybody grumbles about it, doesn't seem to end up being that big an issue for them. It's everything else. I often say nobody quits a job because the pay sucks."

If the pay isn't great but the total package is nice and the company treats you well, you'll probably stick around.

2. Fabulous Facilities

Murrell said companies in the program that bragged about fitness rooms, big-screen TVs and overstuffed furniture had drivers who, when surveyed, were less concerned about having those great facilities than about how well they work. The fitness equipment is great if it's all there and functioning. The big-screen TV is no big deal if it doesn't have the channels drivers want to watch.

3. Open-Door Policies

Turns out being able to walk into the president's office and air your concerns is not nearly as important to drivers as having front-line staff that can handle problems before they get to that point. If they can get their problems addressed by talking to their direct superior, that's great.

"What they do value is the periodic showing of interest," Murrell said, a more proactive approach than waiting behind that open door. When CEOs show up at a driver meeting and hang out with them, or ask how their kid's soccer team is doing, that means something.

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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