Fourteen hours. That’s the maximum daily limit for truckers to be on duty, but the job really lasts 24 hours since they spend all day away from home. Many long-haul drivers are on the road 4-6 weeks at a time, and every minute seems to slowly tick by during rush-hour traffic.
The general public knows life as a trucker is difficult, and many blue-collar workers would never consider joining the profession.
Understanding the physical and mental strains of the job gives many fleets motivation to think holistically about improving drivers’ work lifestyle. One way for improving job satisfaction is to connect drivers to a community that offers around-the-clock support, inside and outside the cab.
Fleets who treat drivers as their most important customer do not limit communications to business tasks with dispatchers and back-office personnel. They create a support network and expand connections in ways that help drivers better do their jobs, save time, and improve their livelihood.
When drivers have a dependable support network, they can find self-help solutions in situations where they otherwise may feel overlooked or disrespected. This ultimately can reduce the chances of them leaving. Building driver loyalty and avoiding conflict is easier said than done, however, since nothing in trucking ever goes exactly as planned.
Improving the driver experience with communities has many possibilities. Central to this effort is to create better connections with drivers inside and outside the cab. Here’s a few tips to help jumpstart your efforts:
1. Prioritize communication
Studies and experience show that good workplace communication increases morale, engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, and cooperation. Conversely, 86% of employees and executives cite a lack of effective communication and collaboration as the main cause for failures in the workplace.
One of the best communication strategies is to bring “watercooler talk” to drivers. Regularly send corporate news, share entertaining information, and celebrate meaningful driver contributions. Also, keep news relevant, informal, and fun.
Fleets can provide drivers with technology, such as wireless headsets, to ensure they are having safe, hands-free conversations with friends, family, and peers while on the road. Additionally, you can add Slack channels or social media groups to some mobile platforms that will help drivers communicate with one another and build camaraderie.
Social channels should be a place of solace and freedom – not something the office tightly controls. Executives and front-line personnel can take an active role, however, by engaging with drivers on social media to share good news and updates, and even bad news at times to create transparency.
2. Consider the whole person
Most fleets focus on financial health for drivers, but investing in physical and mental health is equally as important. Show employees that you care about those aspects to create loyalty. In fact, studies show that employees rank work-life balance just behind financial stability as a highly important aspect of their jobs.
Consider offering perks like fitness classes at your offices or gym memberships at nationwide facilities. You could provide drivers with resistance bands for low-impact cardio workouts, and encourage them to download prerecorded classes or host live, online classes.
Also, fleets that provide top-notch healthcare benefits and organize checkups and health monitoring are showing drivers they care about the whole person. The result is drivers feeling happier, healthier, and more engaged.
3. Show appreciation
Expressing and receiving appreciation can be difficult and even awkward at times for the giver and receiver. Fortunately, there are ways of showing drivers appreciation that can be applied uniformly to increase engagement and retention.
Creating reward-based metrics that drivers can achieve without pushing the limits, so to speak, is one way to show year-round appreciation. These metrics could be centered on compliance, safety, positive customer reviews, and other areas that drivers already do – but may not be getting recognized for.
Gift cards and other non-cash rewards often serve as the best tokens of appreciation for achieving goals, more so than taxable payroll bonuses. That’s because drivers use them to create experiences and get things they want, rather than pay bills. Also, be sure to publicize driver successes through a company channel on a driver app, social media or newsletter.
Recognition and reward programs work because they give drivers something to look forward to while providing fun, camaraderie, and a sense of community.
4. Offer training/education programs
Professionals of all types want to work for companies that offer career advancement opportunities. Stagnation is a demotivator and often is the cause of turnover for a company’s longest-tenured and most valuable employees.
Fleets can offer professional training or educational programs to give drivers additional certifications, and even tuition reimbursement for degrees that relate to transportation or logistics (or any other industry).
There’s also an opportunity to have programs that allow drivers to be trainers, coaches or work their way into dispatch and other office roles.
Is Your Fleet Doing Enough to Foster a Sense of Community?
Building a driver community doesn’t have to be expensive. The most important factor is to make a genuine effort to support drivers’ best interests and include their input. Following these tips will help drivers feel like valued team members to increase loyalty and create benefits that also drop straight to the bottom line.
For more information on how to build a truck driver community to improve retention, download “The Ultimate Guide for Recruiting & Retaining the New Fleet of Drivers.” Also, see our previous blog for tips on recruiting and retaining new drivers.
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Discover all the tips fleets need to understand what new recruits are looking for and what will keep current drivers on the job in our guide, The Ultimate Guide for Recruiting & Retaining the New Fleet of Drivers.
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