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Employee Retention: Seven Tips for Hiring and Keeping New Drivers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that around 231,000 new tractor-trailer driving jobs open up each year. Delivery truck driving jobs are growing at a rate of about 12%, and around 190,700 new job openings occur each year.

The chief economist for American Trucking Association reported a shortage of around 80,000 drivers in 2021, and it’s believed it might increase to more than 160,000 by 2030. The shortage is affecting everyone, but right now, you need to focus on your company. How can you hire and keep new drivers?

Provide Competitive Wages

Make sure the wages you offer are competitive. You definitely want to make an income as a trucking business owner, and you want to have the revenue to grow your business, but you can’t do this at the expense of your drivers. If you can’t pay them competitive wages, you won’t keep your drivers for long.

What is a competitive wage? It varies from one state to another. For a heavy and tractor-trailer driver, the BLS reports a median wage of $23.23 per hour in 2021. But the salaries in some areas are much higher than this. For example, in Washington State, the mean hourly wage is $27.49. In the Chicago area, it’s $27.33.

How do you find what’s a competitive wage? Start with the BLS’s Query System to find out what wages are in your state. That gives you an idea. Now, look on job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Simply Hired to see what you find for salaries. The goal is to offer more in wages and benefits than the competition does.

You may need to find ways to save money to ensure your drivers get the salary they want. There are many ways to save money in the trucking industry.

Start by looking into fuel discounts. Saint John Capital offers business Visa cards that offer fuel discounts. Save money on the diesel or gas your drivers’ purchase, you have more money to put towards paying them. Make sure you look into company credit cards that collect rewards points you can put towards meal discounts or as cashback offers you can use to pay your monthly credit card bill.

Weatherize your business office building. Grants from the government can help you pay for any upgrades that help lower your energy bills or energy-efficient HVAC systems. More efficient LED lighting is another cost-effective way to lower energy bills.

Ensure the Benefits You Offer Are What They Need and Also Want

Health and dental insurance are essential for your workers. Health and dental care costs are outrageous, and they need to have every advantage possible to take care of not only their health but also their family’s health. This is a start, but you also need to add benefits like life insurance, short-term disability, and even continuing education.

Your workers will appreciate knowing that you want them to take measures to advance their careers. Through continuing education options, they can work their way up to a management role or something similar that makes them want to stay with you because they know you’re helping them achieve their goals. Three out of ten drivers report dissatisfaction with having a career path.

As drivers are often sat for long periods, gym memberships are benefits they may appreciate. You could also look into online memberships to fitness programs like FitOn or Apple Fitness. Even if they’re not looking to exercise, the chance to de-stress and stretch out with a Tai Chi or Yoga program may appeal to them.

How do you know what other benefits to offer? Ask them. Make it a company policy to ask for benefits. When it’s feasible, make sure you deliver on some of the things they request. If a worker brings up a company daycare, see if it’s something you could offer. It makes your trucking company unique and draws drivers to you.

Make It Known You’ll Be as Flexible as Possible

Be as flexible as you can. You do need to keep taking work, but if you know you have two drivers who really want to have time to explore the next city they’re scheduled to travel to, try to arrange things so that they can spend a few vacation days there.

If you have a driver who wants to work on a Sunday instead of Monday through Friday, work with that driver to ensure they get the day off they want in exchange for Sunday deliveries.

Truck drivers were surveyed to find out what they disliked most about their employer or work. Almost 40% said they didn’t feel they were given enough miles or loads. If you have drivers who haven’t reached the maximum hours, make sure they have as much work as they’d like. As long as they’re within the government’s maximum driving hours, there’s no reason to restrict them from working more.

Give Them Some Freedom

You do want to be able to track where your drivers are along the route but don’t use it to spy on them. If you’re constantly checking in, they’ll feel micromanaged and are less likely to stay with your company. You’ll lose them to the competition.

As part of this, you also need to give them the freedom to have a personal life too. Six out of ten drivers in a poll reported feeling that they didn’t have enough time with their families. Be open about this topic and make sure your drivers feel comfortable telling you when they need to be closer to home.

Show They’re Valued

Even if you can’t top a competitor’s income, you can still beat out the competition by showing your drivers that they’re valued. Offer bonuses when you can afford them. Even a $50 gift card to a coffee or restaurant chain is better than nothing. As your business grows, make sure the value of those bonuses increases. Your drivers will not feel valued if you’re offering the same $50 gift card after your profits have doubled.

Another aspect of feeling valued is by creating a strong team. By making sure your drivers know they’re valued, you help them feel like they’re an essential part of your team.

Offer On-Demand Pay

How often are you paying your drivers? Biweekly pay is the most common pay period length with 36.5% of U.S. employers choosing that option, but weekly pay is close behind at 32.4%. Forbes asked workers how often they’d like to be paid. Daily was the most popular answer with 83% of workers stating they should be paid what they’re owed at the end of their shift or workday.

It’s time to consider on-demand pay. Eight out of ten workers state they would take a job with an employer offering on-demand wages before they’d take a job with an employer who pays weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Eight out of ten also felt that offering on-demand pay shows that an employer values its workers, which in turn would make them more loyal to that company.

Make Sure You’re Meeting a Driver’s Preference For Payments

A few more things that Forbes found in their study is that 80% of workers would prefer to get their pay directly deposited into their bank account and don’t want a paycheck to have to take to a bank. If you’re still issuing paychecks, it’s time to stop and move to other options. Offer direct deposit of wages. Ask your employees if they’d like to have a company debit card and get their wages paid straight to that card. You could also look into alternative third-party options like PayPal.

How can you offer on-demand pay when you have to wait weeks for your brokers and shippers to pay you? Start factoring your invoices. As soon as your driver delivers a load, get paid for that haul. Saint John Capital helps make that happen.

Let us factor your company’s invoices. We offer freight factoring arrangements either when your driver picks up a load or delivers it. Just send us the bills of lading and we’ll take care of the rest. In addition to invoice factoring services with the lowest fees around, we also offer free business credit checks, enabling you to take on more work, even if you’ve never worked with that broker or shipper. Sign up for free online and let us help you get the money you need to offer on-demand wages.

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