Many businesses across nearly every industry are currently facing a bit of an upheaval when it comes to retaining employees. Employees in the post-pandemic world will be much less likely to stick around if they feel they’re disrespected or if they don’t trust their employer.
While that may be a new dynamic for some industries, it’s a familiar issue for those within the trucking industry, which has long been plagued by trust issues that lead to turnover. The persistent turnover problem associated with trucking leaves many drivers — and even those simply interested in becoming drivers — with a bad perception of trucking companies as a collective whole.
“Drivers often feel like they’re going to be treated as a number, not a person,” says Katie Love, Marketing Director at WorkHound. “That’s the most common assumption. They want to be treated like whole people, and they feel they won’t be.”
Why does that perception persist? It starts with the very first interactions drivers have with businesses in the industry.
“It’s a common problem within the industry, especially with large companies,” Love says. “Large companies are more likely to hire newer drivers. So drivers’ very first experience is that this is how drivers are treated industry-wide. These companies often operate too quickly and don’t take the time to get to know the drivers as they’re onboarded. When this happens — when companies don’t get to know or understand who the driver is, where they’re from, and other details — it often makes those drivers feel like they aren’t truly valued.”
Given that trucking’s image problem is persistent and widespread, how can individual companies take steps to overcome it and improve their own turnover? The process of cultivating trust begins on day one when a driver joins the ranks.
“It starts up front,” Love says. “We know that a lot of companies will make promises to drivers and then not follow through. So, it really starts with making a promise and then being thorough and intentional about making sure that promise is met — and then asking for feedback to verify where things stand and where things need to be improved.”
This work begins with establishing appropriate expectations during the hiring process and continues with effective and meaningful onboarding, but it doesn’t end there. Follow-up after initial training is also important. Offering a feedback mechanism to drivers allows companies to gauge what drivers need and when.
“It’s like when you, as a consumer, experience a service and you get a follow-up text message to verify that the experience met your expectation,” Love says. “It’s about never operating on an assumption — always operating with clarity.”
When companies take these steps, it not only helps them boost retention within their own ranks, but it also helps slowly change the industry’s image, which benefits everyone.
“When it comes to the talent market, what the industry is still going through at this time is volatility,” Love says. “It’s like chemistry — until you find the right mix and figure out the right tactics for your culture, it’s going to continue to be volatile. While it would be great to say that every bit of your efforts will help achieve zero turnover, we know that hiring and retention is a long-game. It’s about building trust. What companies need to think about now is rebuilding the trust in the entire industry, and this will result in stabilization for individual companies”
That rebuilding process may take a while, but it’s an effort that’s worth it in the long run.
“The experiences of drivers at work have an impact on their lives,” Love says. “If they’re having a good experience in this industry, they’ll start sharing their experience with family members and friends who are looking for work. Their kids see that, and a new generation sees that, and hopefully that generation will have a better experience than the ones in the past.”
Overcoming the industry’s trust problem starts with offering drivers a voice. Sign up for a free demo to learn how WorkHound can help!