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Measuring driver turnover in detail


The following is an edited excerpt from Truckload Carriers Associations Driver Retention Project Plan Manual, Chapter 30.

OBJECTIVE: Get much more granular in measuring driver turnover by focusing on sub-categories such as dispatch board, company driver vs. owner-operators, and entry-level drivers. This exercise will reveal where your company strengths and weaknesses are – providing an opportunity to improve overall.

These more focused numbers will give your company a much better understanding of where you stand – and why. This drill-down will focus on the different dispatch boards in your company. Look at your dispatch boards as though they are individual fleets within your company because they are. Different boards cover different regions and various types of services and skills; therefore, they often have different kinds of drivers. These types of drivers are often managed differently by dispatchers. It’s easy to see why some boards are harder to staff than others.

One of the recurring themes in this effort is that we are not looking for bad guys – but low-hanging fruit in different dispatch situations that can provide insights. This more detailed look at turnover may reveal “stars” – boards with lower turnover.

“What is it about some of these boards and dispatchers that allow them to have lower turnover?”

We can emulate their success if we understand it. The boards are different so measure their retention in detail, find out why they are different, and tune your actions accordingly.

In our company, we had six different dispatch boards (three flatbed, three van) defined by geography and trailer configuration. For each board, we calculated the same short- and long-term turnover rates that we have already done for the entire driver team. Use the same short- and long-term calculation formulas shown for the whole company and do the same for each of your dispatch boards, divisions or even terminals.

At our company, the monthly reports were based on six different dispatch boards that produced two turnover numbers for each board. Moreover, I would also receive the overall and short-term numbers for the entire fleet. So that was 14 reports each month. We found this to be very insightful. So much so that more details seemed like a good idea – and it was. So, we looked even deeper.

At our fleet, we had 100 company drivers and 200 owner-operators, and we decided that we wanted to measure each group separately. So now we are at 28 separate monthly reports. You’ll realize soon enough that once you get the formulas up to date, these reports are not difficult to generate. They all use the same data, just broken down into finer sub-categories. It’s not nearly as complicated as it first seems.

This set of dispatch board calculations is not done merely out of interest. By doing them monthly, you will now track your progress going forward. Produce these numbers every month and monitor which are going up or down as you introduce improvements toward reducing your turnover. Which of your new initiatives is having the most significant impact and where? With these monthly numbers, you can track progress in real-time and react to the effectiveness (or not) of those new things you are doing. Measure, watch, and learn.

I said we were not looking for bad guys, but we are looking for stars. What and who is working well with your dispatch team? What can we learn from these bright spots? What are the traits of these successful dispatch boards? Use this insight to make process or style improvements among dispatchers or to hire more people in the future with these same behavioral traits.

Apart from the insights we can obtain from these more detailed turnover numbers, keep in mind that things are often affected merely by measuring them. The act (and awareness) of measuring tends to shine a light on positive trends and accelerate improvements through this awareness. From now on, you will have monthly turnover numbers by dispatch board to monitor trends, spikes, and leading indicators – in close to real-time. As stated earlier, this is not an arduous task once it is set up. It flows well from things you are already doing, and it is essential to tracking and tuning our activities as you go forward with this project to reduce driver turnover.

Before you get started let’s note that it is imperative here to include all drivers in these calculations no matter if they left on their own, were terminated, retired or left for health or family issues. At this point why, they aren’t at your company now doesn’t matter. We are just looking for the exact bottom line of the turnover problem.

First, we are going to calculate the overall (or long-term) company driver turnover rate, using this formula:

Drivers no longer with the company year to date, divided by the elapsed calendar days multiplied by 365 divided by your total number of drivers.

Now you have the overall company turnover, and you can easily now do the same exercise by dispatch board.

Now we are going to determine our 12-month, or our short-term turnover rate. This looks at a sub-set of our drivers – those who have been hired within the last 12 months. Please note, this is an important distinction because we all know that the longer an employee stays with us, the less likely they are to leave. For our short-term turnover, use this formula:

Drivers hired in the last 12 months that have left the company divided by all drivers hired during the previous 12 months.

In coming articles, I will share additional elements of the TCA TPP Driver Retention Project Plan that will hopefully assist you in getting a handle on your companies’ driver turnover efforts.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you require additional clarification on the above, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Safe trucking.


Ray Haight

Ray Haight

Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations.
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