Companies can recruit and retain drivers by investing in their health care, being honest, and...

Companies can recruit and retain drivers by investing in their health care, being honest, and adding bonuses. 

Photo: Work Truck

The holiday season is not always merry and bright. It’s hectic, stressful, and grueling — especially for drivers in the transportation industry.

Add to the fact that the industry’s monthly average quit levels for 2022 were 14,400 per month. And the average quit rate per month increased by over 2% between August 2021 to August 2022.

With the holiday season in full swing, there are several things vocational fleet managers and transportation companies can do to help retain and recruit drivers for the busy season.

Always in high demand, drivers have options when picking a company or deciding to stay with their current employer. If a company takes care of its drivers and consistently provides good miles, drivers are more likely to stay with the company, according to the Fall 2022 Driver Survey by Conversion and PDA.

Work Truck spoke with Chris Cigarran, chief commercial officer at Imagine360. Cigarran works closely with trucking companies on health management and benefits strategy and delivery and provides insight into how companies can recruit and maintain their drivers during the holiday season.

First Impressions Can Make or Break

First impressions matter.

According to the Fall 2022 Driver Survey, 12% of surveyors resigned from their carrier after one issue. And 55.6% said they left after multiple issues.

If a good impression is made and trust is established, a driver is less likely to resign after one issue. Trust can also be set by owners and managers owning up to their mistakes. The surveyors said that they like when managers take responsibility for any errors.

Communication is also essential to establish during first impressions. In the survey, almost 50% of the drivers said their miles have decreased or fluctuated. Proactive communication on market fluctuations helps build trust and understanding between drivers and the company.

This can also be said when conveying home time policies. In the survey, drivers stated they had been lied to before when it came to those policies in the recruitment process. It’s essential to be upfront and honest so drivers can be assigned the jobs that best fit their needs and desires.

Cigarran said another way companies can make an excellent first impression is by “offering higher-quality, affordable benefits, regardless of where drivers are located; potentially a big step in attracting new talent and retaining the existing workforce. These types of benefits show the prospective talent that a company values and prioritizes the health and wellbeing of its drivers.”

Health Challenges in the Trucking Industry

Caring about the drivers’ health can go a long way. The trucking industry has several health considerations that impact its drivers. According to Cigarran:

  • Drivers have higher rates of orthopedic injuries, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Drivers are prone to sleep issues.
  • The vast majority of drivers are men, who typically delay or avoid care.
  • When drivers seek care, it’s often on the road and out-of-network.

Because of these challenges, having comprehensive health benefits available to drivers can make a big difference in recruiting and retaining drivers.

Cigarran said, “With a full-service, open-access health plan, trucking companies can give employees an enhanced member experience characterized by lower costs and one that addresses key considerations for trucking industry employees.”

Because of the specific health considerations, drivers are likely to face while constantly on the road, they can greatly benefit from the following services:

  • Care navigation services that help find quality providers, including access to telehealth services, no matter the location.
  • Broad access to physicians and medical facilities for convenient care on the road. By removing the “in-network” or “out-of-network” limitations, drivers can find care where and when they need it.
  • A plan customized for their health needs with wellness resources built-in to support chronic conditions and common driver injuries.

Using Alternative Health Insurance Solutions to Save Costs

With so many challenges in the industry out of our hands, healthcare is one area trucking company owners have control over. Fleet owners have come to accept annual cost increases from traditional preferred provider organizations (PPO) as a part of doing business, but there are health plan solutions that can significantly reduce healthcare costs instead.

According to Cigarran, “A full-service health plan solution, with the savings of reference-based pricing (RBP) built-in, provides savings that could never be achieved with a PPO. With RBP, provider reimbursement is determined using the actual cost or Medicare amount of the medical service as the benchmark, plus a fair profit margin. This is a bottom-up approach based on real data.

“Traditional PPO plans, on the other hand, use a top-down approach to negotiate discounts off an arbitrary and inflated facility chargemaster price. This results in widely variable prices for the same health service.

“For example, the average reimbursement for a knee or hip replacement — orthopedic services commonly needed by drivers — can exceed $30,000 — depending on geographic location -under a traditional PPO health plan. With an RBP model, under which reimbursement is based on the actual cost of treatment, that reimbursement charge drops to $16,000, on average.”

When a trucking company trusts its employees and provides affordable and convenient healthcare, it’s a recipe for retention success.

Additionally, when more truck drivers and other employees use their benefits and seek preventive care, it saves the company and employees money in the long run.

Reinvest Health Savings into Drivers

Cash is king. And adding competitive benefits is a surefire way to recruit drivers.

In the “Fall Driver Survey,” 55% of drivers said they are likelier to choose a carrier with a sign-on bonus.

By lowering healthcare costs, trucking companies can reinvest their savings into salaries and other bonuses.

Cigarran said he’s also seen companies add more perks to their benefits packages.

“Drivers looking at switching companies often make decisions based on salaries and benefits. Reinvesting into these offers a strategic competitive advantage when recruiting and retaining talent.

“Imagine360 has over 20 trucking clients whom we’ve helped save millions of dollars. On average, trucking companies across the U.S. are saving 15% to 30% on their healthcare costs with our full-service solution,” he added.

For companies looking to save money and retain drivers, Cigarran’s final advice is “the combination of cost savings and more freedom to manage your health plan gives fleet managers flexibility and options to exhibit a commitment to their employees.

“Keeping health plan premiums and out-of-pocket costs manageable while offering a full-service solution with exceptional member support could be a differentiator against competing companies. During a driver shortage, drivers have the luxury of being selective regarding their employer. Fleet managers would be wise to show that they truly value the health and wellbeing of their drivers.”

About the author
Hillary Weiss

Hillary Weiss

Senior Editor

Hillary Weiss is a former senior editor at Bobit. She has a decade of digital publishing experience and a passion for all things related to fleets.

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