For the last 18 months, professionals in transportation have seen a flood of media coverage predicting an unavoidable driver shortage. However, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA), the driver population has actually increased since 2016. How can this be? One answer lies in high employee turnover as reported by the FMCA. This high turnover rate may show similar characteristics to a labor-shortage but poses a unique set of challenges for employers. Companies who struggle to retain employees likely incur additional costs due to lost time, re-hiring, re-training, and administrative expenses. Additionally, these companies suffer the cultural cost of frequently rotating and replacing employees.
How can employers get their drivers to stick around and reduce turnover costs in the process? In an attempt to invest in their human capital, successful companies are emphasizing employee engagement, development, and well-being in order to gain a competitive advantage. Enterprises large and small have used the following strategies to increase retention and lower costs:
Engaging employees on the job should be the first step for companies looking to reduce turnover rates. According to a recent Gallup study, 85% of workers report being disengaged at work. This lack of engagement is surely hurting business. The study also states that highly engaged workforces have 41% lower absenteeism, 24% less turnover, 17% higher productivity and 70% fewer safety incidents. Not only will engaged employees stick around for longer, they’ll be more attentive and safer as a result. If you’re not actively engaging your frontline workforce and experiencing these benefits, there’s no better time to start than now.
According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, a whopping 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Luckily, providing employee development opportunities doesn’t have to be time-consuming. By using microlearning methodology, short, bite-sized chunks of relevant information delivered on a consistent cadence, employers can develop their frontlines in a way that doesn’t interfere with operations. On top of the added convenience, this method has also been effective at increasing information retention and the transfer of learning - both key in employee development. By using a microlearning cadence, it may only take a few minutes per week to effectively train employees and show them that their organization cares about them.
A workforce could retain 100% of its employees through engagement and development opportunities, however if they’re regularly missing time or unable to perform at their best because of an injury - it won’t matter. Keeping employees healthy and injury-free has major financial and cultural effects on a workforce. Not only does preventing injuries on the job save companies millions of dollars in direct injury costs, it positively affects employee retention and operational efficiency as well. Hub Group Trucking experienced these effects when they implemented Worklete’s integrated safety program into their workforce training. Hub Group saw improvements in on-time deliveries and overall company culture, which helped them retain their drivers at a higher rate.
Companies who find themselves fighting an uphill battle trying to slow the mythical "2019-2020 Driver Shortage" will be best served focusing effort and investment on employee retention initiatives instead. By investing in the engagement, development, and safety of their employees - companies can set themselves apart and get a leg up in a competitive labor market.