A rewards-based driver career path should be cornerstone of a solid driver retention strategy, according to Duff Swain, president of Trincon Group, a transportation consulting firm. To address this, Trincon has made an outline of its driver career path plan available for free through its website, www.trincon.com.
“We have felt all along that [driver turnover is] not a money issue; it’s a communications issue,” Swain told FleetOwner. “Drivers have not been treated as employees. In…many cases [truckload companies] hire the wrong type of driver, because they hire a driver based on a lifestyle choice and not a career path choice.”
And because the industry lacks a career advancement option for serious truckers, “in that void most of the good guys have found something else to do,” Swain explained. “There is no career path model that says, ‘this is a good choice for your future.’
The key to gaining a pool of productive, long-term employees is to initiate a rewards-based career path drivers can follow, Swain said. Trincon’s website outlines a career path that includes six levels of development that allow new drivers to advance and become seasoned professionals. It also summarizes a driver incentive program based on the amount of miles driven and length of employment. Rewards for excellent performance and advanced levels of experience include pay increases, bonuses, vacation time, and title advancement.
Swain has noticed some truckload companies have put major emphasis on “lifestyle” issues to boost retention rates but he believes this is a pitfall.
“The net result is a guy with no allegiance to the company,” Swain explained. “If you have someone with no future and no goals [with the company], then you have made a poor quality [hiring] choice.”
Trincon was founded in 1982 and has worked primarily with private companies running from 125 to 600 trucks, typically truckload operations in the logistics or brokerage industries. Swain witnessed the effects of deregulation of trucking from the beginning.
Noting that driver turnover rates have remained above 100% since deregulation, “it tells you that this isn’t a very well managed industry. It’s still feeling the effects of deregulation,” Swain said.
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