How and why to improving driver retention matters

How and why to improve driver retention

Truck driver shortage remains a major issue for Europe’s road transport companies. Attracting new drivers is still challenging for the industry overall as well as for individual transport fleets. Given these circumstances, what can fleet managers do to retain their existing drivers?

Driver shortage – today?

How serious is the driver shortage? Holger Mandel, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus Germany said that Germany needs another 45,000 drivers (source: The French FNTR union estimated a shortfall of 20,000 drivers (source: Les Echos) Didier Michel, organiser of the Truck and Tuning Show de Garocentre in Belgium told RTB TVthat the country is searching for at least 3,000 more truck drivers.

customer survey by Paragon Software Systems in the UK found that the driver/skills shortage was the greatest challenge facing road transport fleets in 2018.

The costs of driver turnover

The costs of not looking after your current drivers are high. US research by Rodriquez et Al conducted over 2016 among a cross-section of drivers from owner-operators through to fleet drivers, driving commercial vehicles from vans to reefers and semi-trailers found that the average cost of turnover per driver for all companies in the study was €7081.15 and ranged from €1928.94 to €17,826.06. (source: FORS-online)

Engagement and retention – ever more important

Given the above, what are the most effective ways to incentivise, motivate and retain your existing driver employees?

Communication is the key

When it comes to engagement and retention, many fleet managers confirm that driver feedback-based communication is crucial. This communication includes establishing a rapport with your drivers by being open and honest with them, building trust and listening to their feedback. Fleet managers need to act on that feedback and integrate it into their retention strategy.  Fleet managers can set out what the expectations are for their drivers and reward them for meeting these goals. (source: Workhound)

Engage them early

A study by employee feedback and training company Stay Metrics discovered that the way a road freight transport company brings onboard a new driver and their interactions with that driver can have a significant influence on their engagement and retention. More than a third of newly hired drivers will make their decision to leave in the first three months. (source:FleetOwner)


Fleet managers should develop a driver engagement and retention strategy. They can find inspiration from many sources including professional organisations such as the UK’s Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) which recently published a guide entitled Effective Driver Management – An Industry Code of Practice”. On page 56, it sets out a strategic framework for managing driver engagement and retention based on five principles: communicate, engage, respect, reward and train.

Retention tactics

Fleet managers have a range of retention tactics that they can employ:

  • Telematics technology is one avenue to follow. The use of in-cab videos and sensors for telematics is seen by some truck drivers as an invasion of privacy and a sign of a lack of trust. When fitting telematics technology, fleet managers must communicate the business reasons why the fleet is installing it, emphasize the driver benefits, train and incentivise drivers to utilise it in a positive manner. (source: Teletracnavman)
  • Analytics-based driver retention technology such as Omnitracs Analytics is gaining ground. It analyses historic industry data and a driver’s personal driving data provided by telematics and other sources such as tachographs to pinpoint very small changes in driver behaviour which form a pattern that is recognisable as being the prelude to a driver’s decision to leave a company. The technology sends the fleet manager an alert. The manager can then take the appropriate action to keep the driver with the company. (source:TTNews)
  • Gamification e. game playing to encourage engagement is another tactic. The fleet at Zip Water (UK) has introduced a system called OptiDrive by TomTom which gives the driver a score based on factors including speeding, idling, and harsh braking. The scores are linked to “driving,” one of the employees’ five performance objectives. Achieving their objectives can lead to bonuses on top of their salaries. The implementation of this scheme has led to a reduction in its accident rate and a 15% reduction in its insurance premiums. (source: FleetNews)
  • Role flexibility is a possible tactic. Logistics consultant Paul Trudgian suggests that to avoid “role fatigue”, drivers should periodically be moved from long-haul to last mile delivery, to a warehousing or logistics operations role. This could help retention and offer drivers a better and more flexible career development potential. (source: Paul Trudgian)
  • Traditional incentives – Fleet managers should provide their drivers with an attractive pay package and, where possible, routes and schedules that give them the opportunity to maximise time with family and friends, whilst acknowledging that truck driving is typically associated with irregular hours.
  • Better trucks and trailers– Terry Morris, commercial director of Palletways UK summed up this tactic. In an interview with UK Haulier after purchasing 64 new trucks and trailers, he underlined the importance of recruiting and retaining drivers to his company and said “Drivers take pride in vehicles they’re responsible for if the conditions they’re working in are right. They want the most modern, up-to-date vehicle and trailers so our fleet needs to impress.”

TIP and driver engagement and retention

With its fleet of over 68,000 trailer assets for rent and lease, TIP provides your drivers with the best available trailers and trailer technology, which are invaluable elements of your broader driver engagement and retention toolkit. For more information on how TIP  can help your fleet with solutions to driver engagement and retention, please contact TIP using this form.

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