Why is there so much Turnover in the Trucking Industry?otrdriving
Driver turnover in the trucking industry is on the rise:
If you are a driver you have probably seen firsthand the effects of driver turnover within the trucking industry. Many drivers have worked for multiple trucking companies in the last few years and few drivers are finding driving jobs that offer stable employment which allows them to settle down and build longevity with a single employer. Many trucking companies have a consistent revolving door with new drivers coming into the company and current drivers leaving the company. A trucking company may bring in 20 new drivers into orientation to replace the 21 drivers that quit or was terminated the previous week. Turnover within the trucking industry is not just isolated to a few companies, instead, turnover is widespread and it is a grim reality that has negative consequences for both the driver and the trucking company. Most drivers that we have talked to are aware that there are turnover problems that exist primarily in the for hire truckload sector, but what they may not understand is how severe the problem is or how it effects them. In an attempt to better understand this we want to take a more in depth look at the turnover problem within the transportation industry to help educate the general public and job seeking truck drivers on exactly how trucking industry turnover impacts a driver’s future job search.
What are the facts? How much driver turnover is there in the trucking industry?
According to the most recent data published by the American Trucking Associations “the annualized turnover rate for large truckload fleets rose two percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 102%, the second straight quarter it was at least 100% – the first such streak since 2012.”
Knowing that the trucking industry is currently facing upwards of 100% turnover may not adequately explain the severity of how bad the turnover problem is within the trucking industry. For example, let’s say a trucking company has a current driver fleet size of 500 drivers. If this company has 100% turnover it means that they need to bring in 500 new drivers in a 1 year time period just to maintain the same number of 500 drivers in their fleet. What this means is that a large percentage of the trucking companies fleet size is comprised of drivers that have been with the company for less than 1 year.
Let this thought sink in for a minute. At any given moment a trucking company that has been in business for years might have a fleet size that is primarily composed of drivers that have been with them for a short amount of time, in many cases less than 1 year.
Why is there so much driver turnover in the trucking industry?
Once you realize that the trucking industry is plagued with turnover the next logical question to ask is why? There are multiple variables at play, but here is a list of common reasons that we think causes turnover within the trucking industry.
The current CDL driver shortage causes increased competition among trucking companies for the same driver.
Increase competition forces trucking companies into offering enticing sing on bonus, higher pay packages, and other new hire incentives to attract new drivers away from their current employer. In a way, the trucking industry is creating its own turnover due to the nature of the recruiting process within the trucking industry. In addition, many trucking companies are able to give the driver a job offer the same day that they apply. When truck drivers are able to find work this quickly it promotes turnover because drivers always have another employer on the back burner that they can go work for whenever things turn sour with their current employer.
Unforeseen problems causes the driver to have a bad week.
Trucking is like Murphy’s Law. Basically, whatever can go wrong will go wrong for drivers who run OTR. Think about it. The driver’s truck may break down, loads may be cancelled, weather may cause the driver to get shut down, pre plans are not ready like planned, shippers or receivers create unexpected delays, companies offer low miles, drivers run out of hours, etc., etc. Anyone one of these problems can cause a driver to have a bad week. When a driver has a bad week they tend to get upset with their current employer. It may be the companies fault or it might not, but regardless of whose fault it is when drivers get upset they start the process of looking for new work with other prospective employers. Since drivers are able to find work so quickly it means they may sometimes quit their current employer prematurely based off of anger.
Some drivers may fail to rationalize their problems before decided to quit their current employer.
Sometimes the grass in not always greener and drivers find out that jumping from one employer to another does not solve any problems for them. What happens is that drivers can be so eager to quit one employer that they end up taking a job with a different employer that ends up being worse than their first employer. I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “Out of the frying pan, into the fryer.” This concept applies to truck drivers as well. When drivers go from bad to worse more turnover is created because a truck driver will not stick it out with a trucking company that ends up being worse than the company they just left.
Drivers feel like they were lied too about the job.
Recruiters may misrepresent the details of the job or maybe the driver did not ask all of the proper questions. Whatever the case, when drivers feel like they were misled or lied to they get a bad first impression about the trucking company. Due to this, every additional problem that the driver faces ends up adding to the negative feeling they have about the trucking company. Once the driver gets fed up with the company they start looking for new work. Retention starts with recruiting. The recruiting process can go a long way into determining how prepared a driver is about what to expect when taking a new job. Once recruiting offers the driver the job and goes over all the details the responsibility now shifts to operations to make sure that what was committed to the driver is followed through with. Sometimes recruiting may have over promised the driver, other times operations is under delivering. Either scenario will promote turnover.
Trucking companies do not always live up to what was offered to the driver.
Dispatch and or operations is not delivering what was committed to the driver. We are sure that every driver has at one point and time face this scenario. A driver start a new job and their recruiter told them 2500 miles per week and home every 2 weeks. After the drivers 3rd week miles decrease to 2200 miles and the company was not able to get the driver home on that 2nd There are numerous excuses to why this may be the case, but whenever this scenario occurs it is hard for the driver to not look at it like he was lied to or the driver feels like the company just doesn’t care. Drivers start thinking that trucking companies feel like drivers are replaceable so there is little urgency to solve a driver’s problem or go the extra mile to help them succeed. When a driver starts feeling this way about a trucking company they are going to turnover by looking for new work elsewhere.
How does turnover effect the driver?
We have already provided some insight into why there might be so much turnover within the trucking industry, but why should a driver care? How does turnover effect new hires?
Drivers with a lot of jobs reduce their chances of being hired by a company that offers stable employment.
The more jobs a driver has on their work history the less and less trucking companies are going to want to offer the driver a job. We understand that turnover is not always the drivers fault. We have already covered why there is turnover, but let’s say a driver has had 5 employers in the last year. Well, this means that when the driver applies for another truck driving job their prospective employer is going to look at their application and say “Why is this driver quitting so much?” or “Why can’t this driver be happy with any employer he works for’. Trucking companies are not always going to sympathize with why the driver has had so many jobs, instead, the trucking company is going to turned off from the offering the driver a job due to fear that they would be hiring their own turnover. If the company is going to be the drivers 10th employer in the last 3 years then it means the driver is only averaging 4 months per employer. To many trucking companies the driver becomes another statistic. This does not mean that all turnover is bad, but it does mean that drivers who have a repeat pattern of job jumping should be aware that the more they change jobs the less and less attractive they will be to future employers.
High turnover at a trucking company can lead to poor equipment due to repetitive truck changes.
Typically, a driver that stays with a trucking company long enough will eventually get place into the company’s better equipment, but this may not happen right away. This usually means that new hires are seated into the companies open equipment at the time they start. Usually, the open equipment ends up being the turnover tractors. Think of this process as a never ending cycle. The more drivers in the same truck the more wear and tear it causes. This constant turnover means that the same trucks keep turning over which further puts more wear and tear on the equipment. Poor equipment might end up further influencing more turnover. New hires do not appreciate being placed in trucks that have a history of turnover and the truth is that the new hire will never know how many drivers their tractor has seen in its lifetime. Also, for many trucking companies the average new driver will last less than 120 days with the company before turning over. If this is true then it is not hard to imagine how the same tractor may see 4+ drivers within a 1 year time frame and some tractors might see substantially more drivers.
High turnover increases the companies overhead cost due to recruiting replacement drivers.
Recruiting drivers is an expensive cost for many trucking companies. Think about all the costs that go into recruiting a truck driver.
- Advertising cost
- Background check cost
- Processing cost
- Travel expenses
- Hotel and lodging arrangements while the driver is in orientation
- Food and meals
- Sign on Bonus or other new hire incentives
- Orientation pay
- Cost to get the turnover tractors detailed and cleaned for new hires. New mattresses.
- Recruiter Pay
- Driver referral pay if any
These cost of just scratching the service, but the point is that is costs trucking companies a lot of time and money to recruit drivers. Trucking companies that have a lot of turnover end up spending more money on hiring drivers which decreases the trucking company’s profitability. In effect, this means there is less money available for driver wages, better equipment, retention programs, etc. This is another one of those scenarios where the more turnover a company has the harder it becomes to ever correct the problem. Think about it for a second –for a company to fix their turnover problem they need diagnose why their drivers are leaving. If there drivers are leaving because pay is too low it means they need to pay their drivers higher wages. How does a company how room in their operating expenses to pay higher wages if a large portion of their budget it going to recruiting more drivers? The company may afford to pay their drivers more money if they could reduce their turnover, but now we enter into a chicken or the egg scenario. Overall this is an over simplistic view of the problem of turnover, but the general point is that trucking companies spend so much on recruiting expenses that it may take away money that could be used to provide a better place to work for the driver.
What can the driver do to reduce driver turnover?
After reading this article hopefully you are a little more educated about trucking turnover and what it means for both the driver and the trucking company. Turnover is a viscous cycle, a constant revolving door and with the growing driver shortage we do not anticipate it changing anytime soon. With that said, is there anything the driver can do to reduce their chances of turnover? To us, our biggest piece of advice for the driver is that they should take it upon themselves to research their future employer as best as they can before accepting a new job. Read our article about 5 tips all new driver should follow when searching for a new truck driving job. This article should give help you analysis your job offers to make sure you are choosing a job that best meets your needs. Also, if you care about helping other drivers then we ask that you take time to visit our trucking company review directory. Please help by submitting reviews about other trucking companies that you may have worked for. Collectively, if the truck driving community speaks out for the good and bad trucking companies in the industry to might help reduce future turnover for truck drivers by educating other drivers on the pros and cons of potential trucking companies.
 Turnover at Large Truckload Fleets Rose to 102% in Fourth Quarter. (2016, April 25). Retrieved June 08, 2016, from http://www.trucking.org/article.aspx?uid=e1bdd516-e113-4667-9644-838c097c307e