A truck driver turnover rate that hit 95% in the third quarter of 2017 is one of the critical factors in the driver shortage that's pinching trucking capacity, according to a study by Stay Metrics.
The study found 35% of drivers leave a company within the first three months, and 70% leave within the first year.
The biggest factor in driver turnover is dissatisfaction with recruiters and dispatchers. Age and experience don't matter as much as effective communication, especially in the early stages of a driver's time with a company.
With driver turnover hitting historic rates, Stay Metrics collected data from more than 62,000 drivers at over 104 trucking companies to better understand why drivers leave companies.
"The most recent report highlights the value of recruiting with driver retention in mind and using survey data at critical periods of the employment lifecycle to reduce driver turnover,” Tim Hindes, chief executive officer of Stay Metrics, said in a press release.
In some cases, survey results went against conventional wisdom. For example, the age of the driver was not a predictor of a short tenure. In other words, drivers segmented into five-year age groups left at about the same rate.
It turns out the 45th day of a driver's employment is a critical time. At that point, a driver's dissatisfaction with their recruiter leads drivers to quit within the first 90 days. Because the recruiter is the driver's first and most frequent contact with the company early on, drivers value a recruiter who delivers clear, accurate information about the work.
Relationships with dispatchers were also critical to longevity, and dissatisfaction can signal early turnover.
Drivers with high recruiter satisfaction have a 22% lower turnover rate in the first three months compared to those with low satisfaction, the study found. Likewise, high dispatcher satisfaction is associated with 16% lower early turnover.
Drivers with at least one year of experience are slightly more likely than drivers with less time on the job to quit early in their employment. However, once drivers with more than one year of experience stay at a job for a year, they are less likely to leave.
One of the most useful indicators to measure likelihood of retention was how drivers felt about the company, as measured by their answer to the following question: "On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend the carrier you are currently working for to other drivers." Those who answered 0 to 6 were more likely to leave regardless of their tenure with the company. Yet, about half of the drivers who left a carrier within three months would still promote it to other drivers.