How Truck Fleets Can Improve Employee Retention
With the labor shortage continuing in 2022, retaining top performers grows difficult. Attracting new talent with high employee turnover trends can be equally tricky.
Implementing useful technologies and offering incentives can go a long way in decreasing employee disengagement for improved retention and new talent acquisition.
Understanding Employee Turnover
While we may be able to answer the simple question of "what is employee turnover," understanding the trends and drivers and being able to calculate employee turnover is a challenge. As labor shortages continue to plague the workforce, the necessity of employee retention is at an all-time high. And with many current fleet industry workers getting closer to retirement, new talent acquisition is equally important. Since the pandemic, however, employers witnessed a Great Resignation as many individuals reevaluated their priorities.
“In 2021 [...] over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs — an unprecedented mass exit from the workforce,” according to Harvard Business Review.
While the trucking industry has seen a steadier retention rate in 2022 after bumping up drivers’ pay — demonstrating a positive response to monetary incentives — the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that the truck driver shortage will remain near its historical high at nearly 78,000 drivers, “the second highest levels on record after 81,258 in 2021.”
In other fleet-reliant industries, employers are experiencing low employee satisfaction and higher rates of disengagement and burnout.
“Drivers must interact with various company employees, represent the company to the outside world, and try to meet customers’ expectations,” according to a driver burnout study from Walton College. “When the aforementioned factors are combined with long hours, loneliness, heavy workloads, and seemingly impossible deadlines, stress can eventually progress to burnout. Burnout impacts drivers’ personal life, health, and job performance. It can also cause them to quit.”
For fleet technicians, contributing factors to burnout include inefficient processes and frustrations around poor or ineffective communication.
Digital business solutions, including integrated fleet management software (FMS), improve workflow management through automation while streamlining communication. Additionally, the level of insights provided by these solutions makes it easy to view in-depth operational analytics.
This analysis allows stakeholders to rightsize fleet operations, reduce unnecessary costs, and make room in the budget for employee incentives. These incentives can include the following:
- New asset procurement.
- Pay increases or productivity bonuses.
- Sign-on bonuses.
- Workplace improvements.
Incentivizing Employee Retention and Talent Acquisition
One way to improve employees’ work-life balance is an integrated FMS. It automates workflows, improves employee communication, and reduces daily stressors and frustrations.
Digital inspections allow drivers and operators to complete and submit forms via a mobile app. Inspections are submitted in real-time, and when an item fails, the software automatically notifies management to kick off the service process to address issues quickly.
Similarly, technicians can pull digital work orders on their tablets or smartphones. Techs can clock in and out and communicate directly within digital work orders, consolidating and improving visibility around task-oriented communication. These features can drastically reduce wasted time in the shop and on the road and facilitate improved response times to employee concerns and asset issues.
Making Room in the Fleet Budget
Regardless of the incentive type, the money to back offered incentives must come from somewhere. When updating the fleet budget, it may be a good idea to allocate a percentage to incentive efforts — which is likely easier said than done.
Fleets can gain budgetary flexibility by rightsizing their operation and getting better control over fuel and service spend. By evaluating productivity metrics such as fleet utilization and downtime, managers can determine if and how to scale up or down to meet business demand without overtaxing employees or assets.
Additionally, work truck fleets can use integrated FMS to automatically collect and aggregate data for improved fleet-wide insights. Configurable reporting ensures managers can quickly surface key productivity and expense metrics to determine costly issues, including:
- Fuel misuse/theft.
- Recurring asset faults.
- Imbalanced asset utilization.
- Ineffective preventive maintenance (PM) schedules.
- Poor compliance rates.
These insights can help fleets better control expenses to make room in the budget for employee incentives.
When considering employee incentives, monetary compensation is usually top of mind — and for a good reason. Competitive compensation and rewarding top achievers with productivity bonuses are great ways to retain employees and attract new talent.
However, money isn’t the be-all and end-all in the current labor market. Even well-compensated employees can become disengaged if not presented with growth opportunities, feel overlooked or under-appreciated, or if workload volumes contribute to poor work-life balance.
Whether it’s coaching and empowering individuals to rise through the ranks or simply supplying them with tools to grow and improve in their careers, providing growth opportunities is a great employee incentive. When employers invest in their team members this way, it creates a culture of value — showing the company values its employees and their future — and improves engagement.