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June 3, 2021 2:30 PM, EDT

Despite Retention Issues, Most Truck Drivers Not Looking for Work

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The majority of truck drivers are not actively looking for a new job, but a robust recruiting environment makes it easy for them to find one should they want to make a move, a recent industry survey found.

The survey also found that addressing the issues that matter to drivers can help fleets retain those they have.

“It is a competitive market right now. And I think where you’re seeing a lot of the turnover is drivers that are just finding another job — not because they’re looking, but because it sought them out,” said Scott Dismuke, director of operations for The Professional Driver Agency, which helps carriers with retention efforts. “Drivers aren’t necessarily looking for jobs, but they’re not having any issue changing jobs.”

According to the “Data Download: Examining Driver Opinions in Today’s Driver Market” report — released May 27 and completed in partnership by PDA and recruiting firm Conversion Interactive Agency — 63.6% of drivers are not seeking other employment. Of those, 73.6% said they were happy with their current jobs, and therefore were not looking for a new one.

“Most of the drivers — if they weren’t looking — the reason was because they were happy where they were,” Priscilla Peters, Conversion Interactive vice president of marketing and training, told Transport Topics.

Dismuke told TT the report’s findings caught his eye given recent trends.

“Initially, I thought that this was a high number because we’re seeing turnover — we’re seeing that turnover is going up right now,” he said. “So I thought that the number would be a little bit higher for drivers that said they were looking for a job.”

American Trucking Associations reported that fourth-quarter turnover for truckload fleets with more than $30 million in annual revenue was 92%, and the churn rate for smaller TL carriers was 72%.

Dismuke noted that carriers have been increasing pay, as well as exploring different pay models and getting more creative with marketing and offering benefits such as more time at home — tactics that could attract drivers who aren’t necessarily unhappy.

“Fleets are investing more and more in their recruitment marketing,” Peters said. “It’s important to target not only drivers who are aggressively looking for a job, but it is important to also target those who are just passively reading content about the industry or wanting to learn something about other carriers.”

The survey found that home time was important to 72.3% of survey respondents, along with weekly pay guarantees (44.7%), equipment quality (41.4%) and health care benefits (33.5%).

“We’ve seen over the past year several carriers say, ‘We’re going to increase the pay,’ ” Peters said. “In many cases, what we’re seeing is it’s not moving the needle because the home time isn’t as good as the driver needs it to be. If you look at those top-view things that are most attractive to the driver, it’s really weekly guarantees related to pay and then home time. And so I think that carriers have to be careful not to just focus on pay.”

Peters also noted that the report found 36.4% of drivers are looking for a new job, a significant percentage and an indication that many drivers are not happy. She said drivers can build brand preferences based on the marketing they see, and will be more likely to think of the competitor that was marketing to them if they decide to make a move.

“When you look at it from a driver standpoint, they can be happy today and tomorrow they’re not,” Peters said. “They can be happy right now and next week they have issues with their equipment or they don’t get home when they needed to be home. One specific event can really make a shift in a driver’s decision and their view on their current employer.”

The survey was conducted April 19-May 7. It was sent to 16,446 commercial drivers, and 1,212 responses were received.

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