Trucking is a hard job, and no one knows that better than truck drivers. Spending the time and effort to make the work easier has one major benefit: driver retention. And with drivers in the shortest supply the industry has seen in years, keeping drivers saves time and money. The research is clear, people stay with an employer when they’re satisfied with their job. So whether you’re a fleet owner, manager or an owner/operator, ensuring a good experience at work is worth the effort. We all do our best work when we’re feeling good, so making driver happiness a priority will have a positive impact on your business’ bottom line.
Here are our top tips for keeping truck drivers happier on the road.
1. Higher Pay and Bonuses
It may sound like the easy answer, but it really can be that simple sometimes. If drivers know they can get paid more somewhere else for the same work, they might not have a lot of reasons to stay. Competitive pay and bonuses also help ensure drivers have less financial stress at home, which allows for more freedom at home. Higher pay often means happier drivers, and happier drivers tend to stick around longer and do better work.
2. Comfortable and Reliable Trucks
Driving for hours on end is hard enough as it is. But add in uncomfortable seats, poorly placed or difficult-to-use controls, and frequent emergency repairs, and it’s a recipe for a miserable job. If newer equipment isn’t in the budget, just a few driver comfort upgrades and some preventative maintenance can make a big impact on driver happiness. Seek out good parts and service teams who know which upgrades make the biggest impacts for drivers’ comfort.
3. Faster Pay
For many trucking companies, driver pay comes when the company gets paid, whether that’s 30, 60 or 90 days after job completion. For lots of drivers, that timeline just doesn’t work with billing cycles. One way to make drivers happier is to find a way to pay them sooner so they can meet their financial obligations as easily as possible.
4. Building Loyalty
Inspiring loyalty in teams can go a long way towards keeping drivers long term. The lure of higher paychecks may spur drivers to jump ship or take on contract work when they don’t have other reasons to stay, but many would rather stay somewhere with a strong team that makes them feel appreciated over a bigger paycheck. Clear communication and honoring commitments solidifies the mutual trust that is critical to building loyalty. But breaking promises is a quick way to give drivers a reason to leave.
5. Regular Schedules and Home Time
Whether someone is a fleet driver or an owner-operator, downtime is important. For fleet owners, building in regular home time and maintaining as consistent a schedule as possible helps create space for employees to have a more regular schedule outside of work. The happier they are outside of work, the happier they are at work.
For those making their own schedule, it may be tempting to work as much as possible, but regular home time is important! Much like preventative maintenance on trucks, home time is maintenance for the body. Taking that time at home provides time to rest, recuperate and regenerate. Running the body and the truck ragged can tragically lead to big breakdowns at the worst times.
6. Good Support and Communication
Whether a fleet is big or small, regional or national, helpful, reliable admin staff is a must. Drivers rely on office staff to help troubleshoot when they have a problem on the road. Office and support staff who can think quickly and calmly are critical to helping to make drivers’ lives easier. Good communication can make a world of difference for a driver. If a driver knows exactly where and they need to be when, it takes the burden off of them so they can focus on the road.
7. Beneficial Equipment
When it comes time to replace equipment, take the time to look into features that make a truck easier to operate. While some drivers prefer a classic manual transmission, automatic or automatic manual transmissions take a lot of the effort out of driving. And with smart transmissions becoming more common and cost-effective, one change to a truck spec can return lower fuel costs and happier drivers. Find expert sales staff who keep driver comfort top-of-mind when spec’ing trucks, and know what drivers are looking for.
Those are our tips for happier drivers! Remember, happy employees stay longer and work harder, so investing in driver satisfaction will always be worth the effort and expense.