Driver Orientation Can Make Or Break Your Turnover

CEO and founder of HNI, Mike Natalizio, has developed and improved risk management solutions for transportation companies and organizations since 1985. Natalizio is the founder of The Risk Clarity Formula™, a tool used by HNI to help their customers identify risk susceptibility, create and help implement the solutions to these risks in order for executives to grow their business, expand their wealth, and reach their goals for the future. 



DON JERRELL
Associate VP

Orientation is one of the first experiences a driver has with your company.  Are you making the most of this opportunity to get drivers on board and excited about their job?

While they may have drawn an impression from your online brand (ZMOT) and your recruiting process, orientation is the first time they’re interacting with you as an employee of your company.  The importance of this on driver retention cannot be overstated.

Internal Perception of Orientation is Everything

Whatever your attitude is about orientation, it will rub off on the drivers. 

What is the purpose of your orientation?  Is it just to get the paperwork done, or do you recognize that this is your opportunity to share your culture with your new hire?  Set clear goals for orientation and define what it is that you want the drivers to walk away with.

Get buy-in from other departments so drivers aren’t left with the feeling that it is a “necessary evil” or that they’re “in the way” during the process.

Who Should Be Involved with Driver Orientation?

Think carefully about who should be involved in your orientation process and the message it send to drivers.  When does operations get involved with orientation and what do they do?  Does ownership participate?

Although there may be many departments involved in driver orientation (HR, Operations, Safety, etc.) there does need to be someone who owns the entire process and manages it from start to finish to ensure the best experience for drivers. 

Be Consistent With Recruiting Messages

If your recruiters are saying one thing and new hires are seeing another when they walk in the door, your driver turnover is not going to be pretty.  Is what you present in orientation in direct correlation to what recruiting has told your new drivers?  Do you have meeting or a communication process between departments to make sure everyone is on the same page?

Beyond The Initial Orientation

Put processes in place for follow up with drivers post orientation.  Consider a mentorship program to help drivers get to know others at the company and to be a resource for any questions they may have.  Meet with the driver after their first trip, and have regular follow-up meetings to ensure new hire is comfortable and doing well.

Consider developing a special dispatch system for new hires instead of including them as part of the regular fleet.  This can be helpful in helping new drivers “ramp up” as they learn your company and procedures.

Also, talk to drivers that stick with the company (or even those that leave on their way out the door) and interview them about their orientation experience.  If you get them to open up, they can provide great insights into what worked for them and what didn’t.

Developing Driver Orientation Should Be An Ongoing Process

These are just the first steps for making orientation a positive experience andimproving driver retention.  There are many other strategies and techniques that may work well, depending on your company and your culture.  Always keep looking for ways to improve your orientation!