With low unemployment and stagnant wages, truck fleets are looking to increase pay and benefits in order to attract new drivers and keep current ones. 

With low unemployment and stagnant wages, truck fleets are looking to increase pay and benefits in order to attract new drivers and keep current ones. 

In its latest quarterly Trends in Truckload Recruiting and Retention Survey, Driver IQ reports that most carriers are increasing driver pay in order to improve recruiting and retention efforts.

The survey found that in the first quarter of 2018, 60% of fleets surveyed increased per-mile pay for drivers, and just over half have increased performance bonuses.

“Not only do recruiters believe that pay must be increased, companies are already raising pay, and recruiters expect that salaries will continue to increase,” said Lana R. Batts, co-president of Driver iQ. “By taking the pulse of truckload recruiters across the nation, this survey highlights trends and future expectations of driver applicants and recruits. That information leads to effective changes in recruiting activities, and better outcomes in retention.”

In 2017, driver turnover increased overall, and with the unemployment rate below the historical average, potential drivers have more choices about where to work. Driver pay has also not kept up with inflation, according to Driver IQ. It cited a U.S. Labor Department statistic that showed that if truck driving wages had kept up with inflation since 1980, a driver would have earned $111,000 per year in 2015. Instead, in 2016 the average driver brought home $53,000. Most surveyed recruiters believed that compensation needs to be at least $75,000 per year in order to impact driver turnover.

With high levels of freight demand, carriers buying more equipment, and a lower number of job-seeking applicants, fleets are looking to be more competitive in order to meet their needs.

The types of incentives offered varied by the size of fleets, with 67% of large carriers increasing per-mile pay, while medium-sized carriers tended to prefer performance-based bonuses. Large carriers were also more likely to offer bonuses such as more home time than small carriers.

That trend is likely to continue, with 72% of surveyed driver recruiters reporting that they expected to increase pay and benefits in the second quarter. While 83% of large fleets expected to increase compensation compared to just half of small fleets, regardless of size, no respondents expected that pay would decrease in that period of time.

The Driver IQ survey represents the views of recruitment managers who operate more than 75,000 trucks. The majority of the responses came from carriers with over $100 million in gross operating revenues.

Related: Money Is Not the Only Thing That Speaks to Truck Drivers

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