Everybody’s asking the same question: How do we find and retain drivers? I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about it. Heck, we’re tired of talking about it, but that won’t make it go away; fleets need to hire and retain truck drivers faster than they ever have before.
The best way to do that is to ensure that perspective truck drivers are attracted to the job. And the best way to attract them to the job is to make the job attractive! The first step in doing that is to take care that you present a workforce that is happy and engaged – but how do you do that?
What is Employee Engagement?
Truck drivers are no different from other workers. They want to be engaged with their job. They want to know the work they are doing is making a difference, and they want to have a say in how it’s carried out.
Engaged employees have buy-in; they feel connected to the success of the organization. They work harder, want to succeed more, and are less likely to jump ship. Anecdotal evidence shows that employee engagement may be even more important than pay and benefits in retaining truck drivers.
A survey done in 2012 by the Gallup polling agency revealed that companies that were high in employee engagement routinely outperformed those who weren’t, in areas such as customer ratings, profitability, and productivity.
The fact is if an employee discovers meaning in his or her work, then they are driven by an internal fire to ensure that work gets done and gets done well.
Why Doesn’t Pay Matter?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, because pay does matter. There’s a reason why so many fleets are raising pay and increasing bonuses. It does have an effect. But that doesn’t mean it is the answer to everything.
Another study found that pay is actually of limited value when it comes to retaining truck drivers. This comes mainly from the “intrinsic effect,” which assigns internal motives for producing, rather than the “extrinsic effect,” which assigns external motivations for producing.
This study analyzed data from more than 70 carriers. It found that higher-performing fleets score high in areas that denote an employee’s willingness or desire to stay with the company. The areas measured included how the company evaluates employee performance, how fair the company is, and how secure the employee feels in their future with the company.
What Really Matters
The study asked four main questions:
- I am proud I work for (X) company.
- I trust the leadership at (X) company.
- The leadership at (X) company supports my success.
- If things go the way I expect, I plan to be at (X) company a year from now.
The questions were designed to gauge an employee’s “emotional anchoring” to their job. It helps to better identify who they are as a person and what motivates them.
Things like loyalty, pride, and tasks that require discretionary effort and willingness, can all be gleaned through the answers to these questions. Everyone is paid to do a job, but those who are highly engaged will go above and beyond the call of duty almost every time.
If you are having a hard time figuring out how to keep your employees motivated and engaged, you must consider some very basic principles.
Keep these ideas in mind when you are mapping out an employee engagement strategy:
- Gotta’ have R.E.S.P.E.C.T.: If youre employees don’t feel like you care about or respect them, the first place they will head towards is the door. Treat them like an asset and they will perform like one.
- Recruit for Success: You need to make sure you have your employee engagement plan in place before you even hire people. Immediately engaged people tend to stay engaged.
- Communicate Clearly: Don’t leave your truck drivers feeling alone and isolated in the cab. Keep lines of communication open and constant.
While there are surely other aspects to employee engagement, from rewards to promotion opportunities, it’s how you treat people that really matters. The best way out of the employment crunch is to focus on engaging those that directly impact your bottom line: The employees.