Four ways to improve driver orientation

ORLANDO, Fla. – Gina Anderson, CEO and co-founder of Luma Brighter Learning, gave fleets attending the Truckload Carriers Association annual convention a lesson on how to improve driver orientation sessions.

Here are four takeaways from her session, which drew on extensive research and driver feedback conducted by the company.

Break learning sessions into nuggets

An individual’s mind will begin to drift in 8.5 seconds, Anderson said, yet fleets expect drivers to pay attention during a full day or more of orientation. More concerning, people tend to only retain 14% of what they’re told when someone is presenting from the front of a room.

Gina Anderson

Anderson suggested breaking learning sessions into bite-sized nuggets of six to nine minutes in length. She also said to be repetitive. Most people must see something 7.5 times before they commit it to memory.

Pay attention to your PowerPoint

Anderson cringed when she recalled a fleet that gave new hires a 120-slide PowerPoint presentation. Keep presentations short, she urged, and pay attention to color.

Red incites anger, while blue is calming. Red should only be used for emphasis, Anderson said.

This has been seen first-hand. She recalled a company that put together a good presentation on stretching exercises. But the slides were predominantly red. It received a rating of 1.5 stars from drivers. When it was redesigned in a different color, the ratings spiked to 4.3.

The same can be said for paperwork. Anderson recalled sitting in on an orientation where new hires had to fill in two hours of paperwork before getting started. “Do it online. There are tools to help you,” she said.

Individualize it

Not everyone learns the same way, so try to cater teaching methods to the individual’s style. Some learn better with face-to-face instruction, while others prefer video or animations. Be sure to allow students to learn at their own pace.

“If you do have face-to-face time with them, use it wisely,” said Anderson. Also use it quickly. “Don’t keep them in a hotel for three days (before orientation).”

Keep written material at a grade six or seven level and keep in mind, some drivers may struggle with reading, so don’t dump a hefty manual on them and expect them to read it through.

Some people prefer paper-based learning materials, while others do better working off their smartphone or tablet. Be sure to collect driver feedback so you can adjust your methods to suit their needs.

Make it fun

Anderson encouraged fleets to reward drivers. “When you engage the drivers, you’ll have retention,” she said.

She said fleets have had success breaking groups into teams that can choose team names, or into smaller pods rather than a large classroom setting.

A successful orientation program yields tangible results, Anderson concluded, citing increased retention in the first 90 days, doubling participation in monthly training, and cost savings totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

 

James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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