The importance of recognition for drivers (and, really, for all of us)


Starting in the early 1990s, Gallup and other research firms began reporting a new top reason why people leave their jobs. It wasn’t for the pay but for the lack of recognition.

During this time I was a young manager in my early 30s. While attending a conference one day I heard a retired Army Colonel explain why people do what they do. He asked us to choose an explanation:  A) Because they are supposed to; or B) Because of how it makes them feel.

“A” seemed like the most logical answer. The Colonel asked those in the room to stand who managed more than 30 people and chose the first option.

Apparently, 30 percent of the managers in the room thought the same way I did.

“Those of you standing are probably the least effective managers in the building. You can sit down now,” he said. The fact is people don’t just do things just because they are supposed to, he explained. They act out of a desire to feel appreciated, respected, proud, and important.

Before long, even the best drivers will start to think “I am not appreciated here.”

It’s more than pay

Many business owners and managers in the trucking industry may believe that the best retention strategy is to have the highest pay package in their sector.

While pay is certainly a factor in driver turnover it is not as strong as you might think.

The Stay Metrics research and analytics platform has more than 24,000 active drivers and 80 motor carrier clients. Our data show virtually no relationship between driver pay dissatisfaction and driver turnover within the first 90 days of employment. We also find that drivers with high pay satisfaction churn at the rate of 56 percent during the first three months. Only 44 percent of drivers with a low pay satisfaction quit during the same period.

After one year, pay dissatisfaction is a more significant factor in turnover but is typically not the main factor, and our research shows that higher pay satisfaction does not equate with higher retention.

Recognition – finding the time

We all need to make a living, but what do we really want from our job? If the answer is recognition, it doesn’t come easy in a fast-paced business environment where the stage is set to maximize financial performance.

Recognizing drivers can be especially difficult with the spectrum of regulations, risky and unprofitable behaviors that have to be managed within a remote workforce. Before long, even the best drivers will start to think “I am not appreciated here.”

A system for rewards

Whenever we come into contact with a carrier whose leadership team is fixated on recognizing and rewarding drivers, we know their retention is significantly better than their peers.

The formula is so predictable that sometimes I find myself playing a mental carnival game. Instead of guessing someone’s weight and age, I guess their retention rate by talking to the CEO for 10 minutes about drivers. My guess is usually within five percentage points of accuracy.

Even with the right management philosophy, carriers still need the tools to reward and recognize drivers for contributing to the value of a company and the industry. This is why we created our privately branded Driver Rewards platform.

Custom for your needs

Our platform allows carriers to customize the rewards to the “metrics that matter” to their business and for many other categories that can include work anniversaries, birthdays and safety quizzes.

Even with the right management philosophy, carriers still need the tools to reward and recognize drivers

Drivers are automatically notified when points are added for recognition. This prompts immediate engagement as drivers go online to view company news and announcements while tracking their progress towards the items on their wish lists.

Without a rewards system in place, driver recognition becomes totally dependent on fleet managers. This strategy is not always practical and can be difficult to maintain any level of consistency.

For more information on how our rewards platform drives engagement and loyalty, visit a previous blog on the topic at, give us a call at 1.855.867.3533 or send us a message through

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