When Drivers Say They Leave for Pay, But Don’t Actually Earn More

A Frustrating Problem Caused by Frustrated Drivers

By Zack Smith

“Better Pay”

We’ve all seen drivers leave an apparently great job for “better pay”, but we quickly learn the new gig doesn’t actually end up paying more. For businesses losing drivers this way, there might not be anything more frustrating.

This is a problem worth solving for both the company and the driver. For the driver, expecting more pay and not finding it can cause major problems. For the companies losing drivers, hiring, training, and onboarding a replacement is horrifically expensive, and oftentimes the new driver leaves the same way.

Let’s look at what causes this type of turnover, and how you can take action to prevent it.

Side note: Even if driver's are only leaving for slightly better pay (instead of less), this article still applies.

Something Made the Driver Look

The first key to understanding why a driver leaves for (supposedly) better pay is understanding that a job search starts before any knowledge of alternate payment rates. There are a lot of reasons drivers might start searching for jobs, but for the specific case we’re looking at – drivers who say they’re leaving for better pay, but don’t actually get it – we can take a few educated guesses.

A Clear Message Is Critical

The second key to understanding our problem is that the driver doesn’t want it to happen either, so, clearly, the driver didn’t understand something. In case you haven’t noticed, driver pay is shockingly complicated. Most of us go to work and we always know what our paycheck will be, but for many drivers their paycheck can seem like rocket science. Mileage pay can be based on a variety of measurements for mileage (ELD, HHG, Hub, or even variable rates), then other factors get added into net profit for the driver – operating costs, expenses, cost of benefits, and depending on the company, fixed rate pay, hourly pay, per diem, or some other system – then, after all of that, load and route availability dramatically impact income for the driver each week.

When a driver falsely believes a new job will pay better, it is almost always because the driver doesn’t properly understand his paycheck. With this in mind, we can create a plan to help drivers better understand their paycheck and weekly finances.

An Action Plan

Let’s take at a 3-piece action plan to reduce payment based turnover.

Step 1 | Review Each Driver’s First Paycheck with Him

This simple step will go further than almost anything else you could do. Within 2 business days of issuance, review each line item on each driver’s first pay stub with him and explain how it is calculated to ensure there are no misunderstandings. If there seems to be some confusion, do this again for the second paycheck to make sure it sticks. Additionally, if a new driver’s pay changes dramatically across the first two paychecks, be sure to review the cause of the difference with him.

Step 2 | Review Benefits Multiple Times & Ensure On-Time Selection

Benefits take up a surprising chunk of each paycheck, so it’s important that a driver understands what he’s paying for and why. Furthermore, it’s important to make sure a driver understands his benefits options and registers for insurance (if desired) within his benefits window. Missed or misunderstood benefits are a part of pay, and it’s critical that you address them as much as the driver’s paycheck itself.

Step 3 | Create and Provide Review Sheets During Steps 1 & 2

What makes sense in the office might not make sense at home. Be sure to provide a review sheet that clearly explains everything you discuss in Steps 1 & 2. This is also critical to appeasing the silent voice – the driver’s spouse. The review sheet should be clear enough that the driver can use it to explain his benefits and paycheck to his spouse at home.

Bonus Points | Go Beyond

Clear mutual expectations and follow-through by management and the driver is critical to a driver’s success at a business. The Pivotal Retention system takes this same style of plan – connecting a driver to resources and team members – and applies it consistently across each driver’s first year. Even if you aren’t using Pivotal Retention, be sure to look at each step in a new driver’s experience and ask yourself how to make it better.

Implementing this plan requires systems to make it simple and consistent, but it will be well worth it. As you expand systems like this one across your first-year driver experience, you’ll see a dramatic reduction in all kinds of turnover.

Creating a plan like this takes a lot of work and maintaining it long-term takes even more, but it is well worth the effort. A fleet of 500 drivers with 70% turnover reduced to 40% (a realistic and achievable goal without financial incentives) would save roughly $1.5M annually in hiring costs alone. If you want to skip most of the effort and keep all of the reward, Pivotal Retention’s software can implement a company-specific core retention program like this, driver development plans, and flight-risk response fleet-wide in a much shorter period of time. To chat about whether or not Pivotal Retention is the right fit for your team, schedule a 15 minute meeting with me at this link.

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