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Stay Metrics report says recruiters, dispatchers are pivotal in preventing turnover



You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

That old chestnut could have served as the title to Stay Metrics’ latest white paper. Instead, the analytics firm, which specializes in driver retention, engagement and training, went with a couple of cover-page questions: “Is Early Turnover Damaging the Business? How and What Can We do to Stop it?”

The report, released July 13, is based on a statistical premise that would come as a surprise to no one in trucking: the industry has a turnover problem. It reached a “historic high” of 95 percent in the third quarter of 2017, the report says in its opening statement.

It’s also isn’t exactly a revelation that most of that turnover – 72.6 percent – occurs within the first year, with almost half of those in and out the door in three months or less.

“Considering the costs of recruitment and retention,” the report states, “one may wonder, what do we know about the leavers and what can we do to stop them from leaving?”

A research team led by Stay Metrics Chief Science Officer Timothy Judge set out to determine whether early-stage job leavers share any common characteristics, and if they do can that be used to prevent some of the turnover.

The team combined data from previous research with results obtained from Stay Metrics’ orientation surveys, which have been given to 62,000 drivers at seven days and 45 days into their employment; and its in-depth Annual Driver Survey, as well as driver turnover data provided by its 100-plus clients.

Some interesting patterns emerged from the data, said Stay Metrics Chief Executive Officer Tim Hindes.

“Every carrier’s different in terms of what the issues are, but there are some common issues,” Hindes said. “and what the hope is, is that the carriers glean through this and that they understand things like recruiter satisfaction and what that has to do with retention.”

One finding that may at first seem to fly in the face of logic is that drivers who quit in three months or less, called “early leavers” in the report, are actually more likely to recommend that company to another driver than those who depart later.

Among early leavers, 52 percent reported a positive attitude toward the company.

This can be attributed what is known as the honeymoon period, Hindes said. When people start a new job, they approach everything with a positive attitude. Even if they decided to leave, it’s with more of a “no hard feelings” attitude, Hindes said. “It’s so early they’re willing to give the benefit of the doubt, a bit, to the company that some of it might be on them.”

The Stay Metrics team also looked at which drivers tend to be early leavers. Specifically, they looked at whether age could be a predicter. Hindes said that even before this project began, he and Judge had talked about the supposed millennial problem, the popular dogma being that today’s young adults don’t have a strong enough work ethic or sense of loyalty.

“The reality is there really isn’t much difference,” Hindes said. They broke early leavers into five-year age groups. Millennials, baby boomers and every group in between were within just a few percentage points of one another in their likeliness to leave within the first year.

They also looked at whether industry experience made a difference. The study showed that veteran drivers – with “veteran” defined as a driver with more than one year’s worth of experience – were slightly more likely to be early leavers than rookies.

“The experienced driver can smell the disconnect a lot quicker,” Hindes said. If they’ve been burned before, they’re apt to come in with an eye out for red flags. If a brand-new driver senses a problem, they can’t tell off the bat if it’s a problem with the company or the whole industry. They might even wonder if they’re the one with the problem.

“The more experienced driver will be quicker to say, ‘yup, I’m cutting bait, I’m leaving,’” Hindes said.

The study concluded that driver dissatisfaction can start practically out of the gate, and that a driver’s attitude toward their recruiter and their dispatcher by their 45th day of employment are a strong signal of whether that driver will be an early leaver.

The recruiter’s role in shaping a driver’s opinion of a new company is especially crucial, Hindes said.

According to the study, drivers who expressed high satisfaction with their recruiter have a 22 percent lower turnover rate in the first three months compared to those with low satisfaction.

The importance of dispatcher satisfaction is nearly as pronounced. There was nearly a 16 percent lower turnover rate in the first three months among drivers who expressed high dispatcher satisfaction.

The reasons for the influence of dispatcher and recruiter satisfaction on drivers’ attitudes are different, Hindes explained.

Once a driver is on the road, the dispatcher is their most frequent connection to the company, and they remain an important influence throughout the driver’s employment. Data shows employees are much more likely to stay at companies where they have friends. While the dispatcher doesn’t have to be the driver’s best buddy, it makes a world of difference if they are at least work-friends.

“One of things Stay Metrics does with its clients is gauge driver satisfaction levels with dispatchers so carriers can work with dispatchers who need to up their game,” Hindes said. “What we suggest on the dispatch side is using a psychometric tool, that you can actually pair a driver with the right dispatcher.”

While the relationship with the dispatcher may be key to a driver’s long-term satisfaction, it’s the recruiter who makes that all-important first impression.  At first, that person is the face of the company to that driver, and they set the tone for everything that follows, starting with orientation.

“A lot of carriers have underestimated the value of the first impression,” Hindes said. “A lot of carriers need to stop and ask, when was the last time they looked at their orientation process. Most of them are cookie-cutter, they’re orientating their drivers the same way they were 12, 15 years ago.

“I tell carriers the most critical call a driver is going to make is the first call at break, when they’re out in the parking lot, they pick up the phone and they’re calling home. And they’re answering the most obvious question: ‘How do you like it? Did you choose the right company?’ At that point they only got experience with the recruiter, and about three hours with other people.”

Orientation, Hindes said, is where the first impression with the recruiter is tested. One of the most important things that’s going to factor into that impression is whether the driver believes the recruiter has been honest. Are the things they’re hearing at orientation matching up with what they were told when they signed on?

Something happened to driver recruiting, Hindes said, and he thinks it goes all the way back to when the CDL laws came into being in the mid-’80s.

“We’ve stopped the traditional process of screening and hiring drivers,” he said. Instead, “some carriers are almost like used car salesmen. You look at some of the marketing literature out there, some of the billboards.”

Carriers need to bear in mind that many drivers have been burned by falsehoods and misrepresentations at former jobs. You can’t even get cute with the truth, Hindes said. If they were told at recruitment they’d be driving a new truck, then at orientation they hear, “Yeah, you’re going to get a new truck, but that only kicks in after you’ve been here nine months,” drivers aren’t going to take that as a half-truth; that was a lie.

They have to hear the same thing at recruitment that they hear at orientation, Hindes said, and then that better be the way it is once they get out there.

While this report does not delve directly into the honesty-in-recruitment issue, Hindes believes the implications of the study bear out what he’s saying.

“We as an industry have to be much more transparent with drivers,” he said. “We have to stop marketing practices that are misleading, because they’re not helping you. They’re actually hurting you. That’s the biggest takeaway I’d like to see come out of this.”

To obtain a free copy of Stay Metrics’ new whitepaper, “Is Early Turnover Damaging the Business? How and What Can We Do to Stop It?” visit

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  1. John

    August 3, 2018 at 6:29 am

    I can certainly relate. Tried going to work for Knight in Lakeland. The FIRST thing their orientation Lead asked, “Are you all stupid” ??? And he was Serious…. I immediately started to question my choice to work there….

  2. John hazlett

    August 3, 2018 at 8:56 am

    The problem lies with “OPERATIONS AND DISPATCH” ! With this “DO IT OR ELSE ATTITUDE” ! The way they schedule you, if you stop to get a cup of coffee, you’ll be late.
    Leaving you stranded at customers and unloading and your out of hours, when you re supposed to be recovering from a hard days work, “ALL DAY”, unloading on your break, and if you say something…Youll sit, you’ll never get home, you won’t get miles, and you’ll go to the crappiest places on the planet ! Why is it always the driver ? THE PROBLEMS LIES WITH OPERATIONS AND DISPATCH ! I ‘ve seen it for 28 years now ! Can’t believe Y’all can’t figure it out !

  3. Steven Hill

    August 4, 2018 at 5:09 am

    I agree on recruiting is a problem they fill position that is a piece of crap company. You go there and the lies begin. The trucker has a track record and a bulleye he/she not going to stay. So they don’t hire because of your track record to many jobs/crappie company. So a good what hire you how can we change this problem

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The Nation

U.S. economy could shrug off oil prices if disruption is brief



A gallon of regular in the U.S. stood at $2.59 on Tuesday, up 3 cents from the previous day, according to the AAA auto club. Analysts warned that pump prices could rise as much as 25 cents in the coming weeks, but it all depends on how quickly Saudi Arabia returns to normal production. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

DALLAS  — The price of gasoline crept higher after a weekend attack devastated Saudi Arabian oil output, but if the disruption to global supplies is short-lived, the impact on the U.S. economy will probably be modest.

Prices spiked Monday by more than 14%, their biggest single-day jump in years, but retreated Tuesday, reversing some of the increase. U.S. oil fell nearly 5% to $59.96 a barrel, while Brent, the international benchmark, dropped 5.3% to $65.34.

A gallon of regular in the U.S. stood at $2.59 on Tuesday, up 3 cents from the previous day, according to the AAA auto club. Analysts warned that pump prices could rise as much as 25 cents in the coming weeks, but it all depends on how quickly Saudi Arabia returns to normal production.

Tuesday’s reversal in prices came as Saudi Arabia’s energy minister reported that 50% of the production cut by the attack had been restored. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said full production would resume by the end of the month.

Even before Tuesday’s reversal in prices, economists downplayed the prospect that the price spike could send the economy reeling. After all, Monday’s surge only put prices back where they had been in May.

The attack knocked about 5% of the world crude supply offline. Oil prices have been trending mostly lower since spring because of concern about weak demand due to slowing economic growth.

Analysts say oil prices did not fully account for the risk posed by tension in the Middle East, but they will now. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed credit for the strike on Saudi oil facilities, but the Trump administration blamed Iran itself. The attack exposed the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.

Higher oil prices mean more costly gasoline, and that will sap consumers’ ability to spend on clothes, travel and restaurant meals. It will hit people who drive for a living.

Brian Alectine, a New York-based driver for the ride-hailing apps Lyft and Juno, said a 5- or 10-cent bump in the price of gasoline wouldn’t be too bad, but an increase of 25 cents a gallon would make it hard to earn a profit after expenses, including the monthly rent on the car he drives for work.

“The more you drive, the more gas you use,” Alectine said. “It will have a big impact.”

AAA said the nationwide average price of gasoline could rise 25 cents this month. Patrick DeHaan, an analyst for price-tracking app GasBuddy, predicted an increase of 10 to 20 cents a gallon. He saw reports of price spikes and people rushing to top off their tanks.

“I’m not sure where this panic is coming from,” DeHaan said. “There will be an increase, but prices will still remain over a dollar cheaper than they were earlier this decade.”

Any drag on the economy from lower consumer spending would be at least partially offset by increased investment in oil and gas production, according to several leading economists.

Gregory Daco, chief economist at Oxford Economics, estimated that the net effect could be a decline of about one-tenth of a percentage point in U.S. economic growth, which was 2.0% in the second quarter.

“An oil price shock will weigh on consumer spending and will add a further strain on the global economy, but we’re not talking about a major price shock at this level,” he said, while acknowledging that the situation could escalate if tension increases between the U.S. and Iran — a major producer whose output has been greatly squeezed by Trump administration sanctions.

U.S. crude poked above $100 a barrel in stretches between 2011 and mid-2014, yet the economy did not fall into recession. Brent peaked above $140 a barrel in July 2008, which some economists believe was an overlooked contributor to the Great Recession, which is more often linked to a financial crisis and, in the U.S., a housing-market bubble. Brent more than doubled in a few months after Iraq invaded Kuwait, another large oil producer, in 1990.

The United States was far more dependent on imported oil in 1990. Saudi Arabia remains the world’s biggest oil exporter, but the United States recently eclipsed both Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest producer.

That makes the impact of higher oil prices on the U.S. economy much more mixed. Even as consumers and certain industries pay more for fuel, higher oil prices will be good for the U.S. energy industry and states where oil is produced, including Texas, New Mexico and North Dakota.

The stock market has highlighted which sectors will be helped or hurt by higher oil prices. On Monday, shares of oil producers surged, naturally, while stocks in airline, cruise and retail companies generally fell. Delivery giants UPS and FedEx dipped. They consume lots of fuel, and their business will suffer if higher energy prices cause consumers to reduce their online shopping.

For airlines, fuel is their second biggest cost behind only labor. Airlines were surprisingly adept at adapting to the last big run-up in fuel prices, but it takes them time to raise fares high enough to cover the extra cost.

American Airlines burned more than 4.4 billion gallons of fuel last year at a cost of nearly $10 billion, including taxes. On Monday, its shares fell 7.3%, more sharply than other carriers. Unlike most others, American doesn’t buy derivative investments as a hedge against fuel spikes, and its relatively heavy debt load leaves it vulnerable if the economy slows for any reason, including a jump in energy prices.

American estimates that over a full year, each penny increase in the price of fuel costs it $45 million. The price went up about 15 cents a gallon over the weekend.

If the fuel price increase persists for even a few weeks, analysts said, it could cause airlines to rethink their aggressive growth plans for 2020.

Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, said U.S. consumers are in good shape to handle a temporary increase in gasoline prices — with some savings, a tight job market and accelerating wage growth. Consumer psychology, however, can be difficult to predict.

“I don’t think this increase in oil prices … would be enough to single-handedly tip us into a recession,” he said. “The one cause for concern is that the consumer is carrying the economy. If the consumer starts to pack it in, the recession odds increase quite significantly.”




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The Nation

EPA set to end California’s ability to regulate fuel economy



California's authority to set its own, tougher emissions standards goes back to a waiver issued by Congress during passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970. The state has long pushed automakers to adopt more fuel-efficient passenger vehicles that emit less pollution. A dozen states and the District of Columbia also follow California's fuel economy standards. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is poised to revoke California’s authority to set auto mileage standards, asserting that only the federal government has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.

Conservative and free-market groups have been asked to attend a formal announcement of the rollback set for Wednesday afternoon at Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington.

Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said Tuesday that her group was among those invited to the event featuring EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The move comes after the Justice Department recently opened an antitrust investigation into a deal between California and four automakers for tougher pollution and related mileage requirements than those sought by President Donald Trump. Trump also has sought to relax Obama-era federal mileage standards nationwide, weakening a key effort by his Democratic predecessor to slow climate change.

Top California officials and environmental groups pledged legal action to stop the rollback.

The White House declined to comment Tuesday, referring questions to EPA. EPA’s press office did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment.

But EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the National Automobile Dealers Association on Tuesday that the Trump administration would move “in the very near future” to take steps toward establishing one nationwide set of fuel-economy standards.

“We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation,” he said, adding that higher fuel economy standards would hurt consumers by increasing the average sticker price of new cars and requiring automakers to produce more electric vehicles.

Word of the pending announcement came as Trump traveled to California on Tuesday for an overnight trip that includes GOP fundraising events near San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

California’s authority to set its own, tougher emissions standards goes back to a waiver issued by Congress during passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970. The state has long pushed automakers to adopt more fuel-efficient passenger vehicles that emit less pollution. A dozen states and the District of Columbia also follow California’s fuel economy standards.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that the Trump administration’s action will hurt both U.S. automakers and American families. He said California would fight the administration in federal court.

“You have no basis and no authority to pull this waiver,” Becerra, a Democrat, said in a statement, referring to Trump. “We’re ready to fight for a future that you seem unable to comprehend.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the White House “has abdicated its responsibility to the rest of the world on cutting emissions and fighting global warming.”

“California won’t ever wait for permission from Washington to protect the health and safety of children and families,” said Newsom, a Democrat.

The deal struck in July between California and four of the world’s largest automakers — Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — bypassed the Trump administration’s plan to freeze emissions and fuel economy standards adopted under Obama at 2021 levels.

The four automakers agreed with California to reduce emissions by 3.7% per year starting with the 2022 model year, through 2026. That compares with 4.7% yearly reductions through 2025 under the Obama standards. Emissions standards are closely linked with fuel economy requirements because vehicles pollute less if they burn fewer gallons of fuel.

The U.S. transportation sector is the nation’s biggest single source of planet-warming greenhouse gasses.

Wheeler said Tuesday: “California will be able to keep in place and enforce programs to address smog and other forms of air pollution caused by motor vehicles.” But fuel economy has been one of the key regulatory tools the state has used to reduce harmful emissions.

Environmentalists condemned the Trump administration’s expected announcement.

“Everyone wins when we adopt strong clean car standards as our public policy,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “Strong clean car standards give us healthier air to breathe, help protect us from the urgent threat of climate change and save Americans hundreds of dollars a year in gas expenses.”




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The Nation

Study finds hair test 14.2 times more likely to spot drugs than urinalysis



After the Department of Health and Human Services failed to develop guidelines for hair testing as mandated in the 2015 FAST Act, in October 2018 President Donald Trump signed a bill that required HHS to report progress on hair testing within 30 days of passage and laid out a schedule, including benchmarks, for completion of hair testing guidelines. In neither case did the HHS respond, but now guidelines have been sent to the Office of Management and Budget. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

WASHINGTON — A University of Central Arkansas (UCA) study has concluded that a recent survey of 151,662 truck drivers’ paired urine and hair drug screenings, in which 12,824 failed the hair test, “can be generalized across the national driver population.”

Based on this study, 310,250 truck drivers would fail a hair test for illicit drug and opioid use.

That number is based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figure that there are 3.3 million employed truck drivers and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association estimate that there are 350,000 owner-operators.

Broken down by segment, the Labor Department says there are 915,320 light truck or delivery services drivers, 1,800,320 heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 604,100 industrial truck and tractor operators.

The Trucking Alliance, an industry-based safety coalition of freight transportation, logistics and supporting businesses that adopt specific operating standards, recently conducted a survey of 15 trucking companies that utilize a pre-employment hair test when hiring commercial truck drivers, along with the federally required urine test.

To compare the results, the companies submitted paired drug and urine test results of 151,662 truck driver applicants.

The test results indicated a major discrepancy between the number of drivers who failed a urinalysis drug screen and those who failed a hair test.

While 949 (0.6%) applicants failed the urine test, 12,824 (8.5%) either failed or refused to submit to a hair test.

The U.S. Department of Transportation classifies refusals to submit to a drug or alcohol screening as a failure.

This yielded a hair test failure rate 14.2 times greater than with the urine test.

Cocaine was the most prevalent drug, followed by opioids, including heroin.

Marijuana was the third-most widely detected drug.

All of these drugs are prohibited by federal law and automatically disqualify persons with a commercial driver license from operating a commercial truck.

Proponents of hair testing have been pushing for several years to have the Department of Transportation recognize hair testing as a viable tool in screening out substance abusers who might seek a job driving a big rig.

The FAST Act highway bill of 2015 had required the Department of Health and Human Services to issue scientific and technical guidelines for hair testing by December 2016, but that deadline was missed.

Then in October 2018, President Donald Trump signed a bill that required HHS to report progress on hair testing within 30 days of passage and laid out a schedule, including benchmarks, for completion of hair testing guidelines.

The guidelines would be applicable to all federal agencies, not just the DOT.

Sources told The Trucker that a draft of guidelines has been written and sent to the Office of Management and Budget (in essence, the White House) for review.

Feedback from OMB said the guidelines were too broad and unenforceable, the source said.

As for its study, the Trucking Alliance asked the UCA College of Business to analyze the survey and determine if the test results could be applied, with accuracy, to the national U.S. truck driver population.

The UCA study, titled, “An Examination of the Geographical Correlation Between Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers,” concluded:

  • The Trucking Alliance sample is large enough to draw inferences to the national driver population, with a 99% confidence level and a margin of error of less than 1%.
  • The Trucking Alliance sample is representative of the national truck driver population.
  • The Trucking Alliance urine vs. hair test results can be generalized across the national driver population.

“We now have clear evidence that hundreds of thousands of drug-impaired truck drivers are skirting the current drug test system and creating a dangerous public safety risk,” said Lane Kidd, managing director of the Trucking Alliance.

The Trucking Alliance says it supports reforms that can improve the safety and security of commercial drivers, reduce large-truck accidents, and eventually eliminate all large-truck crash fatalities.

Member companies collectively employ 82,000 professional drivers, logistics and management personnel, and contract with thousands of independent owner-operators to serve their respective supply chain networks. These companies operate approximately 70,000 large tractors, and more than 220,000 semitrailers and intermodal containers.

Members of the Trucking Alliance include Cargo Transporters, Dupré Logistics, J.B. Hunt Transport, KLLM Transport Services, Knight-Swift Transportation, Maverick USA, May Trucking Company and US Xpress.

UCA is located in Conway, Arkansas.

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