Blog post:

Is driver attrition killing your business?

Pete Adney | March 15, 2016

Tags: Commercial operator | Duty allocations | Driver training | Traffic Office |

The key to providing high quality passenger transportation – and a viable alternative to the car – is availability of dedicated, well-trained bus drivers who can deliver safe, reliable bus services.

Driver turnover affects a bus operator’s ability to achieve this vital objective – so isn’t it alarming to learn that in the UK almost half of new drivers leave within their first 12 weeks of employment ?1

Clearly this reduces the level of service quality operators can provide – but it also has a huge financial impact, because it costs around £3,500 to recruit and train each new driver.2

There’s also an impact on employee morale, as drivers watch their peers come and go through a seemingly endless revolving door. Lower morale reduces productivity and creates a cyclical pattern where unhappy drivers are more likely to leave the business. It’s a vicious circle.

And of course, departing drivers creates a detrimental skills gap shortage, which leads to one of the most damaging costs of all: the impact on the quality of service that passengers receive. This makes it more difficult to attract new passengers, or retain existing ones.

This means profits decrease while costs associated with driver training and turnover increase – a fatal combination for any bus operator.

This situation simply can’t continue. So is there a solution?

I believe bus operators must implement strategies that address the causes of this threat to their businesses – and start now.

Yet there are a number of reasons drivers leave, and no single “golden ticket” solution. And what might seem the most obvious solution – increasing drivers’ wages – may not actually be the most effective.

I believe that driver retention is less related to how well they are paid than how they are treated. In order to ensure drivers are satisfied with their jobs, and loyal to your organisation, it’s time to focus on ways to make drivers’ lives more efficient, safe, stress-free – and ultimately happier.

Obviously as a technology consultant I believe that suppliers such as Trapeze can have a significant impact here, through solutions for driver training, self-service and better traffic office administration.

However, there are other changes we can make to improve driver retention. I believe we should promote a culture shift toward driver monitoring, and dealing with underperforming drivers by focusing on corrective action that will improve the issues drivers they are having.

Such processes must of course be transparent and auditable, so that there is no perception of bias or unfairness, thereby making it easier to build the trust necessary to establish long-term driver loyalty to your business.

And alongside corrective action, we must also reward drivers for their successes and achievements. Managers may sometimes feel that administration workload can make it difficult to find time to give drivers the recognition they deserve, but it is critical that our great drivers don’t feel taken for granted.

Reference

Induction process puts First UK Bus on route to greater efficiency", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 17, Iss 4 pp. 6 – 9 - http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/09670730910963235

Are you worried about drivers leaving your business? Improve driver retention by booking Pete Adney as a consultant on this subject. Get in touch here.

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About Pete Adney

Pete Adney has worked in the bus industry for over 30 years: as a driver, inspector, assistant manager, manager, and business analyst. In his present role for Trapeze he forms the crucial connection between what the bus sector needs and technology can provide: on a daily basis that involves everything from system specification to implementation. He prides himself on strong customer relationships and feels fortunate to have been part of the bus industry for so long.

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