Trying to Solve the Driver Shortage? – Focus on Health and Wellness

was placed on the screen. Glenn Caldwell, Vice President of Sales for NAL Insurance, asked the audience if they knew the significance of this number for the trucking industry. As we learned, the number 61 represents the average lifespan of a professional truck driver in the United States, a number that is significantly below the national average for the rest of population (76 for males in the US, 80 in Canada).

One of the handouts at the Seminar was a 144 page report entitled Research on the Health and Wellness of Commercial Truck and Bus Drivers, Summary of an International Conference from the Transportation Research Board of the American Trucking Research Institute of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, published in 2012. The study focused on a range of issues and actions that can have an impact on the health and wellness of truck drivers.

                                              Some Common Driver Health Risk Issues and Potential Actions

H and W ChartV3

H and W ChartV3

ROI Metrics for Employee H&W Programs

One of the overriding goals of the H&W conference was to determine whether potential ROI could be identified for both large and small commercial carriers if they initiated employee H&W programs.

Determining what constitutes an ROI metric for employee H&W programs is probably most readily grasped as simply the ratio of dollars saved or returned to a function of dollars invested or expended in the conduct of such programs. Many speakers at the conference pointed out that numerous factors might be considered in determining both the costs and other quantifiable efforts that go into conducting an H&W program. These include at least the following:

Employee costs associated with instituting, leading, and conducting an H&W program within a company;
Employment of occupational health nurses, physicians or physician assistants, wellness coaches, employee health monitoring, and human resources personnel;
Costs of administering HRAs;
Employee education sessions (e.g., on nutrition, weight management, smoking cessation, and diabetes) and purchase of educational materials;
Employee time off from work to participate in H&W activities;
Access to physical exercise equipment and facilities;
Preventive medicine initiatives (e.g., offering immunizations);
Sleep disorder clinic evaluations and treatments;
Medical treatment; and
Senior and mid-level management time involved in championing and running a good H&W program.

Likewise, various speakers cited numerous indicators of cost savings that could be accounted for in the equation, including savings in at least the following:

Direct costs (e.g., fewer hospital claims, physician visits, and pharmacy costs),
Indirect costs (e.g., less absenteeism, fewer disability issues), and
Future costs (e.g., cuts in health services to treat complications, less disease progression, or keeping healthy people healthy).
But the dollar values included in ROI figures constitute only a portion of the story. Many more “indicators of the worth” of an employee H&W program transcend dollars and cents, such as employee pride, satisfaction, and retention.

The Healthy Trucker Pilot Study

In a later session at the DFP workshop, Glenn spoke about a six month pilot study being conducted by 30 Canadian trucking companies with 51 drivers participated. Some of Canada’s leading trucking firms such as Challenger, SLH, Bison, Highland and Canada Cartage participated in “The Healthy Trucker” pilot. Here are some of the highlights.

The study had the following objectives. Eighty-seven percent of the drivers were seeking to lose weight or eat better and 11 percent were hoping to increase activity.

Seventy-five percent were happy with the results, 38 percent lost weight and 18 percent reduced their medications. One of the important findings for the participants was that before the pilot, 38 percent expected to stay with their fleet over the next twelve months; this percentage jumped to 74 percent after the pilot. In this era where driver turnover is the ninety percent range, this is an encouraging finding about the value of health and wellness programs. With new driver recruiting and training costs running in the range of $5000 to $10,000 per person, reducing these costs would offset the costs of dietitians and fitness advisors. The drivers in the pilot lost a combined 242 pounds or 4.84 pounds per driver.

The DFP Seminar provided a set of 10 tips for drivers to maintain a healthy lifestyle that ranged from drinking water, eating more frequently and eating breakfast to exercising body and mind and getting more sleep. Clearly extending the life of drivers through improved health is all about being a good corporate citizen and is good business.

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Dan Goodwill, President, Dan Goodwill & Associates Inc. has over 30 years of experience in the logistics and transportation industries in both Canada and the United States. Dan has held executive level positions in the industry including President of Yellow Transportation’s Canada division, President of Clarke Logistics (Canada’s largest Intermodal Marketing Company), General Manager of the Railfast division of TNT and Vice President, Sales & Marketing, TNT Overland Express.

Goodwill is currently a consultant to manufacturers and distributors, helping them improve their transportation processes and save millions of dollars in freight spend. Mr. Goodwill also provides consulting services to transportation and logistics organizations to help them improve their profitability.

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  • Hi Dan,
    51 drivers in the pilot lost a combined 7262lbs – that’s 145lbs each! Could there be a digit missing for the total drivers in the pilot, or a decimal missing from the weight loss total?
    Great initiative for our industry nonetheless and kudos to Glenn and his team for promoting and you for sharing through your blog!
    Regards, Sheldon

    • Hi Sheldon, thank you for doing the math. I took another look at Glenn’s slide deck and these are the numbers that he displayed. I will send Glenn an e mail to verify or correct the numbers.