Why Driver Retention Is The New Recruiting

driver retention

There’s a massive problem with driver retention in the trucking industry, but most companies are hesitant to seek any outside help about it. This creates an “if you ignore it, it will go away” situation where companies heavily invest in recruitment but almost completely ignore retaining their drivers. 

But the problems are here to stay and they can only be changed if companies actively work on them. Before we jump into solutions for the driver retention problem, let’s look at the current state of the trucking industry data. 

Let’s look at the driver retention data

There are multiple problems when it comes to driver retention. The following data explains it the best: 

  • The industry-wide annual turnover rate has an average of over 90%. It’s not uncommon for trucking companies to experience even a 100% turnover rate on an annual basis which means that they go through their entire driver roster in a span of a year. 
  • There’s a massive shortage of truck drivers in general— According to the ATA (American Trucking Association), there’s a shortage of around 61,000 truckers. This creates a vacuum for many trucking companies who are having problems hiring (and retaining) truck drivers. 
  • The cost per trucker turnover varies, but the average is around $11,500. For a trucking company hiring 100 truck drivers and a turnover rate of 90%, the cost skyrockets to over $1 million a year. And that’s only the cost of driver turnover. 
  • A demanding lifestyle of a truck driver and a lack of perspective and empathy from the back office. Being a truck driver is one of the most demanding jobs in today’s economy. 

A demanding lifestyle of a truck driver is a major cause of the driver retention problem. But this is also the area where companies can most likely influence a solution. Companies can do a lot to improve workplace conditions and driver retention, from better salary structures to leveraging new technologies to improving culture. So let’s look in detail at the ways a company can improve its driver retention plan/strategy/vision. 

4 things companies need to do to retain truck drivers

Instead of investing only in recruiting new talent, the companies will need to start investing in retaining that talent. As we have seen from the numbers above, there’s a massive shortage of truck drivers and the company’s priority needs to become retention. Here are four ways a company can do that: 

Salary structure

Did you know that there are at least 11 types of truck driver pay? It’s no wonder that truck drivers get confused and don’t understand their salary structures. 

“What we know is that when drivers are clear in the understanding about pay and how it works and how much they can expect to be paid, they are more satisfied with their work and ultimately the company they work with.”Max Farrell, WorkHound CEO and co-founder.

Companies will need to simplify the way that they structure the wages for their truck drivers if they want to retain them. Drivers want to eliminate any unproductive or unpaid time and the clearer understanding they have about the salary incentives and structure, the less unproductive time they will have. 

Investing in job safety

Companies will need to invest in job safety to increase driver retention. Out of the 25 deadliest occupations in the US, being a truck driver ranks seventh. A couple of things companies can do to increase safety are: 

  • Elevate route safety
  • Increase vehicle safety through regimented and routine preventive maintenance
  • Coach drivers in defensive driving and avoiding distractions
  • Encourage rest and breaks
  • Reward good driving/behavior (hint: Driver Of The Month)

Improving culture

Companies will need to change the internal and external image that they have as trucking companies.

The internal image is about adopting a more professional outlook toward their truck drivers and investing time and education into them. This will help with driver retention. In addition, we at WorkHound, have given voice to thousands of truck drivers through our anonymous feedback platform. 

“It’s little things, like listening and working with the drivers every day a little more. WorkHound gives us a guide on how to get out of our own way.” Casey Lehman, Director of Recruiting and Retention at Fort Transfer.

The external image is about branding and the public image about the job. Since there’s a big shortage of truck drivers, the companies will need to invest in communication channels with the public (like social media) to increase the number of quality applicants for the available jobs. 

Leveraging new technologies

Companies will need to leverage new technologies that help out in every facet of their business. Here are a couple of innovations that your company can leverage: 

  • Communication apps that improve feedback, create a two-way communication channel, and speed up the communication process between truck drivers and their managers 
  • Invest in new fleet management tools 
  • Applying Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance services to increase safety and lower costs
  • Use dispatch management services that help with weather updates and traffic maps
  • Invest in real-time GPS tracking
  • Offer electronic bill-of-lading tools to streamline drivers’ experiences at shippers


Most trucking companies invest heavily into recruiting new people for work. But as we have seen, there’s a massive truck driver shortage, with driver turnover above 95%. Companies who haven’t already will need to start re-allocating some of their recruitment funds into retaining their drivers because driver retention is the new recruiting. 

If you want more help with driver retention, you can have a quick chat with one of our driver retention experts.

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