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Are open door policies overrated?


How many times have you heard a fleet manager or trucking company representative boast about the company’s open door policy?

It may come as a surprise that most drivers don’t care about open door policies. That’s a conclusion that can be drawn from the Best Fleets to Drive For program and more than 5,000 driver surveys conducted each year.

Speaking at a recent Full Circle Customer Appreciation event hosted by Northbridge Insurance, Best Fleets coordinator Jane Jazrawy revealed only 1% of the 5,300 drivers surveyed this year alone cited an open door policy as one of the things they liked best about the company they worked for.

And only two drivers mentioned it as something that needed to be improved.

“Carriers talk about it, drivers don’t talk about it,” Jazrawy said of open door policies.

But that’s not to say communication isn’t important to drivers. Quite the opposite. Surveyed drivers often indicated communication needs to be improved. Just don’t call it an open door policy. Open door policies, Jazrawy noted, place the onus on the driver to raise concerns with management – something that can be difficult to do when living an over-the-road lifestyle. The door may always be open but that does a professional driver little good if he or she is never there to walk through it.

Fleets that boasted the happiest drivers took steps to actively solicit feedback and opinions and didn’t leave it up to the driver to bring those issues forward through an open door policy.

This can be done a number of ways. Jazrawy listed town hall meetings, conference calls and regular driver surveys as a few methods successful fleets are using to solicit driver feedback.

The most satisfied drivers work for companies that are accessible and those that follow up on promises, take action on concerns and keep drivers informed – not those that simply have an open door policy.

Communication is more than an open door policy. It affects all other aspects of the job that can contribute to a driver’s satisfaction. Take pay, for example. That’s another issue that was often referenced through the Best Fleets driver surveys.

Drivers want better transparency when it comes to how they’re paid, especially for things such as detention time.

They also want more predictable pay and those who work for a carrier that offers some form of guaranteed pay tend to be happier.

“Really, what it comes down to, if you can figure out pay – not just how much they’re making but the quality of how they get paid – that is a really big factor, and communication. Communication where, do you have a way of getting feedback from drivers without drivers having to come to you?” Jazrawy explained.


James Menzies

James Menzies

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 james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.
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