3 Ways to Improve Driver Loyalty in 2021

driver loyalty

If there’s truly been a silver lining in 2020, it’s that essential workers in the United States and beyond are getting the spotlight they deserve. That’s definitely been the case for truck drivers, who have long been an underappreciated asset in keeping our daily lives functioning. So if essential workers are the most valuable employees, how can carriers improve driver loyalty in 2021? 

Retention is always a priority — and 2020 was no different. In fact, the American Transportation Research Institute’s survey of critical issues in the trucking industry found that driver turnover and driver shortage were the top two issues this year.

“Because there’s such a significant need for more drivers, drivers are working to their limit and beyond, and often become frustrated one day and have a new job the next,” says Katie Love, Marketing Manager at WorkHound. “The good news is that companies are really taking ownership of this problem. We’re seeing a renewed focus on valuing drivers as the top asset for the companies we work with.”

To keep drivers, companies have to focus on building trust. Today, we’d like to share some ideas about how you can enhance your company culture and increase driver loyalty and retention in 2021.

1. Build Trust By Following Through with Commitments

This probably seems logical, but communicating a commitment and following through is an often-overlooked aspect of building and maintaining driver loyalty. Whether it’s while setting expectations during their initial hiring process or while they’re current members of your team, it’s essential to “mean what you say,” so to speak. 

“Making commitments to drivers and following through with them supports better communication and builds a better relationship,” Love says. “We’ve seen what happens when companies make promises to drivers and don’t follow through, and on the flipside, we’ve seen drivers who were very satisfied when companies were keeping them in the loop and communicating effectively.”

2. Be Conscious of Company Culture

You might think of company culture as only encompassing employees who are within the walls of an office space. But that’s simply not true. Company culture ultimately permeates every aspect of the work your employees do — and a negative company culture can ultimately lead to driver turnover. And, despite the distance, drivers feel the effects of a toxic office environment. 

“It’s really important to be aware of your company culture,” Love says. “One bit of feedback that we received in Q3 and are still seeing in Q4 is that drivers are becoming more conscious of how members of the team interact with others in the office, even if they themselves don’t go to the office. They can sense interdepartmental conflict, and it really minimizes their confidence in their company’s credibility.”

Keeping a careful eye on how all members of your team are interacting with each other can make a significant impact on a driver’s perception of your company culture. 

“If you’re conscious of how your company is working together, that will trickle down and positively impact every member of your team,” Love adds.

3. Prioritize Driver Needs

The core of our work and beliefs focuses on gathering feedback and acting on it. Having a meaningful feedback mechanism in place can help ensure you’re really listening to your drivers and have a handle on their true needs.

Our research shows that drivers have one overarching need as we close out 2020: They’re looking for more time at home and with family, in some cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In others, drivers may just be experiencing burnout after a particularly difficult year. 

Programs such as self-dispatch, where drivers have some autonomy over when they’re going to be on the road and their pay, can help ensure your drivers are getting what they need to stay healthy and satisfied.

“Effective communication improves driver loyalty,” Love says. “Drivers are the eyes and ears of the company, so it’s crucial that you start the process of improving loyalty by asking for their input.” 

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