How Putting People First Drives Retention

Driver turnover and driver shortage are two of the biggest challenges consistently facing the transportation and logistics industry. According to the American Trucking Association, turnover rates in the industry reached almost 87 percent in 2017 and the industry is currently short about 50,000 drivers. The ATA says if nothing changes, the industry will be short about 175,000 drivers by 2026.

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As many companies are implementing programs such as signing bonuses to attract new drivers, one family-owned company has steadily created a culture that not only attracts drivers but also retains them, resulting in low turnover in an industry where that isn’t the norm. A. Duie Pyle, a Northeast-based transportation and logistics company, has drawn from its core values and its “people first” mentality to create and implement employee engagement and recognition programs that build a culture aimed at retaining its people.

Creating a “People First” Culture

Each of the employee engagement and recognition programs Pyle has implemented was created specifically to support the company’s values and reinforce them with its employees. These programs are an example of what works to retain employees, but it’s not about creating a program just to say that the company did it. There needs to be a purpose behind these programs and at Pyle, the heart of each initiative builds from the company’s core values.

In an industry where most employees work remotely, putting those people first and creating initiatives to make them feel like part of the company is incredibly important. When employees are not in an office or on the floor interacting with customers every day, it’s imperative companies find ways to engage them and help them feel like a valued member of the operation.

Implementing Engagement Initiatives

To build a “people first” culture that attracts and retains employees, companies need to put thought behind the process and realize culture starts from the top down. However, that also means leadership needs to listen to employee concerns. Pyle distributes a quarterly survey to all employees for feedback, and leadership reviews and addresses the comments and provides periodic updates on how they’re addressing concerns. The survey gives leadership analytics that help them continually improve the company.

Investing in employees is key to creating a culture that retains employees long-term. When employees can see a future with the company, they’re more likely to stay and build a career there. To do this, Pyle implemented a Leadership Development Program which all employees are eligible for. The program allows participants to experience every department and then decide which part of the company they want to move into. Currently, 18 leadership development graduates are still with the company, with several in operations management roles. Pyle also strives to hire for leadership roles from within, a goal that the leadership development program and other mentorship programs help facilitate.

Because Pyle is a transportation and logistics company, its drivers make up the heart of its operation. As such, Pyle places importance on continually recognizing its drivers. Throughout Driver Appreciation Month, the company holds several events to celebrate and recognize its drivers while also bringing this remote workforce together to help them feel like part of the larger Pyle family. Pyle also holds an annual internal trucking championship, which is held at each of the terminals and is another opportunity for the drivers to spend time together in a relaxed atmosphere.

These programs alone won’t solve a company’s hiring and retention challenges, nor will they immediately create a top-notch culture. Every industry faces challenges hiring during peak seasons and every industry faces turnover, but by finding initiatives that create an atmosphere where employees feel appreciated and valued, companies can find success hiring and retaining employees. The key is to build programs based on the company’s values, and from there success will come.


Frank GranieriFrank Granieri is Chief Operating Officer of A. Duie Pyle and a member of the company’s Board of Directors. He joined Pyle in 2012, bringing more than 15 years of transportation industry, logistics and executive management experience to his role with the company. Facilitating company activity in marketing, sales, technology and logistics consulting, he is also responsible for A. Duie Pyle’s Custom Dedicated, Warehousing & Distribution and Brokerage business units, which comprehensively serve a wide-array of industries. 

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