Not sustainable, the hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars spent on driver turnover. This kind of profit drain cannot continue if your aim is to maintain, increase your profits.
The cause of high driver turnover has been industry acceptance. The drivers blame management and management points the finger at drivers. However, it is time to stop the finger pointing and take some positive action.
The question is what is one thing you can do now that will have a positive impact. That action, in a word is recognition. Consistently drivers have told us yes, we want good pay but we desire honest appreciation and respect. One driver teasingly told me sometimes he feels like the comedian Rodney Dangerfield, "I tell ya, I don't get no respect."
Recognition is acknowledging the significance and/or the contribution of a person or group for their service or work. Recognition is about reinforcing positive behavior and performance. Fact, "that which gets recognized or rewarded gets done, gets repeated."
The heart and soul of recognition then is the reinforcement of positive behavior and actions. This means, if you want the driver not just to stay, but perform with excellence you must treat him like a professional. You recognize the skills, knowledge and expertise it takes to drive a semi-tractor-trailer safely, in all conditions, consistently on time.
Recognitions can take many forms that include: miles driven accident free, specific safety awards and on-time delivery. However, here is one you may not have tried that can have immediate impact.
Twice a week have each fleet manager show specific and genuine appreciation to one or two drivers. This can be as simple as saying "thank you" or "Tom I want you to know we count on the good work you do." The reaction you'll most likely get from drivers will range from "gee" -- "really – "thanks," to stunned silence. However, if you could see their faces the smiles would tell you, your words hit home. More importantly, the good performance was reinforced.
Consider what Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines does. He helps flight attendants serve beverages to customers when he flies on Southwest. Why, Kelleher says: "It unleashes a tremendous amount of energy and pride among my fellow workers." Please note the term "fellow workers." Kelleher went on to say that in working side by side with his fellow workers they instantly see that he dosesn't believe their work is beneath the dignity of the president to do. (For more recognition ideas, see the book – "1001 Ways" by Bob Nelson)
Bottom line – the retention challenge is now one of the golden keys to driver turnover and consistent profit. The ball is now in your court for without action the driver merry-go-round will continue at a faster pace, with absolutely, horrible consequences.