While the legend of St. Valentine is debated among historians and The Catholic Church acknowledges 3 different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, there is one consistent story detail:
Each of them ended in a martyred death.
Their heroic journeys, not limited to the ides of February, were rooted around curing other’s suffering, solving injustice through self sacrifice, and fighting battles of love.
Modern day has reduced it down to 1 day, inspiring gestures of passion and compassion, but it doesn’t have to be that limited. Today is a good day to evaluate all those you “love.”
Maintaining both the optimum number & caliber driver is incredibly difficult. So, on this day, let’s focus on rekindling your professional “shortage.”
[warning: more cheesy Valentines references ahead]
The driver shortage is widely covered and scrutinized. But, what isn’t discussed enough are the underlying reasons. I mean if all the “good ones are gone,” why and where are they going?
It’s like one marriage partner focusing on the fact that there’s not enough “love” in their marriage without trying to really figure out why the “retention” isn’t what they want it to be.
Drivers have one of the (if not the most) demanding and under-appreciated jobs in the country.
You know this. You’ve heard it all… Most are sleep deprived, eat poorly, treated unfairly from the general public and law enforcement, can’t idle to comfortably sleep in their cab, they’re given impractical schedules (especially if they’re new hires), don’t get paid for loading time or miles not calculated, have a dispatcher that is driven by giving orders instead of giving good direction… all while missing their families all for a few cents a mile.
So why do it at all? Some get into the profession from the lure of the open road, a change in pace, and for many, they enter willingly in their family footsteps, knowing the difficulties of the future.
Simply, they do it because they believe in it. They’ve seen the impact it makes and experienced the community you’re initiated into when it’s your profession. A lot of drivers wouldn’t do anything else… But in all likelihood, those drivers are in a respectful, loving relationship.
But let’s be clear: Just like the fundamentals of any affair, this is really about respect.
Love = Respect.
Here are 5 more ideas to show your drivers love today and every day:
1. Start at the beginning. Call your new recruits before orientation.
That’s right. Pick up the phone. Well maybe not YOU in particular, but someone in your organization should call these people you just recruited. You’ve spent a lot of money seeking them out. Show them they were right when they chose your company above the others. And, because someone cares enough to call them just to welcome them and ask if they have any questions before hand, I’d bet that cuts out no-shows.
2. Strongly suggest recruiters attend orientations.
Yes, they get paid to recruit. But what if there was more incentive for the entire on-boarding process or if they had a stake in their driver’s employee satisfaction and retention rate? Once a driver has committed to you, a lot of times they’re abandoned to figure the rest out themselves. This is not a good feeling and will not resonate well as they start their employee journey. If a lack of direction has already left them feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, they’ve probably already started thinking about leaving.
3. Compensate for all of their time.
Don’t you expect to be? People are loyal to people, not companies. Even if you’re a “company man,” your intense allegiance came from somewhere… Another person’s influence. While some may adequately prepare a newbie for the first year, others may advise to “do your year and move on if they’re not good to you.”
In most cases, with all the hardships of the job, satisfaction is most likely not going to be at its peak so rewarding them financially per year, as well as over milestones and mile markers, will increase a driver’s motivation to stay each and every year.
What about a transition and retention bonus structure instead of just a sign-on? You should also take the time to consider the time they spent with another company. It’s a good indicator of the time they’ll invest with you unless you’re the one that lights the devotion fire.
4. Reward the Loyal.
Initiatives for drivers that keep their records in order?
While this already may be part of the job’s best practices, showing appreciation for being personally organized and accountable promotes personal value, confidence in your ability to understand the job, and also back on the road.
Train the faithful & let them educate you.
It’s much cheaper to educate the drivers you have than to keep hiring bad ones. The more you educate your drivers, the better job they’ll do for you and the more loyalty they feel. There may be a bigger sign-on bonus or more attractive route but they will know that these offers are temporary. You give value by investing in them, which in turn, makes you invaluable.
And in turn, the more you solicit feedback from them, the more respect they’ll feel, and then the more pride they’ll take in their job. It’s an unending circle of love!
“If you have 100 % driver turnover, finding drivers is not the problem, retaining drivers is the problem,” Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research.
5. Make love your mantra.
Most companies take pride in being a well-run, profitable, and safe operation. Remember to focus a portion of that verbiage to “driver development” or “employee satisfaction” and it will take shape up and down your organization. If there is focus at the top, it usually translates throughout, indicating to your drivers their professional value.
“The number one and number two reasons for driver turnover are lack of appreciation and lack of respect. The upside with this is that it doesn’t cost you anything to fix this problem. The downside is it requires a big culture change to fix it.” –Kelly Anderson, president and CEO, Impact Transportation Solutions