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Survey says… driver job satisfaction dropping

DON MILLS, Ont. - Canada's truckers are slightly less satisfied with their jobs than they were last year, while carriers could do a better job in their day-to-day dealings with those behind the wheel ...


DON MILLS, Ont. – Canada’s truckers are slightly less satisfied with their jobs than they were last year, while carriers could do a better job in their day-to-day dealings with those behind the wheel and need to improve their in-house training programs.

These were among the findings of the fourth annual Truck News/ Motortruck Rate your Carriers survey, in which truckers from across Canada answered questions on subjects as diverse as safety and pay. Most questions were answered on scales of one to five, with five being the highest ranking.

While 46 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, that compares to 51.8 per cent last year. About 30 per cent were neutral on the issue, similar to the 28.4 per cent in early 1999. Seven per cent were not satisfied and 15 per cent were somewhat dissatisfied, compared to 5.1 and eight per cent, respectively, which were the ratings recorded in last year’s survey.

The drop may have been partly due to the timing of the survey, which coincided with some of the highest fuel prices in 10 years.

Truckers were most interested in being rewarded for accident-free mileage, at 4.64, followed by on-time delivery at 4.54, and customer service at 4.52. Of the three, carriers were most likely to offer rewards for accident-free mileage (at 29 per cent), followed by on-time delivery and customer service. Bonuses for minimizing cargo damage ranked fourth in importance to drivers, at 4.39, with learning new skills rounding out the top five at 4.03. However, only 15 and eight per cent of carriers offered the rewards for the respective categories.

In terms of training, truckers continue to be most interested in being trained in business skills. While 64 per cent of survey respondents wanted it, only seven per cent received such training from their fleets, up from the 60 per cent who wanted such training in 1999. Following that, the top areas of interest were safety regulations, at 52 per cent, defensive driving at 48 and maintenance at 46. Carriers were most likely to offer formal training in safety regulations (28 per cent), company policies (25 per cent) and paperwork (25 per cent). But rounding out the top five areas of training interest among drivers was managing family issues. Forty per cent of truckers wanted some help here, but they found it from only seven per cent of carriers.

Truckers felt their carriers were most interested in meeting with them regularly (scoring a whopping 4.74 out of five). Ironically, 43 per cent of those surveyed met with supervisors less than once every three months, while only 20 per cent met with them more than once a week. Seven per cent met once a week, 12 per cent more than once a month, and nine per cent once a month.

The second-highest area of concern to carriers was thought to be paying employees on time (they scored an average 4.14 for that), but they were seen as less likely to seek the say of drivers on equipment purchases – a ranking that scored a 1.95 out of five. Rounding out the top five issues with which truckers felt their carriers were most concerned were ensuring that equipment was safe (3.92), that there was enough time to complete trips (3.41), and getting them home when promised (3.24).

However, supervisors didn’t rank that well on their day-to-day dealings with drivers. While they scored an average 3.27 on treating truckers with respect, they only collected a 2.76 for being fair, 2.74 for offering credit, 2.68 for following up on concerns and a paltry 2.21 on asking driver opinions.

Surveyed truckers said they were most likely to switch carriers for more money, better benefits and better schedules, which were selected by 89, 44 and 37 per cent of truckers, respectively. (The survey allowed respondents to select the top three.)

Those who responded to the survey were most interested in having a say in safety improvements, scoring that with a 4.34, although only 34 per cent felt that they had it. That was followed by maintenance decisions, scoring a 4.14, although only 27 per cent felt they had a say here. That was followed by a 3.98 for benefit packages, 3.95 for customer service, 3.91 on dispatch procedures, 3.73 on cost cutting and 3.56 on equipment spec’ing. Carriers, however, came up short in offering a say in all of those categories, at 21, 25, 23, 18 and 16 per cent, respectively. n


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