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
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
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
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
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.