Offering value can improve driver retention

What to do when your driver turnover rate is higher than you’d like.

Several factors can contribute to higher-than-expected turnover in your fleet. Consider these when analyzing your turnover percentages:

  • Company culture: Do you provide a safe, enjoyable work environment? Do your drivers feel like they’re part of a team—or just a truck number?

  • Compensation: Are your wages competitive enough? Rates can vary slightly from region to region, but overall, the national averages are a clear indication of industry trends.

  • Incentives: Aside from standard driver pay, do you present any awards for exceptional performance? Awards such as driver of the month/year, fuel bonuses, and profit-sharing are all ways to encourage loyalty in your fleet.

  • Contracts: Do you require contracts with non-compete agreements?

  • Communication: Does your fleet have a reasonable means of communicating issues or concerns? Sometimes drivers resign simply because they feel under-appreciated and unheard by their employers. Your drivers will tell you exactly what they need to succeed—if you’re willing to ask the questions.

  • Vehicle maintenance: Your company doesn’t need to boast the newest equipment to draw quality operators. While the presence of new trucks can help drive retention, the biggest factor is vehicle maintenance. If your vehicles aren’t properly maintained, they’ll spend more time being repaired, inspected, and in some cases, out of service. Try to keep a robust maintenance cycle that features open communication between all levels of the team. When drivers can communicate equipment issues and see a fast turnaround with the repair, they’re more likely to remain loyal.

  • Home time: As business models continue to evolve, the freight lanes of carriers will also follow suit. Drivers have expectations of what their home time should look like. Be open and honest with your new hires. If your current model is 12 days out and 3 days home, then that’s what a driver will expect. Try to respect the balance of work and family.

  • Exit interviews: Not all drivers or former employees will be open to sharing the reasons why they’re leaving. However, some may be willing, and that information is very valuable. Conducting exit interviews when possible will give you some insight as you address driver turnover.


Here are some measures you can take to address your

high turnover rates:

  • Equipment: If your equipment is antiquated and the drivers feel like the “grass is greener,” then you may want to explore some in-cab features that’ll make the drivers more inclined to stay in the truck. Some of these features may be simple things like refrigerators, TVs, and satellite-based programming. If you’re unable to offer the newest equipment, look into other options that’ll set you apart from other carriers.

  • Competitive salary: Consider these steps to establish attractive compensation packages for your drivers:

  • Research compensation rates in your area. If your rates fall below that range, consider how you can gradually increase to become more competitive.

  • Connect with other carriers about current pay structures to help you establish your own benchmark for pay. Some carriers will be transparent, and some may not. Being able to collect data on local pay rates can offer a good barometer on where your own pay rates should be.

  • Consider progressive pay structures for drivers who stay out longer. For example, you can tell drivers you can get them home every eight days, but the pay is a specific amount per mile. Whereas the driver who stays out 12 days would see a higher rate per mile. You can determine what pay structure benefits them the most.

  • Incentives: Rewards are a good way to retain a fleet. They don’t always have to be cash-based. Sometimes recognition rewards can create strong results in smaller fleets because bragging rights carry weight. Little things such as branded clothing, coolers, TVs, and gaming systems can encourage strong results in the fleet. Trainee bonus structure can be tiered to reflect the amount of time the driver is on board. Retention bonuses are also good. You can incentivize longevity as well. But what you celebrate must be attainable enough for new drivers to see the benefit of investing their time in your company.

Creativity can help you retain drivers. Before you act, consult your employment attorney about your new or altered initiatives. Keep in mind the bigger challenge is finding out why your drivers are leaving in the first place. Don’t be afraid to beta test your solutions. Ask your drivers what they need—and champion their success as well as your own.


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