There is a misconception that exit interviews will not be useful because outgoing employees are usually disgruntled and will just say bad things about the company they are leaving. This, however, is not always the case, especially with truck drivers. For companies that do exit interviews, drivers will often divert from the actual reasons they leave to not “burn the bridge” with the carrier. Drivers leave for a number of reasons: concerns of family, pay, equipment, personnel, lack of respect, retirement or leaving because they received a better offer at another company or in another industry. Exit interviews, are not only a respectful business practice, but can also provide vital information that can help you get a deeper understand of what triggers drivers to leave so you can work to improve the experience for the remaining drivers.
Here are 7 useful outcomes that can come from an exit interview that will help you retain your truck drivers:
Truck drivers that are leaving your company may not be honest initially, so you must emphasize that the conversation is confidential and what is shared won’t affect the company’s perspective of the driver. They will actually feel more respected if you are taking the time to find out the real reasons as to what went wrong. Receiving honest answers is the most useful way to help your company make meaningful changes that will actually help retain your drivers.
If you can better understand the personality type of the driver that is leaving, you will be able to recognize other drivers that may be similar to that outgoing driver. You will also know the characteristics of their job, such as OTR, dedicated, or local, which can help pinpoint which current drivers you should be spending more time on because they might have a higher chance of leaving.
This is especially important if you are losing a great driver. Finding out what motivates good employees to leave can be useful in retaining drivers that you already have and really don’t want to lose. Ask these outgoing drivers what made them stay as long as they did. Asking hard, specific questions (especially ones that start with “why…” and “how…”) help you get detailed answers, even if it may be advice that is hard to swallow.
If you know your driver is leaving to drive for another company, ask them why. This is a good way to stay up to date on what other companies are offering and what drivers are actually looking for. Not only is this useful for recruitment, but you can use these answers to make a final attempt to counter to retain your drivers by offering an improved package.
Exit interviews can also help you learn more about your current drivers. If an outgoing driver is rude or seems like they weren’t a good employee you’ll know that they weren’t right for your culture anyway. On the other side, if you know that you are losing a good driver, you can pinpoint characteristics that you like in that driver, strengthen those areas within the company and focus on those while recruiting.
This is important for retaining, recruiting, and saving/allocating money. If you learn that something you are spending time and money on is not making a difference in keeping drivers happy, you’ll be able to change what you’re doing. Without an exit interview you won’t get honest feedback about company operations, which can lead to wasted efforts.
Just because a driver leaves doesn’t mean they won’t return. Often drivers leave to chase greener pastures, only to realize how valuable working with the original company was. Many companies have success following up with departed drivers 2 weeks to 6 months after they leave and simply check in. The return rate is surprising, as drivers want to return to the company that cared. Funny how we always want what we can’t have!
Although exit interviews are well-intentioned, they are typically held after an employee has made the decision to depart, making them a reactive rather than proactive approach. While they can yield valuable insights into the reasons for an employee’s departure, it’s often too late to remedy the situation and retain the departing employee. The better option? Consistent, immediate feedback that captures employees’ sentiments and experiences in real time, empowering employers to swiftly make data-informed decisions and address issues for their workforce as they unfold.