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Viewpoint: Make Driving a Career Move

Roy Craigen, who became well known in trucking circles for his innovative approach to driver management during his days with Economy Carriers, had a message for the folks attending the Private Motor Truck Council's annual conference earlier this s...


Roy Craigen, who became well known in trucking circles for his innovative approach to driver management during his days with Economy Carriers, had a message for the folks attending the Private Motor Truck Council’s annual conference earlier this summer that’s worth heeding by all in carrier management.

Craigen, who has since gone on to found Transcom, a company providing operations and management training (don’t call me a consultant, he insists), wants carrier management to recognize that drivers are just as valuable, if not more valuable, than the equipment they operate.

Well, that’s an apple-pie kind of statement you might say. But stop and think about it for a minute. Think of all the care and scrutiny that goes into spec’ing a rig. It’s an absolutely necessary investment in time and effort, of course, considering the financial outlay and the cost of downtime and repairs. But compare that with the effort you put into recruiting the right person to handle that expensive rig.

Are you making the investment in personality testing to have a better gauge on whether this person is a good fit for the trucking lifestyle and your company culture? Few carriers are. Are you investing the money and effort necessary to provide effective orientation programs? Not enough carriers are. Do you thoroughly check into the driver’s work background and references? Some carriers don’t even bother with that.

Now compare the investment in time for the driver versus the equipment he will drive. The new rig will likely stay with your operation for about five years. The driver could be with you for 30. If you have a maintenance shop that’s up to snuff it will likely set up a maintenance plan to last the life of that truck with your operation. How will you maintain the driver’s lifecycle with your company?

Again you might say, a career path for drivers is a wasted investment considering how likely they are to jump from one carrier to another chasing a fatter paycheque.

Yet studies show truck drivers are not the dissatisfied lot many assume them to be. One study, which I found particularly enlightening, was conducted by the respected Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute of North Dakota University a few years ago. Contrary to popular belief, it found that drivers get more satisfaction from doing their jobs than workers in many other occupations, including the machine trades, bench and structural work, sales, processing, technical and even managerial sectors. But, unlike the situation with many of these other professions, drivers run into a roadblock when it comes to a career path.

Other studies conducted by the Institute on job satisfaction found drivers interested in a variety of job responsibilities in addition to driving, including customer service, driver training, and driver supervision.

In fact, 83 per cent of drivers surveyed indicated that career advancement was important to them and 60 per cent indicated they would be less likely to quit their job if it included a realistic career path.

But perhaps the most telling statistic was this one: Only 64 per cent of the managers surveyed thought their drivers were interested in such personal growth.

Craigen’s plea may seem apple pie but it does ring true.


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