Can A Driver Referral Program Increase Retention Of Your Current Drivers?


Referral programs are a critical strategy to attract drivers to work for your company and motivate current drivers to stay longer with you. However, not all referral programs are equally effective. Our advice based on over twenty-five years of industry experience and the latest research in recruiting and retention offers effective solutions to optimize your strategy.

Referrals are a great tool for your hiring pipeline both in terms of  volumes and quality. Most companies report that a significant amount of their pipeline comes from employee referrals, but some companies use referrals to fill 30% to 50% of their openings! .  Additionally, research from Iowa State University finds that new hires that come from personal referral are 30% more likely to stay longer and be more productive with your organization.

Your current employees benefit from referral programs in several ways too. According to our database, carriers provide referral bonuses that range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Those programs are structured in several different ways to align with their organization targets and culture. If you hit the sweet spot, a referral program can effectively increase your current driver retention and reduce your voluntary turnover.

Referral programs are a great tool, but to make them even more effective it is critical to understand some nuances.

  1. Put more weight in Referrals than Sign-On Bonuses: The higher your sign-on, the more your candidates may wonder why this company needs to offer so much money to give them a try? Or, more importantly, “How many hoops do I have to pass through to get that money?” It is important to calibrate your referral program amount, so it is perceived as fair and attractive, and trustworthy, as you promote the value of your own people above attracting others. Doing so will accomplish both retention and attraction. Find more details on referral bonuses by participating in the National Survey of Driver Wages.
  2. Find your own way: There are more options than the one and done referral bonus. Carriers use different strategies to reward their drivers for their referrals. With over 25 years of experience tracking benefits and pay packages, NTI can help you understand what the prevalence and effectiveness of different incentive strategies in the industry are.
  3. Promote, explain, and facilitate your program. We know it is difficult to put many messages out there for your drivers. However, referral programs really pay off when your drivers are engaged. Try your best to promote your programs, explain how they work, and support your drivers with technology and personal assistance to get the benefits of it. We found companies have great referral programs, but sometimes struggle to engage the drivers to use it. Internal marketing programs in this case, are vital. Incorporate monthly communications to your people about incentives and promote successful referrals in everyone!
  4. Create a net of support for your current and new hires. While it is important that the person that refers supports the new hire, that may cause your current driver to dedicate their energy to coach them and could lead to burnout according to recent research. It is important that you facilitate a net of support, so the referrer does not burn out and the new hire socializes with other drivers. Give the right support to the new person, but do not overburden the referrer. Provide some space between the referrer and the new hire so the new person can socialize in the company. Provide some space for the referrer to be proud to bring new people, but let the new person develop.

Devise a referral program that is attractive for the referrer to use it, for the new hire to be seduced by the opportunity, and to both to stay in the organization and be productive. We hope this advice is useful for your next review of your referral program and look forward to your ongoing success!


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