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  • Writer's pictureEvelina.Petrov

The Driver Shortage Has Reached an All-Time High

Recruting and retaining drivers is a top priority for fleet

Driving retention is dependent on fleets

understanding what drivers need, what makes them happy or unhappy, and what makes them decide to switch carriers. More importantly, carriers need to know when and how to intervene to shore up critical issues before a driver quits.

WorkHound’s 2021 trends report highlights the importance of employee outreach, equipment equity,

and relationships within an organization. Current and

past reports show communication ties into every

subject. The top comments of 2021 were about

equipment, people, logistics, praise, and pay.

Additionally, this year WorkHound added several new

data points, and fleets can take these insights to

improve driver satisfaction, minimize frustrations,

and create a healthy working environment in 2022.

In 2021, 29% of comments were positive, 35% were negative, and 36% were neutral. Negative sentiment has grown, and burnout is high. Top categories associated with burnout include pay, logistics, and communication. WorkHound also identifies critical comments, such as, ‘I’m so mad, I’m going to quit’ which can highlight a need for immediate intervention.

The top critical comment themes were pay, logistics, communication, equipment, and people.

Equipment Comments Outrank People, Logistics, & Pay

Drivers comment on equipment more than any other topic, which is not surprising given that equipment is not only drivers’ tools to do their job but also is often their home. Equipment-related comments could be about their truck or truck-related amenities or challenges with maintenance, people, and communication tied to equipment.

In 2021, equipment shortages plagued the industry, and

carriers of all sizes fought for new trucks and trailers. That

means carriers are working to keep their fleet running and

optimized without typical trade cycles. Stretching trade cycles

can create driver frustration, and comments on equipment

picked up around periods of regular trade cycles.

Satisfaction by Company Size

Small companies have found a way to create a small village environment for their drivers versus a large city environment of a larger company.

Instead of being a number in the pool of

drivers, carriers can know someone on a

first-name basis.

Large companies are starting to invest in

retention. They see small companies have a

family feel, and they are trying to duplicate

that by creating specific touchpoints.

Training and Benefits Comments

Provide Telling Information

Comments from drivers about training and benefits are particularly

insightful. When drivers leave critical comments about training,

they’re about 50% more likely to leave.

Yet when drivers mention benefits, they’re more likely to stay, with

78% of them remaining at their company at the end of 2021.

WorkHound dug deeper into the training and benefits themes this

year, not only because they were the most talked about in 2020 but

also because they're very comparable in comment volume and proved

very different outcomes in 2021.

The Significance of Training

There were just under 2,000 comments on training in 2021, which is

3.2% of all comments, demonstrating a satisfaction level that’s

actually equal to the average satisfaction rating across the board for

2021, which was 6.7%. Only 28.5% of the comments were positive,

and nearly half of those who made comments about training left

their company.

Also noteworthy is the average message length related to training

was 361 characters. The comment length is important because longer

comments typically indicate dissatisfaction.

Hear Directly from Drivers on

Training Training alone:

"I didn't have proper

training. I felt thrown

into it, and I quit."

Training and onboarding are critical because

86% of new hires decide to stay with a

company long-term in the first six months of

employment, according to a study by

Aberdeen. Additionally, in a 2021, only 12% of

employees strongly agree their organization

does a great job of onboarding new employees.

Plus, those who strongly agree their

onboarding process was exceptional are 3.3

times as likely to strongly agree their job is as

good or better than expected.

It is clear carriers have to take care of their employees at onboarding if they want them to stay around for the long haul.

When looking at training by company size, large

companies receive comments about training at about twice the frequency of medium-sized companies.

However, training comments at small and medium

companies tend to be less positive when compared to

driver experiences at larger companies. Large

companies often have a more systemized approach

and the resources to invest in more sophisticated

training technology and techniques. They also focus

on training the trainer rather than having another

driver conduct the training.

WorkHound also investigated sub-themes tied to

training that should cause concern.

The top two were pay and communication.

Comments related to training and communication,

drivers indicated that they felt training or orientation

was unorganized, that the trainer wasn’t equipped or

was potentially overwhelmed, the training type wasn’t

effective for them, or they had an inaccurate

description in the recruiting experience and,

therefore, unrealized expectation.

Drivers often communicated challenges with training

on some of their electronic devices. They may have

gotten more familiar with a different device in a

previous position, or they wanted additional training.

Training + Pay:

"Pay for training is not enough when you're on the road, but I understand I still have bills

not getting paid."

"Training, training, training. I'm currently on my first day on my own, and I have

absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I'm confused. If it wasn't for the guy I rode with for the

ride-along giving me his number to call with questions I have, I would probably wouldn't

be here. There needs to be more training and more pay for the ride-along."

"I've been employed there almost a month and haven't even received my orientation pay. It

sucks. I am just being honest. "

Training + Pay

"I was told ten days training, 14 days on the truck, then I will be on my own... well, I was 14 days training, and I'm on this truck and still haven’t been home to get my pay, and now that I'm going to upgrade, whatever that is, I still can't drive home because I need to be dispatched home. Like, come on, let's get with it, and I still have bills that are due,

and they can't get paid because what I got are on a card that's going to take four days to transfer to my

bank. "

On Training - Data Leads to Action:

Understanding the role training and onboarding play is

critical as the trucking industry continues to focus further on

building a new talent pipeline and bringing new entrants to

the industry to combat the worsening driver shortage.

Based on the training data and comment insights,

WorkHound recommends carriers:

1. Align expectations:

Ensure that drivers are receiving consistent and realistic information about the job.

Carriers must ask and listen to the experience drivers expect from the company.

2. Audit Training:

Run a regular review on the way training is being conducted, both in the experience trainers are

offering and the value the trainees are getting. It can be helpful to sit through training to see if it

is engaging.

3. Train on New Equipment and Technology:

When carriers implement new technology or add new equipment, make sure you dedicate the

appropriate amount of time or resources to train drivers on it. These are big investments, and,

to get the most value, it's important to make sure these resources are being used.

4. Ongoing professional development:

Drivers are asking for opportunities to gain more knowledge and develop new skills.

This includes getting appropriate training to become a trainer or additional professional growth

within the company.

Benefits Create Opportunities

As noted above, benefits are critical for carriers as they are an ideal opportunity for fleets

addressing concerns or questions. Roughly 13% of comments in the benefits section were

questions. Unlike the training theme comments, a majority of commenters who talk about

benefits remainedwith their company through the end of the year. Only 22% are now inactive.

Similar to the training theme, the sentiment around benefits seems to be a more

common problem for medium and small companies. This could be due to the

ability of larger companies to have access to systems and resources that might be

inaccessible to smaller companies.

Fortunately, most of the comments clearly define the problem, able to take specific

action on the feedback to address and resolve the concerns presented.

For example, workers here discussed constant changes in PTO or other forms of time off,

use of personal resources for juror duty, and not having medical and dental provided.

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