Anyone who follows what we do at The National Transportation Institute knows that celebrating drivers, recognizing them, understanding their perspectives, and implementing programs and policies that lead with empathy and support for professional truck drivers is foundational to our work with motor carriers and private fleets and in the industry at large.
So this week, 2023’s National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, our team assembled a few tips, strategies, and approaches your fleet can use to carry the focus on driver appreciation through the entire year, every year, and to continue to make your opportunities a secure and rewarding career choices for drivers.
If you’re looking for a deeper dive on this topic, NTI’s blog is full of resources your fleet can utilize to put an emphasis on the driver experience and to showcase your appreciation your fleet’s people:
Here are five ways your fleet can make driver appreciation a year-around focus:
Celebrate your drivers every week, every year
One area that NTI consistently coaches fleets on in their recruiting and retention programs is to never stop recruiting — or ABR, Always Be Recruiting. What does that mean? It means don’t stop selling and re-selling your company to drivers once they join your company and once a truck is seated. With all channels available and appropriate for you — email newsletters, blog content, text messages, social media, internal communication platforms, driver apps — connect, engage, and communicate with your people to remind them of their value to you and to promote your company as a place where they can thrive and work their entire career. A critical area of that internal marketing is to celebrate and recognize your drivers and their accomplishments and to let them know you appreciate them. Strive to do that every single day of the year with authenticity and passion.
Mitigate pay pain points and promote all compensation available
One of drivers’ biggest frustrations is unpaid, unproductive time, and it’s a critical issue that pushes people from our industry. Rightly so, as drivers often encounter so many elements outside of their control and that eat away at their paychecks — traffic, weather, detention and dwell times, layovers and delays between loads, deadheads, out of route miles, etc. Find ways to mitigate unpaid, unproductive time across drivers’ schedules from an operations and management standpoint, and ensure you have answers for issues like detention, layover, deadheads, and other issues that lead to unpaid, unproductive work time. Also, promote all forms of compensation available to drivers, which can not only help boost drivers’ paychecks but also promote profitability for your fleet — incentives for fuel efficiency and in-network fuel compliance, safety, productivity, and performance. Also consistently remind drivers to take advantage of retirement programs, health benefits, and more. Use all of the tools in your box to engage with drivers on all issues surrounding pay.
Implement policies that support drivers’ work-life balance concerns
Time away from home is inherent to many truck driving jobs, so find ways to address challenges related to any work-life balance struggles. One example that NTI promotes heavily to all fleets is paid family leave for when drivers welcome a new baby or adopt a child. Offer fully paid, robust maternity and paternity leave for new parents, and robust family leave options for bereavement or other times when drivers need flexibility to be present with their families. Also, from a compensation perspective, consider implementing transition pay for new drivers joining your company. Transition pay can be something as simple as a one-time, upfront payment or prepaid debit card that helps drivers bridge any gaps in their pay from their last paycheck at their prior job to their first paycheck at your fleet, helping cushion the transition and easing concerns about paying bills between paychecks. It also shows drivers joining your company that you respect and appreciation their decision to join you over other employers.
Make driver health and wellness core in every department
Drivers need your support on their health and wellness journeys, and there’s no better way to show how much you appreciate them than to provide tools, resources, empathy, and coaching they need to help your drivers maintain their DOT medical certification, have the ability to maintain their livelihoods, improve their quality of life, and reduce their healthcare expenses. Health and wellness programs can also be a major win for your fleet’s retention efforts. NTI explored more on driver health topics and strategies your fleet’s can implement in this post earlier this year.
Provide a first-class onboarding experience
First experiences still are critical, and your onboarding and orientation experience sets the standard for how your new employees perceive their value to your company. Consider drivers’ orientation and onboarding from their perspective. Provide quality travel and lodging. Ensure drivers have access to quality and nutritious meal options. Issue equipment that matches what they were told during the recruiting process. Give them a load assignment that matches with what they agreed to during the recruiting process. All of these elements are within your control and show your drivers that you truly care about their experience at your company, that you provide a first-class driver experience, and that you are vested in their time with you. A quality onboarding experience provides huge dividends for long-term retention and for referrals to your fleet —underpinned in your sincere appreciation for them choosing you and your company over so many other options available to them.
Interested in more resources that your fleet can utilize to help bolster your driver engagement, driver recruiting, and driver retention programs? See NTI’s Resources page.