- Monthly annualized driver turnover was 39.8% for fleets surveyed in June, according to recent report from Stay Metrics, now owned by Tenstreet. That's an improvement from the annualized monthly rate of 78.2% in January 2020, the highest going back two years.
- The June number is also lower from the annualized rate of 50.3% in March. But turnover instability is returning as the economy heats up, Stay Metrics reported.
- The companies reported that, in early 2020, average days stayed in the first year of employment jumped significantly "across carriers in our dataset, to over 230 days, likely due to the pandemic’s initial effects causing driver uncertainty." But in the following months, the numbers fell. For example, drivers hired in June 2020 stayed an average of 212 days in their first year.
Initially, the COVID-19 pandemic helped calm turnover, as the uncertainty caused by shutdowns and layoffs kept drivers in place and focused on the road. Stay Metrics noted that in March 2020, retention in the first seven days of a new employees' tenure was 99.6%.
But as the pandemic waned and grew anew in 2021, seven-day retention became more unpredictable. In June, it was 96.1%, meaning that carriers lost about one out of every new 20 drivers in the first seven days.
Stay Metrics reported that its turnover measurements since June 2020 had been steadily declining through December, but have been bouncing up and down since the beginning of 2021, according to Brad Fulton, director of research and analytics for Stay Metrics. The question is why there has been recent instability.
"It's likely due to the pandemic still," said Fulton. "It's hard to say where that is going to go."
Carriers tell Fulton that business is good, but recruitment is hard. A lot of clients are looking at pay as the first tool of retention and recruitment. But transparency may be a higher priority in the minds of drivers, Fulton said.
Drivers want to know the details of their pay and their time off to help clear up confusion about policies. They want personal time at home. Carriers appear to be delivering some satisfaction to drivers, Fulton said, adding he suspects turnover will not spike for the remainder of 2021. Carriers take retention seriously, so that could stabilize numbers, Fulton said.
A number of carriers have said since the beginning of the year that they will enhance efforts to recruit and retain drivers. in May, Werner said the driver shortage was all too real and agreed with other estimates that it was worse than it has been in decades.
Werner's CEO said home time was one aspect of recruitment and retention.
"Our retention efforts are paying off, and we are holding the line on turnover," said Werner CEO Derek Leathers. "In addition to attractive driver compensation, Werner strives to be the truckload employer of choice, by providing a modern truck and trailer fleet with the latest safety equipment and technology, a wide variety of driving positions including daily and weekly home-time opportunities, and an industry-leading driver training program."