Some time ago I wrote an article called “its time that I made time for that”, the main point I was attempting to make was that we all get caught up in getting ahead and at times can forget about the family at home and how our crazy lifestyles impact theirs. In this particular article I was talking about making time for the family and for those relationships that we all need and cherish but at times in our lives we might take for granted.
Really what the article was about was that thing that is called balance, which in the trucking can easily be written off as a group of people sitting in a circle holding hands and singing “Kumbaya my friend”. Talking about a life balance Family, Career, Health, and Friends has not been something that makes much sense, given the lifestyle necessary to do the job for a typical truck driver. This has been the topic for folks with too much time on their hands and are overflowing with good intentions you know the folks who posses the very strong Human Resource gene that have left us all confused over what is politically correct and what is not!
So why do I bring this all back up again, I do it because it occurs to me that there might be something to this whole idea. I was asked recently to participate in a pilot program for a product that will be coming to market over the next three to six months called “The Healthy Trucker”. I tell you some details on my goals and where I’m at with the program a little later. What occurred to me was that we all get lost in our own little worlds and sometimes just take the status quo as being etched in stone, it’s just the way thing are. A little thinking outside the box leads me to this idea.
Forward thinking companies with nine to five workers, no matter what sector of the economy know that if their people have good life balance that they will get higher volume better quality longer lasting employees. A quote from Wikipedia reads, “Organizations play a large part in how their employees deal with work-life balance. Some companies have taken proactive measures in providing programs and initiatives to help their employees cope with work-life balance”. When I look at typical business environment where people go home every night and live their lives, come in to work and do the same routine five days a week I can also understand employers discounting the efforts required to be effective on the is subject. It’s your free time deal with it any way you feel fit want to be a couch potato, cool, want to be active and get involved with physical fitness, your family your community, fill your boots.
But when I think of a driver and irregularity of the work hours and the fact that in many cases there is no regularity in the workweek it starts to make sense to me that this is an area that needs to be explored to a greater extent. We all know that we as an industry are not attracting many young folks to trucking because of many reasons but one that would be right near the top would be lifestyle! ? Add to that all we have read and heard that the sedentary lifestyle of a truck driver is contributing to an array of health issues from high blood pressure to diabetes, sleep apnea, and premature death etc. I like many of you have a history of heart issues in my family, Dad fatal heart attack at age 50, Truck Driver, Grandfather heart attack survivor, Engineer on the New York Central, Wabash, Uncle died heart attack Engineer on the CPR, all heavy smokers, gee I wonder what’s in my future if I don’t start paying attention NOW?
I have done many seminars and the reoccurring theme when I discuss retention and recruitment has been the same and I close each session with simple quote “Create a positive company spirit, positive company culture with a sense of community in a value-driven organization and you will reap the benefits of low Driver Turnover. Obviously most of you drivers who are reading this have not had to endure one of my talks so I will break this down some for you.
What I am trying to tell folks who run trucking companies is that open door policies are great things if done right but most companies who say they have these scenarios actually have something quite different. What they have is an open front door and an open back door and many drivers walk right through and move on to the next opportunity. What they need to do is to create programs that make it difficult for you drivers to even consider leaving the company you’re at, the best way to do that is to create a sense of community, of caring of services, and yes, that help establish a life balance for the drivers and Owner Operators.
Bringing drivers health and wellness options is the next logical offering to drivers and O/O’s from trucking companies it makes perfect sense and might just bring the balance needed for a driver to be successful! This brings me back to the “Healthy Trucker” I am now in week11 of this program. I have lost 11 pounds, my goal is to get to 200 pounds by Jan 1, 2014 I am 6 foot tall and have been slightly overweight for what now feels like my whole life. So far I like the program, I record my meals every day, I have talked to a registered dietician and a physical fitness coach. I get text each day that are hints on how to make smart decisions on what I include in my diet and it seems to be working. I am also looking at how a driver on the road could use this and I can see how folks on the road could benefit from it. It is driver friendly; no doubt, I will keep you updated as my deadline approaches.
You can find more information on “The Healthy Trucker” at http://www.healthytrucker.com
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight