Promoting Driver Satisfaction
Last month’s column
offered some suggestions for attracting, hiring, training and retaining the
right drivers. The focus now is driver satisfaction. When drivers are kept
satisfied, fleets benefit.
Research shows that drivers with higher job
satisfaction are more committed to their companies, have higher retention
rates, enjoy their work, care about the quality of their work and are safer
and more productive. What does it take to
achieve high driver satisfaction?
satisfaction starts with a caring management that understands just how
difficult — and thankless — a truck driver’s job is.
Truck drivers, like any other employee, want to feel that management cares
about them, appreciates the work they do and is concerned about them as
If you are not already doing so, go out of your way to
visit with your drivers on a regular basis. Truly listen to their concerns.
If you are constantly out of sight — say at your desk all day —
drivers may feel ignored and even demoralized.
Always treat drivers respectfully and courteously,
especially when there is a problem. If you have an issue with a driver,
keep your anger in check. Never humiliate anyone in public. Speak with them
Do not criticize the individual, but rather,
concentrate on their behavior. Most of us can deal with, and learn from, a
thought-out critique. No one likes being criticized.
Culture. High driver
satisfaction requires an organizational culture that is open, trusting and
fun, and permits mistakes. Drivers should be made to feel that they have
adequate freedom and authority to do their jobs and that making mistakes is
a part of the improvement process.
If drivers are made to feel that mistakes are
something to feel bad about or be ashamed for, they will no longer take the
initiative to overcome the daily challenges and problems they face.
Communication. High driver
retention companies place a priority on communicating with their drivers.
This encompasses keeping them informed promptly, openly and clearly on a
regular basis. Encourage communication and allow drivers easy access to you
and other management.
Invite input from drivers. Be sure to address any
issues, and then let drivers know how these matters were handled. This can
be done by a note with paychecks, postings in the driver’s room,
during drivers meeting, etc.
It is a good idea to communicate with your
drivers’ families. Let them know when their spouse or significant
other does something significant or exemplary. Tell the driver’s
family how valuable he/she is to your company.
Make sure the family understands the advantages and
benefits of working for your company. If the driver’s family thinks
your company is good and appreciates their spouse or significant other,
driver and family satisfaction is increased.
recognition and honest appreciation of a driver’s special efforts,
commitment or attempts at accomplishment has a number of benefits. One is
building loyalty and energizing other drivers. Another is enabling you to
highlight desired actions and behaviors, holding up as role models those
drivers who best epitomize them. This helps raise overall driver
Notice good work or extra efforts and be sure to
acknowledge them. Praise and recognition is best bestowed promptly (as soon
as observed or learned about), both in public and in private. A
hand-written note goes a way long to motivating more
Compliments are best served early in the day. This
puts your drivers in a more positive frame of mind as they face their day.
Celebrate successes and milestones reached by your
department, your company and your drivers.
Make sure rewards, which can include a variety of
benefits and perks other than money, are for genuine contributions. Be
consistent in your recognition/reward policies.
best drivers desire, along with fair compensation and benefits,
opportunities. Create opportunities for them to learn and grow.
Help your drivers develop their skills. Enhance their
ability to contribute to your company, while at the same time allowing them
to flourish personally and professionally.
Embrace these ideas and you will better satisfy your
drivers. It is not only a nice thing to do, but it makes good business
Money is not at the top of the list for satisfying drivers. In a study by
an international outplacement company, money ranked fourth. Appreciation
was first, followed by independence and a chance to contribute.
Meanwhile, a Gallup survey on the impact of employee
attitudes on business outcomes found that in organizations where there is
high employee satisfaction, these companies
38% higher customer satisfaction scores.
22% higher productivity.
27% higher profits.
Equipment news roundup
DuraSeal tire technology features a “built-in sealant” that
allows truck drivers to continue operating after a tire is punctured. The
technology, which uses a gel-like solvent-free compound built into the
inner liner of the tire, is designed to consistently and instantly seal
punctures in the tread area.
4x2 RXT is a more than 5-ton, 22-foot-long commercial pickup truck. Eight
feet tall, it features an 8-foot-long bed, commercial hydraulic brakes,
crew cab that seats five, air cab suspension, International ride-optimized
suspension, and International VT 365 diesel V8 engine with 230 horsepower
and 540 pounds per foot of torque.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2004 Medium Duty Truck Customer
Satisfaction Study ranked Peterbilt the
highest in overall vehicle satisfaction in the conventional medium-duty
segment. Hino ranked highest among cabover medium-duty trucks. Six factors
make up the overall vehicle satisfaction score. In order of importance they
are: vehicle quality; engine; transmission; ride, handling and braking; cab
interior; exterior design; and styling.
Kenworth now offers
the Allison 3000 Highway Series vocational automatic transmission for its
T300 medium-duty model. Designed for line haul and local pickup and
delivery applications, the transmission is available in both five- and
six-speeds and has a gross torque of 1,100 pounds per foot for 80,000-pound
gross vehicle or gross combination weights.