Driver Retention

It’s no secret that the retention of effective employees is crucial to any organization’s success.  Studies increasingly demonstrate strong correlations across business sectors between staff turnover and things like health, profitability and corporate bankruptcy.  Our national trucking and transport industry is no exception to this issue, and driver turnover is one of the most pressing and problematic issues for Canadian carriers, as its wasteful expense poses a potential recipe for operational disaster.  

Today, the tangible effects of a ‘revolving door hire system’ on bottom line profitability are more clearly illustrated than ever.  In fact, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), employee replacement costs are estimated between 50 and 60 percent of an annual salary if an employee is replaced just once during a fiscal year—and subsequent replacements aggravate that cost!  Not surprisingly, savvy employers are implementing strategies to keep good workers and offset the myriad of lost productivity and clientele issues associated with high turnover.

Employee retention practices promote organizational productivity.  At its core, the process of recruiting, hiring and training new employees takes time and money, and unfilled positions assign significant corporate shrink.  Unchecked, these factors can collectively form a dangerous ‘double-edged sword’ for employers, who must strategize to combat poor staff retention in order to manage risk and secure profitability.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has released conclusive results of various long-term studies focusing on the real cost of absenteeism due to high work-life conflict levels.  The price tag of absenteeism in Canadian private sector corporations is reportedly $5.5 billion per year, and when the indirect costs of lost productivity are added, that figure exceeds $10 billion annually!  Health care expenditures are almost 50% higher for employees reporting high stress levels at work, and over 20% of employees experience at least one stress-related illness per year.  Statistics Canada cites that 83% of Canadian workers identify stress as their biggest health concern, and the CMHA adds that work-related stress is responsible for 40% of corporate turnover costs, 55% of employee assistance programming costs, 30% of short-term disability costs, 40% of long-term disability costs, 60% of workplace accident injuries and costs, and 15% of drug plan costs.  Further, both agencies document an annual figure in excess of 70 billion missed work days due to stress!   

Institutions like the CMHA and the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA) explain how simple-to-moderate workplace interventions can help reduce these jarring figures by at least 25%, and studies now prove that comprehensive corporate wellness and employee retention programs return an average of $3 for every dollar invested in them.  Advocacy for increased driver retention is increasingly focusing on a multitude of effective strategies for long-term staff engagement that begin during recruitment and serve throughout the duration of employee/employer liaison.  Today, the most progressive and profitable carriers are able to identify and remedy staffing and turnover issues through effective recruiting, risk assessment and human resource Best Practice consultation.  Those who strive to provide healthy environments for their front-line labour force—most specifically their drivers—are winning in the business world of Canadian transport.  The delivery of conscientious service plans, from the generation of accurate job postings, to meticulous pre-hire communications, to post-accident drug testing, to ongoing consultation and constant driver support is proving remarkably lucrative.  

Obviously, employers should implement retention strategies to attract and keep quality employees.  Strong candidates are inclined to join and stay at companies that are transparent and progressive.  Employers who fulfill terms clearly outlined in pre-hire interviews and employment offers, who offer ongoing, comprehensive health and safety assistance to their drivers, build solid foundations for success.  Companies that reflect honest, realistic views of corporate environments, advancement opportunities and job expectations, positively influence engagement and retention.  Through communication, interaction and support, using simple tools such as employee surveys, exit interviews and focus group feedback, transportation companies instill retention and ultimately reduce operating costs.  It’s relatively easy to reap the rewards of retention specialization programs.  Where competitive pay, benefits, employee recognition and employee assistance protocol serve as standardized parts of a larger corporate attempt to foster employee satisfaction and professional growth, relationships between management and workers develop live action plans that prove invaluable.  When Canadian carriers boost company morale and quality of work life for their drivers, they also boost their ‘bottom line’!

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