As we’ve touched on a few times in the NTI Blog, putting driver health at the center of every fleet department is one of the most critical steps your fleet can take in its driver retention program.
Not only is it the right thing to do for your people and the personal and professional wellbeing of your drivers, but making driver health foundational across fleet departments can help mitigate one of the biggest contributors to driver exits both at the individual fleet level and industrywide.
Hundreds of thousands of drivers annually are forced to leave the industry due to medical reasons, either because of DOT disqualifications, medical leaves of absence, or health issues that force drivers out of the industry involuntarily. Approximately half of all active drivers work on a temporary DOT medical certification, due to underlying health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or sleep apnea.
We’ve covered driver health at depth in the NTI blog over the past year. See those resources here:
NTI recently caught up with Dr. Mark Manera, founder and CEO of Supply Chain Fitness, about a few trends and strategies fleets can deploy in 2023 to engage their drivers on personal health goals, help incentivize and boost accountability, reduce turnover, and create a safer, more productive fleet. Here’s a recap of that conversation:
➡️ Educate your entire company on the importance of drivers’ health
Driver health touches every department within every fleet, and thus should be a focal point for every department in your organization. As NTI’s Leah Shaver wrote last year in the NTI Blog, from the C-suite to operations, safety, compliance, and HR and recruiting — drivers’ health and wellness should be at the center of your organization.
Also, when it comes to engaging drivers on health initiatives, consistency and repetition are key, says Manera. Much like the recruiting process and other marketing campaigns, drivers likely need multiple touchpoints in multiple channels — social media, company emails, conversations with their managers and peers — before they’re motivated to take an action. Providing the right resources and incentives will also help propel drivers to participate in a health and wellness program.
➡️ Find your point people
Manera says it’s valuable and effective for fleets to have a point person internally focused on driver health and holding other departments accountable for doing so, too. Likewise, he said, drivers respond well to their peers. He recommends finding a few driver ambassadors to help build the peer-to-peer inspiration. “That creates a network effect,” Manera said. “If they’re having a conversation with their buddy who says they’re down 10 pounds, that helps push them to make better decisions, too.”
➡️ Make sure plans are driver-focused and relationship-based
Health, fitness, and wellness plans must be tailored to drivers’ lifestyles and, often, an individual driver’s personal health needs and goals, says Manera. Pulling a generic plan from an insurance provider or consumer-focused brand is simply a non-starter. “My line is that it has to smack them in the face that it’s built for them. That’s what’s going to get them to take the leap. Drivers are smart and they can smell BS. They know if a plan isn’t going to work for them.”
➡️ Implement the right incentives for the right reasons
Incentives such as cash bonuses, gift cards, point accumulation systems, and the like can help boost participation and accountability in health and wellness programs, says Manera. However, he says, companies shouldn’t incentivize outcome-based goals, such as weight loss. Rather, incentives habits that contribute to those outcomes.
Manera said studies have shown that a particularly effective incentive program is a deduction system, rather than an accumulation-based system. For example, if a company offers a $1,000 bonus for participation in a health program and hitting weekly steps goals, studies show it’s more effective to show participants their starting $1,000 balance and deduct each time they don’t reach their weekly targets, rather than having the amount accumulate for hitting that target. “The psychology matters,” said Manera. Seeing money deducted from their total helps buy in and longevity of participation, he said.
➡️ Incorporate technology
From wearables to smartphone and tablet apps, there’s a plethora of tools available to fleets to help advance health and wellness goals for drivers and other employees. Manera’s Supply Chain Fitness programs, for example, are based around smartphone and tablet apps. But he encourages fleets to find applications and technology that work for them and their personnel and to take advantage of the resources they provide.