A new survey of SMEs by Close Brothers Business Barometer has found that driver retention is the biggest challenge facing transport operators today.

They found that businesses have experienced a 20% driver turnover on average in the last year. 15% said that this turnover was due to a desire for a better work-life balance for drivers, but 36% said drivers were moving on in search of better wages and benefits.

The survey also found that 31% of transport operators found it difficult to keep drivers after training them, and 25% found it hard to hire people with suitable qualifications for key roles.

A number of transport companies said that they have been putting preventative measures in place, in order to keep their best drivers from leaving. This included 33% of companies offering drivers competitive benefits packages including bonuses, healthcare, and annual pay rises, with over a quarter of companies creating personal development plans, or agree a definitive career plan for the driver.

John Fawcett, who is Managing Director of the Transport Division at Close Brothers Asset Finance said, “It’s clear from both the research and speaking to our customers that transport firms are facing a number of challenges that are impacting on their ability to attract and retain drivers.

“One of the main reasons for drivers moving jobs in the past 12 months was because of a better salary and benefits offered elsewhere. However, while remuneration is obviously important, recent studies show that the majority of drivers are happiest in a workplace that meets their needs and considers their well-being in terms of flexible working, company culture, corporate reputation and career progression. And it’s no different in the transport sector.”