Giving professional drivers their choice of loads based on tenure and seniority — a common approach at dedicated and private fleets — is a great system to reward longevity and retention and encourage drivers to stick around long enough to earn the ability to have greater freedom over their routes and schedules.
However, under these bidding systems, while the most seasoned drivers have first dibs at their preferred loads and schedules, earliest tenured drivers generally are left with the least desirable shifts week to week, such as overnight work, weekend schedules, and the toughest routes and lanes. They often are stuck with those shifts for years before earning the seniority to choose better schedules.
In NTI’s work with private and dedicated fleets, that’s a common concern we hear: Seniority-based bid systems contribute to frustration of new hires and churn among early tenured truckers. And since seniority is relative, there’s often no assured timeline for how long drivers have to stay with a company to earn the chance at more preferred loads and schedules.
Here are three ways your fleet can help soothe those frustrations, incentivize weekend shifts and other lesser desired loads, and manage hang-ups caused by seniority-based load bidding programs:
Offer bonus pay for drivers taking the least desirable shifts: By providing flat-rate incentives such as an extra $50-$100 per day for a driver who works a Saturday or an overnight shift, or an hourly pay bump for those schedules, your fleet can not only help early tenured drivers feel like they’re being rewarded for working those loads, but you can also incentivize more senior drivers to take those shifts, too, helping mitigate the issue of earlier tenured drivers constantly working those least desirable options.
Build long-term rewards for drivers who consistently work tougher schedules: As another incentive for drivers to take the lesser desirable loads and routes, build long-term rewards that can address the frustrations associated with those schedules. For example, for drivers who say their Saturday shifts take away time from their family, offer them a reward such as an airline voucher and hotel credits to take their family on vacation if they work 20 Saturdays in a year. Another option could also be to give additional PTO days for accumulating a certain number of weekend shifts. The important point is to engage with and listen to your drivers and find rewards that help offset the issues that frustrate them about their schedules.
Audit first-year driver pay to ensure it aligns with what you’re advertising: Your fleet may promote and advertise a certain annual take-home pay that’s based on what you expect drivers to earn. However, for drivers consistently working tougher lanes and schedules, they may not actually be earning that advertised pay number. If there is a significant amount of churn among drivers with less than a year at your company, your HR and operations teams may not realize pay isn’t meeting expectations established during the recruiting process. Thus, it’s important for your team to analyze what your first-year drivers are actually earning in their paycheck. Take a sample of drivers’ take-home pay in their first weeks and months and annualize to see if it does align with what you’re selling during recruiting. If it doesn’t, make adjustments in your recruiting marketing or in their pay to ensure you’re communicating an accurate and compelling offer.
Bonus tip: Offer transition pay. Read more about how transition pay is a great incentive for new hires in this NTI blog post from last year.