Successful onboarding: 5 strategies to retain new drivers


Another week passes. New drivers are once again in your office for orientation meetings. Some look excited to be here; others are more difficult to read.

Quietly, you wonder who will beat the odds this time.

On average, more than one-third of new hires will quit in the first 90 days of employment and 55 percent of drivers will leave within 180 days.

Early employee turnover is not singular to trucking, says Dr. John Kammeyer-Mueller, professor at the University of Minnesota and Stay Metrics Scientific Advisory Board member.

Dr. Kammeyer-Mueller is an expert on onboarding, the process by which employees adjust to new jobs. He says that drivers, like other workers in professions he researches, have already made up their minds about what their new job will be like before they arrive for orientation.

They have come to your office with expectations for miles, pay, home time and other aspects of the job. Stay Metrics research shows drivers with a shortage of industry experience, mismatched job expectations — particularly with respect to home time — and poor relationships with dispatchers are the most likely to quit within the first 90 days.

These findings come from more than 24,000 active drivers and 80 motor carrier clients that contribute data to our research and analytics platform. Our research also shows what will move the needle for driver retention, specific to each client, for the critical orientation and onboarding process.

Here are five recommendations for where to focus your onboarding efforts in 2017 to make a difference, starting now:

  • Message alignment. Communicate a consistent message to drivers during recruiting, orientation and onboarding. This message should include specifics for what they can realistically expect for earnings, home time and other areas during the first few days and weeks on the job.
  • Engaged learning. No driver wants to sit through a couple days of instructor-led orientation meetings. Where possible, use interactive technology and e-learning tools to shorten orientation and provide a more focused and engaging learning experience.
  • Support network. Apply a data-driven approach to match drivers to their trainers, mentors, dispatchers, and supervisors in your organization. The data could include previous work experience, skill levels, personality types, demographics and more.
  • Driver feedback. Use 7-day orientation and 45-day onboarding surveys to identify the early job expectations, experiences, and satisfaction levels of drivers. Act quickly to resolve any misunderstandings.
  • Rewards and recognition. Use programs that engage drivers and help to instill a sense of purpose, commitment, and loyalty for working for your company.

Every company has a unique set of strengths to attract and retain drivers, but there are also weaknesses that can make adjusting to your workplace, culture, and systems more difficult than it should be.

We stand by ready to help you identify and execute new strategies for improvement this year. Please give us a call at 1.855.867.3533 or send us a message at Let’s beat the odds.

What to read next