There are many ways to create a driver-centered culture and if done properly they are all capable of being fun and effective. With driver turnover cost estimates ranging from $6000.00 dollars up to $12,000 dollars per person, it makes cultural and monetary sense to invest in turning your company into a fun place to work and to reduce turnover. So how do you do it? One of the first things to do is to ask people what they like and don’t like about your company. Doesn’t it seem obvious? Ask the questions and react to the answers. You don’t have to be an industrial psychologist to get to the bottom of your issues — Ask!
A simple survey of your driving force can reveal all kinds of opportunities for improvement to turnover. Another off shoot of asking pointed questions is that you are showing your drivers that their opinions have value. I hope this point is understood. If I ask your opinion on a subject it is because I value your opinion. It’s powerful but only if I react and reply to your answer. If an opinion is asked for and no reply is given then the natural instinct of the person who offered the information would be, so why did you ask? So don’t start this exercise unless you plan on following through!
What do you ask? Well, it’s again very simple when you break it down into small chunks. I would ask each area of your company to come up with three questions to start with. Payroll might ask the drivers if their pay statements are easy to read, maintenance might ask for a rating on how punctual their scheduled maintenance appointments are. Safety might ask how engaging their safety meetings are. Operations might be interested in knowing their opinion on the functionality of the satellite system or phone system. Whatever the common points of contact are with the drivers, each department should address them. An overall approval rating by department should also be obtained and a 1-10 measurement is all that is needed. I would also leave space for additional comments.
After the request for feedback of your internal procedures and policies it is natural to try and get feedback on your Driver and Owner Operator’s daily environment. Ask them who their favorite shippers and receivers are and then who their least favorite shippers and receivers are. You might want to inquire as to your driver’s favorite fuel stops and least favorite
Run a contest for the collection of surveys and put the names of those who participated into a draw for company merchandise. Or have your safety department have them filled out during
a safety meeting etc.
Once the information is collected, it needs to be reacted to and the people who gave you their opinions need to know what you did with the data. You might want to show them the results of each question so they can see how other drivers reacted to the questions asked. You should obviously react to finding out who the worst shippers are by trying to help them change how they are perceived by your drivers – or by replacing them. They are causing you turnover! Let your drivers know that you did react and what you did about the information you collected. Your best shipper could be thanked in letter form, or with the presentation of a plaque and copies of the letter from your drivers.
The information collected is now the basis of your retention effort going forward. Every area of the company can improve somehow with the information collected. It’s gold. This type of program can also establish a measurable system of driver approval from department to department. A benchmark is established and then it is up to individual departments to work at improving their overall approval ratings. They should set incremental goals for improvement and then devise a strategy to get there.
Two other initiatives are a natural spin off of this exercise and are important to overall success. First, each and every improvement or increase in approval rating should be celebrated. Let your people enjoy their victory. Nothing spectacular is required, but something that they can all enjoy and that allows everyone to reflect on their success. Small milestones are what are needed to continue the momentum and to reach the goal. Second is broadcasting to the entire company the success that has been attained. Communicate what has been accomplished and what is to come. Every company with two employees has a rumor mill so feed yours with as many positives as you possibly can.
This stuff is simple but very powerful –
but it is important to remember that
what is being collected from your people must be reacted to or you will be in a worse position with turnover than when you started.
Ray J. Haight
Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.