T hink of all the time and attention we focus on spec'ing new equipment for the fleet. Do we spend even half as much in "spec'ing" a new driver? That incisive question was posed years ago by an indust...
September 1, 2008
Lou Smyrlis, Editorial Director
Think of all the time and attention we focus on spec’ing new equipment for the fleet. Do we spend even half as much in “spec’ing” a new driver? That incisive question was posed years ago by an industry speaker whose name I’ve long since forgotten but whose insight I never did.
Yes, there are carriers with sophisticated recruitment and retention practices but I’ll gladly spot you $1,000 for every one of those that can make such a claim if you spot me $10 for every carrier that can’t. That it be so is particularly curious when you consider trucks are on 4-to 5-year lifecycles within most fleets while an employee could last 25 years or more with a carrier. And, let’s face it, as complicated as the new truck engines may be, they’re a picnic compared to understanding what attracts, motivates, frustrates or sours a company driver or owner/operator to the job.
The focus on dealing with the qualified driver shortage has dissipated over the past two years. There seem to be so many more pressing problems to deal with right now. But we believe that not having an effective driver recruitment and retention strategy in place will restrict motor carriers’ ability to grow when the economy does rebound.
Being able to put all the pieces of the driver puzzle together -what makes drivers choose one carrier over another, how do drivers want to be recognized and rewarded, how do their relationships with immediate supervisors affect their mood, what pleases them, what disappoints them, just how stressed or satisfied are they in their demanding jobs? -are the types of questions our third annual Driver Satisfaction Survey has been designed to answer. We believe this understanding, piecing together the puzzle if you will, is the first critical step towards effective recruitment and retention strategies.
For the past three years, our research division, Transportation Media Research, has spent considerable time surveying company drivers and owner/operators across the country -through e-mail, focus groups and at industry events -to get to the heart of the critical questions we’ve mentioned and more.
Taking on a research project of this size is a considerable undertaking and would not have been possible without the help and support of our founding sponsor, Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. and our supporting partner, the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC). It speaks to their commitment to this industry that they have chosen to support such research year after year.
Our greatest thanks goes out to the hundreds of drivers across the country who took time out of their very busy schedules to once again respond to our questionnaire. Thank you for making our research project a success.
We hope the results of our survey are considered by both fleet managers and the drivers they employ in the spirit in which our research was intended and conducted: as a good starting point towards better understanding the driver-fleet manager relationship and what is required to make it most effective.