Showing your drivers how much you appreciate them not only helps them feel valued, supported and an integral part of the team, it positively impacts your bottom line. Low morale is associated with lower levels of productivity, poorer performance and higher turnover. And what company can afford that?
While showing drivers appreciation should always be a year-round initiative, with the holiday season approaching, now is the perfect time to ramp up your efforts. To that end, let’s look at five tips to boost appreciation and your bottom line not only during the holiday season but every season.
1. Put Social Media to Work
Shout-outs on social media are one of the simplest ways to show your drivers appreciation. Highlight individual drivers in social media posts and include in the post what makes that driver special and the positive impact they have on the company.
For example, going the extra mile, meeting set goals such as no speeding violations over a certain time period or recognition for their years of service or a work anniversary. Include testimonials from other drivers and management as well as a photo or even a short video.
2. Hand Out Bonuses and Perks
Money, perks and merchandise are always effective ways to show appreciation. Creating competitive challenges between drivers such as who has the best fuel economy over a set time, or reduces idling by a certain percentage is good for both your drivers and your bottom line.
Recognize those drivers who meet or win challenges with cash bonuses, gift cards, or branded company merchandise. And don’t forget to give positive feedback for their accomplishments.
3. Ensure Trucks are Reliable and Comfortable
Truckers who take over the road jobs are going to be living in their rig for days at a time, so make it as reliable and comfortable as possible and you’ll have happier and more productive drivers, fewer breakdowns and lower maintenance and repair expenses — a win-win for all.
Provide drivers with the best trucks you can afford — ones that have low mileage and are up to date on maintenance schedules. Keep trucks clean by using a professional cleaning service between runs and improve ergonomics with seats that improve posture and make driving more comfortable. The more comfortable your driver is behind the wheel, the better it is for your driver’s well-being and you. The likelihood of an accident is lower as are stops to relieve muscle cramps and tension from poor ergonomics.
4. Provide More Home Time
For over-the-road truckers, being away from home is a job requirement, so time spent at home is especially valued and appreciated. Improve home/life balance and you improve your drivers’ attitude, emotional state and job performance. Every fleet differs on the most efficient way to achieve a better balance, but common methods are:
- Better home-time options overall, such as guaranteed home time daily or weekly, a certain number of yearly days off, one weekend off every two weeks, or one week off after being on the road for three weeks.
- Create routes with longer out and home times. For example, seven days driving with four days home followed by seven days driving with three days home.
Whatever you choose, try to keep it on a schedule to be most effective.
5. Keep the Communication Lines Open
Developing a professional relationship with your drivers is essential to helping them feel appreciated and valued. Since drivers can be on the road for weeks at a time, staying in touch, listening to what they have to say, and using their feedback to make changes will build respect, loyalty and trust.
Make it a top priority to contact your drivers after a certain number of days or weeks for a conversation. This can be over the phone, on-site, or via video conference such as Skype or Zoom. Ask open-ended questions that give the driver a chance to respond with more than a yes or no — ideally, questions that promote constructive criticism or praise for what you are doing right.
Putting a Price on Happiness
Truckers are in very high demand and they are more than willing to jump ship to another company if they feel that you are not doing everything you can to keep them happy. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the driver shortage has the potential to rise to 174,000 by 2024. With the average replacement cost per truck driver around $12,000 losing current drivers can significantly impact your bottom line.
Recognition, bonuses and perks, reliable and comfortable rigs, more home time, and open communication are small prices to pay compared to the cost of losing drivers and replacing them.
So show appreciation — you’ll keep your drivers happy and you’ll be happy too.