How Your Trucking Fleet Can Win the Talent Race

Impact of ineffective employee recruiting and retention efforts is far-reaching

At a time when finding qualified truck drivers is more difficult than ever, the people side of the business is even more paramount. Your ability to hire and retain safe and reliable drivers is one of the most important factors needed to operate profitably. 

Before working at Acuity Insurance, I spent more than 25 years in the trucking business, in many different roles, including time as a driver and trucking fleet owner. 

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Here’s a personal anecdote demonstrating the impact of poor employee relations.

“I was working as a dump truck driver during the summer when I was in college and had asked for a day off to attend a good friend’s wedding. The request for time off was approved by my boss. It was the morning of the wedding, and I received a call from the owner asking me where I was. I reminded him my boss gave me the day off as I was standing up at my friend’s wedding. He demanded I come in. When I considered it, then declined, he fired me. 

“The next week, I started working for a local competitor, making several dollars more per hour than I was at the original company. Shortly after, I saw my old truck completely turned over, upside down. I wasn’t happy about this, I liked the people at my previous employer and wanted them to be safe. This taught me an important lesson early in my career about how one of the best things you can do for your business is to treat employees fairly.”


The importance of making your company desirable to employees is even more important today than it was in years past.

Replacing employees is expensive. One report shows it costs an estimated 33 percent of a worker’s annual salary to replace them if they leave. Another report shows the estimated replacement cost of $16,500 per person for an employee earning a median salary of $50,000 a year. Not only is it expensive to replace good employees, but it can also be time-consuming and put more strain on your company’s remaining employees to meet customer needs. 


Competitive pay is just one piece of the employee recruitment and retention puzzle. Other important factors include health care benefits, work/life balance, paid time off, retirement benefits, safety bonuses, and positive company culture. What this mix looks like is different for each company, but there are several things you can do to ensure your company has a reputation for not only being a good employer but also attracting and retaining top-quality employees. 


If you’re wondering if your offerings are fair, put yourself in a driver’s shoes. Would you be satisfied with the job for the pay and benefits you’re offering? Are there ways you could improve your employee value proposition? If a staffing shortage has required your employees to work longer hours, have you recognized them for going above and beyond? Consider these questions when assessing what you can do to attract and retain high-value employees. 


It may be more valuable to invest in the employees you have than to spend money trying to recruit new talent. Employees who are treated well may be more loyal and more likely to tell their friends good things about your business- earning you a positive reputation and even referrals. 

Here are a few ways you can build a solid employee retention program.

  • Make sure employees are aware of their pay and benefits. Today, most pay is direct deposit, so it’s easy for employees to lose sight of what is included. Mailing a pay summary detailing a more comprehensive look at the benefits included in their total compensation (health insurance costs, retirement benefits, and vacation time) can elevate transparency.
  • Observe birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. Congratulating your driver on their important day and offering them the opportunity to be home for these special occasions may take fleet managers a little more effort but the gesture can show them and their family you care about their work and life balance. 
  • Conduct exit interviews with departing workers. I have a saying I use, “the best driver recruiting programs understand the driver retention issue.” Having a conversation with departing employees to honestly share why they’re leaving can shed light on the real reason(s). Those learnings can uncover potential opportunities to improve the employee experience, increase retention, and retain the driver in question. 
  • Think about ways to engage their families. Being away from family can put strain on not only a driver, but also their family. Doing small things to engage a driver’s family, like hosting a family fun day can help to win over your drivers and their loved ones. 


Labor is often the top expenditure for a trucking business, even outpacing equipment costs in many cases. Therefore, it can be tempting to try to save on things like employee pay or benefits. If you’re looking to cut costs from this area, consider your mindset around recruiting and retention. It may be more beneficial to consider it not only a business expense, but also an investment in the future of your business. Not only can treating employees well encourage them to stay longer, but it also can help to build a good reputation for your trucking business and make your company a preferred employer for current and prospective employees living in the area. 

Enhancing your company’s reputation as a desirable place for truck drivers to work can feel complicated and time-consuming. However, taking an honest look at what drivers want from their employer and matching that to your retention and recruitment efforts can position your business as a go-to destination for the reliable professionals you need to thrive. 


Cliff Johnson is the trucking business segment consultant at Acuity Insurance.

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