The fact is, when fleets help their truck drivers stay well, through either comprehensive wellness programs or other health-related initiatives, it not only benefits the operator, but it benefits the fleet as well.
A healthy lifestyle yields major dividends and especially important in jobs like truck driving, office work and other profession where the worker spends a large portion of their time sitting in one place.
Easier Said than Done?
Still, creating a nurturing and healthy lifestyle is not easy. For truck drivers specifically, who are always on the go, it can be especially hard. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be aspired to.
From increasing road safety to lowering health insurance and medical costs to providing a better quality of life for truck drivers and their loved ones, there’s a lot to like about paying close attention to employee wellness.
On the fleet side, better truck driver health lowers company operating costs and limits liability exposure. Also, as truckers get healthier and enjoy the benefits of a comprehensive wellness program, satisfaction goes up, turnover drops and recruiting new talent becomes far easier.
Of course, people don’t start trucking companies to get into the medical business. Still, a truck drivers place of employment is the logical first start in reaching out regarding medical or lifestyle issues. Whether it be sleep apnea or other situations that impact the truck drivers job or family life, there’s no harm in reaching out.
When addressing trucker wellness, it should be viewed as a starting point; a place where education occurs. The last thing you want to do is scold drivers over their health decisions. Even better, providing incentives and recognition for reaching certain health milestones goes a long way in motivating your people to reach for better health outcomes.
Sifting Through the Data
There’s a lot of data to sort through regarding health and wellness, whether for truckers or otherwise. With so many unbiased studies to choose from, it can be hard to pinpoint the one specific factor that may be the gamechanger in a wellness program.
One study done by the University of Utah School of Medicine pinpointed two specific indicators of bad health management. One was high blood pressure and the other was fatigue. They then were able to assign a “high association” with these conditions to a truck driver’s overall crash risk.
The research also highlights an unfortunate problem: Fleets are not that great at managing truck driver health. Out of the 797 long-haul truckers surveyed, almost a full fourth of them exhibited signs of high blood pressure and yet were under no current treatment. Nor had the condition been treated before.
To the researchers, this was surprising, considering truck drivers must complete a medical certification every two years. If anything, this research was another sign that the health needs of truck drivers are not being adequately met.
What’s the Solution?
At the very least, wellness programs should educate and inform truck drivers on what their health risks are. Whether it be through an email, a newsletter or some other digital method, fleets must stay engaged with the wellness of their workers.
Some fleets have even gone so far as to install gyms and on-site medical clinics at their home office. While these methods incur added cost in the short-term, the long-term benefits they yield are quite substantial.
Some estimates on the return on investment for employee wellness programs range anywhere between $2.00 and $5.00 per employee. The impact on productivity and employee retention alone is worth the initial investment.
In the end, workplace wellness programs must be voluntary, non-discriminatory and designed to specifically promote certain health outcomes or prevent disease. By focusing on the important factors, and showing your truckers you care about their health, you do only good for the overall health of your organization.