Good communication and online training go hand-in-hand in driver satisfaction

In part one of Heavy Duty Trucking’s 10-part driver series, “Driver Pay: Making the Grade,” David Cullen, executive editor of HDT, explains how low trucking wages are making it difficult for fleets to recruit and retain drivers as well as what fleets are doing to overcome the issue.

While a fleet may offer a certain pay package to get a driver behind the wheel, it’s most likely not enough. In part two of the driver series, “Driver Training: Talk is Not Cheap,” Cullen highlights the importance of communication between employers and drivers and how fleets are changing their driver training.

Often, a positive work environment determines how long we’ll stay with a company. We all want to feel important and receiving positive feedback for our work can go a long way. It’s no different for drivers. While all drivers should feel utilized and key to the company’s success, Cullen points out experienced drivers don’t want to feel like newbies when they join a new fleet. If they’ve put in the miles, they should expect to be treated like any other driver with the same amount of experience. The most experienced drivers are usually the best drivers and are more likely than new inexperienced drivers to stay put.

Employers who maintain constant and consistent communication with drivers, letting them know when they do well and what they can do to improve and respond to their needs, (such as moving heaven and earth to get them home for their parents’ funerals or their childrens’ weddings), often enjoy high driver satisfaction and experience low driver turnover rates.

Unfortunately, communication between employers and their drivers is where most fleets fall short. In the article, Lana Batts, co-president of Driver iQ, says most fleets have recruiting directors, but rarely anyone overseeing retention. Usually retention falls under fleet operations and the supervisors of drivers who leave the fleet are almost never held accountable.

A Good Fleet Example

To overcome the industry-wide disconnect between employers and drivers, Cullen showcased Halvor Lines, a fleet that developed a driver wellness program. It’s helped the fleet achieve low CSA scores and a turnover rate of just 38.5 percent. Not bad for a fleet of running 438 power units.

Not only is Halvor trying to help meet the needs of its drivers, but also taking an innovative approach at driver training, which has also contributed to its low driver turnover rate and CSA scores. The company provides orientation and continuing driver education through online training.  The training program is developed to provide positive reinforcement. Rather than make the program seem like a punishment, its approach is to help drivers on the job through positive feedback.

Training can go beyond getting a safer driver behind the wheel. Cullen explores productivity gains through follow-up coaching and training as well. He features a system that helps drivers become more efficient – to be as fuel-efficient way possible through analyzing fuel consumptions and vehicle monitoring. The program dismisses situations out of a drivers control, such as road conditions and weight of the truck and focuses on what the driver can control. Fleets that incentivize drivers to use the system to save fuel are seeing the best results.

Don’t Shoot in the Dark and Beware the Liability Gap

Cullen also points out that technology’s best results occur when it’s used to deliver consistent content across a company and does it smartly. Fleets should know what they’re shooting at when it comes to the development of training. Managers should be aware that a “liability gap” can exist when fleets gather data – such as when drivers speed, but don’t act on it by tailoring its ongoing training program to get those drivers to slow down. The data, which is discoverable, should be used to develop preventive training and remediation for certain drivers.

Cullen says that fleets find training with monitoring and consistent follow-up pay off in higher driver satisfaction and lower driver turnover. The key is keeping the lines of good communication open between employers and drivers, along with implementing new efficient ways to help drivers become better at their job.

To view the entire series on the HDT website, click here.

 

 

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