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Because I am happy... How can fleet owners keep their drivers happy?

Published on 17 October 2021 - 6 reading minute(s)

Driving trucks is a tough job that doesn't attract enough young people to replace the thousands of drivers who retire every year. We spoke to three fleet owners in Poland and Romania, where this crisis is particulary acute, about how they attract and keep their drivers.

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Whether it’s because of harsh working conditions, low pay, security concerns or just the image it projects, the trucker’s job has suffered over the past few years... Yet our economy is still largely dependent on it. As pretty much all merchandise is transported by road at some point. So it’s vital to find ways to make driving trucks attractive again!

If transport companies are to succeed in recruiting young drivers, they must offer tangible guarantees and perks, in an effort to boost the tarnished image of a profession.

Getting drivers aboard

Hiring new drivers isn’t always easy. As it turns out, it’s often a matter of putting forward very concrete elements. “During the initial interview, we talk about working hours, bonuses for eco-driving, things like that”, says Władysław Tworkowski, the manager of Montana, an international transport company based in Przasnysz, Poland. “Getting paid on time, having weekends off and working with a well-maintained fleet are things that new hires look at closely”.

Because of the industry’s poor image, transport companies must work twice as hard on their reputation. “Drivers collect opinions on the road, by word of mouth. You can advertise in trade media or magazines, but in reality, it’s drivers that attract other drivers,” explains Michał Jamka, the boss of Glob Truck in Ostrołęka, also in Poland. “If a driver is told that the work is paid fairly and well organised so that he gets to spend more time at home, that’s what really matters.”

Arguments to keep them happy

The same applies to keeping current drivers: it’s a matter of offering the best possible working conditions and projecting the best possible image. “Currently, both experienced and younger colleagues think highly of the working conditions at our company,” proudly explains Dan Adrian Bejușcă, the manager of Volanul de Aur, a Romanian refrigerated transport company. “Our work schedule is flexible, drivers can take days off whenever they need, and we offer bonuses for working Saturdays and keeping trucks neat.”

He mentions that keeping good relationships and mutual respect are also an important part of making drivers stay in the long run. Władysław from the Montana company in Poland adds well-kept trucks matter as well: “Apart from work schedules, new drivers mainly ask about the condition of the trucks they will be driving, that’s the most important thing to them.”

Such arguments are particularly important to convince young drivers to work for the company in a context where many of them are lured away by the higher wages of Western European companies. “Young drivers take what Polish carriers can offer, but they’re always looking for better conditions, which is understandable,” says Michał Jamka from Glob Truck. “We try to react to this situation as best we can, but it seems there is no remedy at the moment.”

“The reliability of the company, as well as the lack of worry guaranteed by a good job, the self esteem and good-condition trucks make drivers stay for the long term” notices Dan Adrian Bejușcă.

Dealing with the generation gap

On top of that, fleet owners need to pay attention to another element that can disrupt the harmony within their teams: the rift between young drivers and experienced ones. The arrival of technological tools such as cruise control, distance radars and telematics have transformed trucking, and that can create a generational gap. “It’s easier to get along with younger drivers, they are more responsive to suggestions about eco-driving for example, that results in savings for the company,” says Władysław. “Older drivers always think they know better. Thanks to telematics, we can look at what the drivers did wrong, when they braked too hard, etc. Young drivers are very open to that, whereas older ones take offence. They say their experience is enough, that they don’t need these technological tools.”

That being said, Dan Adrian Bejușcă in Romania says that everyone has their flaws and qualities regardless of age, and that in his experience, “there is a high level of interest from both experienced and newer drivers who want to improve their skills.” One thing is for sure: through thick and thin, the world of trucking has always evolved, and that’s not stopping anytime soon.


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Keep them incentivised

Truckers are constantly subject to new rules and practices. Make sure they have strong reasons to comply, for example by granting bonuses for eco-driving or the good upkeep of their vehicle.

Keep the peace

Conflict can sometimes arise between drivers and their management. All the fleet owners we spoke to mention respect and listening as key elements to avoid escalation: always make sure they feel acknowledged and speak openly so that misunderstandings don’t fester.

Keep them safe

The Covid-19 pandemic puts truckers particularly at risk of exposure. Apply all necessary measures to keep your drivers safe from harm, and make use of all the technological tools that help them drive as safely as possible.

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