Equipment & pay are key issues for driver retention, report says

For the second year in a row, failing equipment and compensation issues are the two biggest reasons truck drivers leave their job, according to a new report from Conversion Interactive Agency and PDA (People, Data, Analytics). The 2021 Driver Recruiting and Retention Annual Report looks at driver data from 2021 and highlights retention trends affecting the trucking industry.

“2021 was another unprecedented year for driver recruitment and retention,” Kelley Walkup, CEO and president for Conversion Interactive Agency told The Trucker News Staff. “Not only did carriers deal with ongoing issues from the pandemic, but they were presented with new challenges such as labor shortages and equipment delays.”

Equipment issues and complicated pay packages have frustrated drivers – especially during global supply chain disruptions and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Equipment supply chain issues are clearly leading to driver frustration,” Scott Dismuke, vice president of operations for PDA, told The Trucker News Staff. “With orders for new tractors still constrained by part delays and labor shortages, equipment issues are not going away any time soon. We see this trend continuing this year and possibly beyond.”

He said being transparent and managing the expectations of drivers during the shortage will be helpful to retention in 2022.

“Communication and setting expectations with drivers will be vital to reducing driver frustration during the equipment shortage,” Dismuke told reporters. “PDA data has shown that a breakdown issue for a driver this week, usually leads to a compensation issue for a driver next week. When drivers are consistently in the shop, they aren’t logging miles, when they aren’t logging miles, they aren’t making the money promised.”

In 2021, several trucking carriers increased driver pay. But miles-related compensation remained a top concern for drivers, data shows.

“In 2021, we saw very aggressive driver recruitment as well as many industry-wide pay increases,” Dismuke said. “If drivers are struggling with logging consistent miles in this freight market, they are a high turnover risk. Drivers see the advertisements; they know what companies are offering and have multiple options to go elsewhere.”

Dismuke told that carriers should quickly identify issues, whether it be with equipment or pay, and intervene before they leave. For many trucking carriers, driver retention is a key concern, and has been for decades. Luckily, Walkup says there is a solution.

“We saw a shift in perspective last year regarding the need to adopt advanced technology when it comes to recruiting drivers,” Walkup told reporters. “This shows us that not only are carriers understanding that need, but they are embracing it.”

Lead-nurturing technology was on the rise in 2021, according to Conversion’s report, and the carriers who implemented it had an easier time growing truck driver leads.

“Trusted tools are being developed and improved upon every day,” Walkup said. “In 2022, carriers will have an opportunity to embrace these technologies and reap the rewards of improved cost-per-hire and time-to-hire.”

Another solution to driver retention issues? Driver reviews! According to the report, the average rating for trucking carriers in the U.S. is 3.74 stars.

“Managing online reputation is going to be a key player when recruiting drivers in 2022,” Walkup said. “When a driver is looking for a job, they want authentic feedback from those who have come before them. How your carrier responds to that will be a crucial factor in your success in driver recruiting.”

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