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Trucker satisfaction hits five year low

DON MILLS, Ont. - A record number of Canadian truckers are less than satisfied with their jobs, which also marks the third consecutive year this number has decreased.Overall workplace satisfaction was...


NO SURPRISE: Is it any wonder drivers are upset considering diesel prices?
NO SURPRISE: Is it any wonder drivers are upset considering diesel prices?

DON MILLS, Ont. – A record number of Canadian truckers are less than satisfied with their jobs, which also marks the third consecutive year this number has decreased.

Overall workplace satisfaction was down to 44 per cent and while that doesn’t seem like a steep drop from last year’s mark of 46 per cent, consider that in 1999 about 52 per cent of truckers were at least satisfied. In 1998, the view from behind the windshield actually satisfied 58 per cent of respondents.

The fifth annual 2001 Truck News/Motortruck Rate your Carrier Survey even beat the inaugural year which saw satisfaction levels hovering just above 45 per cent.

Amid swirling fears of recession, sky-high fuel prices and seemingly shrinking freight volumes; it is little wonder truckers are unhappy. Many O/Os and lease/operators are being asked to turn in their keys as profit margins and savings accounts continue to evaporate like so much spilled diesel.

With satisfaction so low, driver turnover will continue to be an issue for most fleets. This year nearly all say they would jump to a new job based on financial reasons.

In fact, 91 per cent of all respondents chose “better money” as one of the three primary reasons switching fleets may become a reality for them. Number two on that list was “better benefits” at about 45 per cent.

A little surprising was the fact that “reputation of firm” managed to edge out another financially based answer, “better rewards programs,” for third place.

When asked to evaluate their fleet’s performance in several areas, truckers indicated that their employers were doing a terrible job at showing concern; “Seeking the drivers’ advice on equipment purchases” bottomed out the list at only 2.22 on a scale of one (being not concerned) to five (being very concerned).

The second worst score in this area went to “training in new technology,” which fell to the unconcerned side of centre. “Rewarding strong performance” scored very poorly, as well.

While most truckers thought their carrier was legitimately concerned with paying them on time, they also indicated that companies seem indifferent to providing competitive wages.

On the plus side, carriers did score top marks in “providing safe equipment” and ensuring truckers are offered “proper rest in between hauls.”

Truckers were extremely interested in receiving rewards from their company based on accident-free mileage (4.5), minimizing cargo damage (4.44) and for learning new skills (4.2).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, those who turn the wheels for a living showed little interest in being rewarded for business suggestions.

Of the training programs truckers hope to be presented with by their employer, 45 per cent asked for business skills.

Driving skills, defensive driving and safety regulations formed the logjam that was a virtual tie for second place, with each sought by about 40 per cent of commercial drivers.

Once again, supervisors scored poorly in the survey in regards to their day-to-day dealings with professional drivers, however, the results did indicate a slight improvement over last year.

The bosses still seem quite unwilling to ask for the drivers’ opinions scoring only a 2.73, which was their weakest area. All other categories ranged from 3.04 to 3.35, all of which are at least on the positive side of neutral.

The actual order, from worst to best, was “giving credit for a job well done,” “following up on concerns,” “being fair,” and “treating with respect.”

Perhaps these continually low rates can be tied to the fact that 63 per cent of the truckers surveyed only meet with their supervisor once a month or less. n


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