As I write this, it’s National Trucking Week, and that means it’s time for politicians to write letters thanking Canada’s hardworking drivers, for fleets to host barbecues, and for truck stops and suppliers to provide giveaways to let drivers know they care. I think all those initiatives are laudable and necessary, but why is truck driver appreciation so often limited to one week of the year?
I think truck driver appreciation should be expressed throughout the year, and to be sure, there are companies that do show their gratitude every day. But many fleets could be a little more imaginative when it comes to showing their drivers and staff that they appreciate their efforts. It seems the folks at CarriersEdge agree with me. While pondering this subject myself, they distributed a list of six ways some of the Best Fleets to Drive For (voted as such by their drivers through the annual competition administered by CarriersEdge for the Truckload Carriers Association) have chosen to recognize their drivers.
“Most successful fleets do little things all the time to show their appreciation, rather than waiting for one designated week in the fall,” said Jane Jazrawy, chief executive of CarriersEdge. “Grand gestures that happen once a year can be undermined by daily frustrations and actions perceived as slights or insults.”
Here are some suggestions from CarriersEdge on how to make driver appreciation a year-round event:
Start them early: “If your company has taken the time to build a safe and productive culture, you want new hires to feel as though they’re a part of that from the first day,” Jazrawy said. Successful fleets are using orientation, training, mentoring and coaching programs to get new employees up to speed. One fleet places new hires in a dedicated lane for up to four weeks with one dispatcher overseeing them, eliminating the stress over trip planning
Give them a voice: Lots of companies talk about open-door policies and keeping the lines of communication open with employees. The old-fashioned suggestion box doesn’t cut it. Fleets are using driver councils, surveys to determine driver opinions and concerns, and Facebook and Twitter accounts to create online communities in which drivers can submit photos and stories about their experiences on the road.
Keep them informed: Rumors fueled by incomplete or inaccurate information are one of the great underminers of morale and a driver’s sense that he or she is valued and respected.
“Smart fleets make sure drivers get accurate and timely information about company operations, road and industry conditions and what’s going on in the lives of their fellow employees,” Jazrawy said.
Keep them healthy: Life on the road can be tough on health. Companies are providing weight-loss and fitness programs, access to gyms, on-staff health and wellness coordinators, on-site health and dental clinics at terminals, and equipment for in-cab cardio and strength training.
Welcome them back: Drivers are often away from the office or terminal for weeks at a time. “Drivers can sometimes get the feeling that no one remembers they’re out there,” Jazrawy said. Some fleets are using electronic signboards to display customized greetings to drivers returning to the yard; a few integrate that with internal notifications so office staff can go out to greet them directly.
Give them what they really need: Does a driver really need one more cap or t-shirt?, CarriersEdge asks. Fleets are focusing on things that make a difference to drivers’ lives and job performance, whether it’s technology (providing up-to-date devices), concierge services at terminals to help drivers with personal and professional services while they’re on the road, or discounted or free work gear.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies