FEBRUARY 5, 2019 – As we reported late last year, the turnover rate for large trucking companies is almost 100 percent right now. That means that nearly every single driver hired by these motor carriers in 2018 ended up leaving. At an average cost of $12,000 per hire, it’s not just the time involved in finding drivers that takes a toll on companies – it’s the potentially large financial burden, as well.
There has been a lot of talk recently about how trucking companies can attract the best talent – and how perks such as sign-on bonuses, employee appreciation events and flexible schedules can help improve retention. Something that’s gotten less attention, however, is the important role of the pre-employment background screen in this process.
How Much do You Know About Your New Hires?
As part of the pre-employment process, there are certain steps you have to take to comply with DOT regulations: running a drug screen and verifying the driver’s prior employment, for example. This is all valuable information, of course, and will help ensure you’re hiring an experienced driver that doesn’t have a history of drug and alcohol use.
But there are some very important details this process leaves out:
- Did they provide you with a complete list of prior employers (or did they leave off a carrier or two)?
- Did they hold a CDL (or have a history of violations) in another state?
- Is there a history of criminal activity?
The only way to uncover this information, and ensure you’re making the right hiring decision, is to include the FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), as well as a criminal background check, as part of your standard, pre-hire process.
Why it Matters
There are, of course, some obvious reasons why this information would be important for you to know during the pre-hire process. After all, you wouldn’t want to put someone with a long history of drug use or theft into the driver’s seat – it would be far too risky for your company, your other employees and the general public.
But what this process also provides, is a deeper understanding of a person’s overall character and reliability. If someone applies for a job at your company that has been convicted of multiple violent crimes, has been involved in a string of avoidable accidents, or has lost jobs due to drug and alcohol abuse, the chances of them repeating those behaviors while employed at your company will increase substantially. Even if you hire them, and they do decide to stay on as a driver, is that a risk your company can afford to take? There is also a strong connection between retention and employee morale – and morale drops when your employees feel unsafe or uncomfortable in the presence of another co-worker. It truly does take only one bad egg to negatively impact your entire workforce (not to mention your retention rate).
It takes a little more time upfront, but all of the data points to the same set of facts: the investment you make in the pre-employment process will pay off through higher CSA scores, improved morale and lower turnover.
These can be difficult decisions to make during this driver shortage, when keeping a fully-staffed fleet can seem like a difficult task as it is – even when you’re not getting too choosy about who you hire. But by investing a little more time in the process upfront, you’ll be working towards building a healthier, happier and more reliable workforce – with drivers who will stick with you for the long haul.
About the Author
Lindsey Bergeron is Editor of the Foley blog. Serving as transportation guru, she keeps an eye on the industry and its day-to-day evolution and developments, specifically writing about the various lifestyle, business and regulatory topics that are most relevant to motor carriers. Holding a degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Connecticut, she ran a successful content marketing firm before joining Foley at its Hartford hub. Her current expertise in transportation writing is built upon an extensive background in editing, feature writing and content development.