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How To Incentivize Your Truck Drivers In A Way That Works

When it comes to ensuring your truck drivers aren’t just operating their vehicles safely, but are also happy and motivated on the job, incentives have the power to do both. Yet, the problem is that too few fleets focus on individual performance and organizational effectiveness. They are so intent on the bottom line and getting the load there on time (which is important) they neglect to pay closer attention to how fleet morale is doing.

Many studies have proven that highly engaged employees not only feel more appreciated within the company, but they do a better job, increase their productivity, are more loyal to the company, and in the case of a trucking company, have far less accidents.

But do you know how to leverage truck driver incentives to improve across-the-board incentives? There are many objectives and methods a smart fleet manager or trucking company can utilize to get the most out of their employees, whether it be shop technician or truck driver.

Consider incentives from the following perspectives.

The Best Ways to Motivate

When you create fleet incentives, ensure they are authentic, objective, and transparent. You can only boost the commitment, engagement, and accountability of your fleet culture by not hiding important aspects of your incentive program from your fleet. If those being ranked by an incentive system aren’t sure how the ranking works, or how certain individuals are selected, they may not believe in the inherent fairness of the system.

Top performing companies utilize several methods to motivating their employees. They don’t stop at just one program and try to squeeze every employee into fitting within that program. Your back-office employees may respond differently to your truck drivers in just the same way your shop technicians may respond differently from your dispatchers.

We mentioned authenticity earlier for good reason. Being able to communicate your fleet’s goals and values that makes your truck drivers and employees feel like an actively engaged part of the solution will directly impact how they perform, and thus your fleets bottom line and goals. Connect fleet rewards with goals to realize change and continually improve.

When it seems as if your employees are “getting it,” tell them so! Tell them how their job competence is critical to the proper functioning of the entire fleet. Connect rewards with that competence. When you tell them how much you appreciate what they do, they will want to do it more.

There is no simpler way to connect and motivate an employee than by sitting down and talking to them to tell them what a great job they are doing or have done. Far too few leaders engage in the simple act of telling their people something as simple as, “Good job!” Are you one of those fleets?

We also mentioned objectivity because it is important that those you are recognizing for a good job understand that objective metrics are playing a role in who gets recognized, rather than who is who’s friend or family member. There is nothing worse for morale than an employee thinking they are getting passed over for recognition for an unfair reason.

Ideas for Motivating your Truck Drivers

There are many ways in which you can motivate your truck drivers that are directly related to their job. One example would be a recognition coin that is connected to tire tread depth. When a recognition coin fits into the tread depth – based on factors within the truck driver’s control – that coin then becomes a symbol of the great job said truck driver has done.

Some items of recognition can even be tied into safety or other measures. If a truck driver does a great job, why not reward him or her with a jacket that has reflective stripes on it so that they can be better seen at night if they need to get out and check something on their vehicle’s exterior. In this way, not only are they recognized for a job well done, but their overall safety profile is improved.

Objectively-based recognition measures could include recognizing employees for a specific number of injury- or accident-free days or a high level of coaching effectiveness scores. How many safe miles have they driven or how many miles since an accident? Rewarding a truck driver for excellent improvement is not a bad thing, especially if the truck driver has a bad track record. You want them to get better and there is nothing wrong with incentivizing them to do so through an effective recognition program.

Have you considered recognition as a team sport, where certain groupings of truck drivers who go on certain runs are rewarded for on-time deliveries, least complaints, and improved teamwork. Whichever you go with, just make sure it enhances and rewards cooperation and team spirit, rather than pitting truck drivers against one another in a way that tears them down.

How Transparency and Culture Play into Company Incentive

When it comes to incentive programs transparency, objectivity, and fairness are all interlocked. Do your truck drivers or other employees fully understand what they need to do to earn the reward? Furthermore, are you allowing them to see the leaderboard? Can they effectively view how they are doing when compared to others within their division?

Letting all the players see the progress reinforces good behaviors by creating a positive feedback and friendly competition feedback loop. Using milestones and incremental steps to reward people encourages continuous improvement in a way that one large lump incentive may not. You want to be able to acknowledge good behavior mid-stream.

Does your company utilize an employee portal? Allowing your people to log into the company portal to view how well they are doing can go a long way to motivating them to do even better. Even if the results aren’t made public, they should at least be made available to the people directly involved with the program.

By practicing these incentive methods on a consistent basis, across-the-board, you ensure your company culture stays intact. Safety culture within a company, when tied to effective incentives, can see a big boost over time, along with individual employee morale. Do you know anyone who doesn’t like to be rewarded or appreciated for their efforts?

Technology, Statistics, and Employee Engagement

We live in the age of technology. It is transforming nearly every way the trucking industry gets business done, and it could also have a positive impact on how you incentivize your people. Are you using technology to provide specific data sets that help your leaders objectively track goals and recognize employees once those goals are met?

Technology generates data, which in turn generates statistics. You can use these statistics to both track and recognize employees for a job well done. When these methods are used, a new set of statistics is created: engaged employees and improved performance.

Here are some numbers to consider. When employees are engaged, fleets see:

  • 48% fewer accidents;
  • 25% lower turnover;
  • 28% lower missing inventory;
  • 37% lower absenteeism;
  • 41% fewer vehicle defects;
  • 10% higher customer loyalty;
  • 21% higher productivity, and;
  • 22% higher profitability.

Employee incentive programs matter. Not only do they make your employees feel more motivated, they help create safer fleets. They both increase profitability and decrease overall fleet liability. Yet, that doesn’t mean incentive programs aren’t without challenges you should consider.

Overcoming Incentive Challenges

If you aren’t creating effective incentive programs, you could run into many unforeseen challenges. If you are seeing any of the following, it may be time to rethink your employee motivation or incentive programs:

  • Employees who appear to be indifferent or show little care to the reward being offered.
  • Little to no resources devoted to funding the incentives.
  • Incentive programs resulting in unintended or unwanted outcomes.
  • Employees reporting feeling manipulated by the program.
  • Employees are finding ways to game the system or create winners where there should be none.
  • The improvements or morale gains incurred from the program don’t last very long.

If there is one thing worse than not having an incentive program in place, it is having one in place that doesn’t yield any real benefits or results. If you are running an incentive program that is moving the dial backwards, it is time to consider scrapping it or coming up with a new method.

In the end, there are many ways you can create a better environment for employee morale that don’t cost a lot of money or resources. Whether it be a simple letter from the CEO saying thank you or a breakfast party for those who must come in early in the morning or work overnight, each of these are positive steps you can take that yield big results.

Don’t discount the power of employee morale and motivation. From your front-line truck drivers to your managers and fleet technicians, you want to make sure everyone from the top down in your organization feels good about the job they are doing. Do you feel good about the job you are doing generating better company morale? If not, it’s time to take a second look at your programs.

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