Though pay and bonus packages continue to increase for both company drivers and owner-operators across the industry, the often-obscured issue of how they are paid and the consistency of their wages is becoming a more critical factor.
For instance, according to a compilation of feedback from 8,500 truck drivers in the TL sector via an electronic platform developed by WorkHound, drivers are calculating their miles independent of the motor carriers they work for—and that number almost never matches up, noted Max Farrell, the company’s CEO and co-founder.
“Carriers paying by the mile are typically paying [in] household goods mileage or sometimes in practical miles, but this still leaves a discrepancy to drivers that needs to be explained,” he noted conference call with reporters hosted by research firm Stifel Capital Markets.
“One of the big discussion points that we hear is, ‘I was not paid what I was promised.’ In trucking, especially, recruiters are promising the ‘high deal’ scenario – what drivers should expect to earn at a company if all of the verifiable employment information is correct and the driver gets all of the miles,” he emphasized. “But this is trucking and perfect doesn’t often happen. So as a result, drivers don’t get all of their verifiable employment information or the freight isn’t great that particular week.”
Two other big topics: reimbursements and detention pay.
“Due to the nature of trucking, drivers often rely on reimbursements for tolls or weigh scale [fees] and the process for reimbursement can be deceiving for drivers, especially newcomers to the industry or to a particular company,” Farrell said. “We also see challenges with detention pay as drivers may have to take several steps to ensure that their detention pay is recorded so that they can be properly compensated for that time.”
Andrew Kirpalani, WorkHound’s chief technology officer and co-founder, noted that “happiness is the smallest amount of difference between expectations and reality” and, based on his firm’s feedback data, it’s the little things that matter in the trucking business—especially when it comes to pay.
“The opportunities to go above and beyond can make the difference between an engaged and happy driver and the driver that is frustrated,” he explained. “But nobody has found the perfect mix.”
For example, Kirpalani pointed to issues surrounding bonus money. “We get comments about bonuses that are really about them being taken away for certain things,” he said. “The thing about bonuses—and I personally have done this with consulting work—is when a bonus is promised or suggested to somebody, you really start to expect it right away. And if that bonus is pulled for something—especially for something that somebody sees as trivial—that creates a lot of frustration.”
Kirpalani said Workhound’s feedback data indicated, for instance, that drivers would get their safety bonus pulled because they’re not able to attend a safety conference call—even though they’re on the road.
“Again, that creates a lot of frustration—so again it’s [back to] happiness; the littlest possible difference between expectations and reality. If you set that expectation of a bonus, you really need to do everything you can to deliver on that bonus and especially when it comes to trivial or minor infractions, recognize that of you really need to worry about actually damaging your credibility by pulling bonuses for minor factors.”