Driver Treatment: An Underlying Issue - News

Driver Treatment: An Underlying Issue

Brandon Scott - Staff Writer
Apr 1st 2022 8:00AM

In today’s volatile employment economy - the same atmosphere many of us are accustomed to traversing on a daily basis - it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we all have experienced similar plights and pitfalls to what our country’s drivers are frequently facing day-in and day-out.

Driver treatment is something that we should all be more aware of. Especially when it comes to the notion that there are increasingly less drivers to pluck from the trucking pool, and it seems many are deciding to forgo wading into the frigid waters of transportation and logistics altogether.

Driver Recruitment

When launching into initial discussions with drivers or individual owner operators, it should never be lost on the recruiter that whomever they are speaking with must be tended to such as a gardener oversees the watering of their plants. Drivers are a scarce commodity to come by these days, and many of these folks are alluding to the notion that they are disinterested in driving, or any contracting opportunities, due to previous experiences with prior employers.

A recruiter not only has the task of attempting to entice a driver to join the ranks of road warriors, but to also listen to their new recruit as they try to unpack their most recent trials and tribulations. This happens more often than not.

It’s difficult in some ways because most drivers, especially those who reside in the land of expedite, are individual owner operators looking for a place to sign their truck on. Or they’re independent contracting drivers who don’t own their own truck and are therefore interested in driving for a fleet owner.

In any case, these folks are people who are coming from a previous situation where maybe they were not properly compensated for their work. Or perhaps they were treated poorly by their fleet owner, their dispatcher, or even the company they were representing.

It’s not uncommon for today’s driver to site lack of respect, poor compensation, or lackadaisical treatment as reasons why they’re uninterested in joining forces with a trucking company. In some instances, these folks who are the backbone to America’s transportation infrastructure, drivers end up walking away from a profession that they love; convinced that the love isn’t being reciprocated.

Driver Retention

Ask any driver about why they’re leaving their previous company and they’re surely going to inform you that they’ve had more than a few negative experiences.

Many drivers and owner operators have stated that they are flat-out leaving the industry due to low wages and a lack of benefits, even things like not being paid for downtime or extra miles. Most will site the lack of respect being shown them by the companies they drive for as a major factor in leaving one for another. Or just leaving the profession, period.

The ongoing shortage of truck drivers across the nation has most recently been highlighted by continued supply chain issues at the nation’s ports, which has prompted many companies to raise their rate of pay, or to offer larger wages and sign-on bonuses in an effort to attract more drivers.

The problem with most wage hikes and proposed bonuses is that drivers are typically expected to reach some heightened level of criteria, like unrealistic miles quotas, in order to unlock the additional income. In most cases these additional bonuses are paid out incrementally, in which the driver must remain with the company for a year or longer just to obtain these lofty goals.

Here’s a simpler idea, though. Try treating our drivers with equal levels of appreciation and respect. The additional pay and bonus structures are indeed a good start, and a handy tool to have in any retention arsenal. But letting drivers know just how much they mean to an organization is every bit as equally important.

Most companies, specifically the larger entities, have a driver retention or diver relations department that will handle driver issues on a daily basis. Those people should have the ability, within reason, to authorize additional bonus funding to drivers and owner operators when performance merits such a measure.

How many times are we going to allow such valuable assets to simply walk out the door because they were treated wrong or denied the opportunity to grow and progress within an organization? It seems a smart place to start would be in encouraging companies to develop their driver retention roles and processes, as opposed to just watching what swings through the ever-revolving door.

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