It isn’t far-fetched to think that helping truck drivers improve their physical health and well-being might help stem the employment squeeze and attract more truck drivers to our venerable profession. Fortunately, many fleets are getting with the program.
Perhaps the fact that several large, well-respected long-haul fleets are rolling out health and wellness programs points to something more than just preventing truck driver churn. Could there be something more altruistic at play? Perhaps the trucking industry is beginning to foster a “Culture of Wellness”.
Wellness as the Answer
Many trucking companies have had health initiatives in place for years, but didn’t start getting serious about it until the last decade. It’s not news to anyone that trucking is mostly a sedentary job. Recent studies released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have outlined the health risks associated with sedentary jobs like truckers and office workers.
Another problem fleets were noticing is that not long after the DOT began tightening its physical requirements they began to lose truck drivers who could not re-certify after their physical. Many have moved to set up intervention programs to assist truckers who needed to get their blood pressure or glucose under control.
Since then, fleets have learned that they can help by offering a structured approach to health and wellness education. Some have even gone so far as to hire a credentialed wellness manager. Other programs combine weight loss initiatives with lipid-panel blood testing. Combined, these can help determine cardiovascular risk.
One large mid-western fleet has incorporated a 3,500-square-foot health and fitness area into their sprawling main headquarters. It provides exercise equipment, lockers, and even a women-only area. Outside of the facility they’ve built a landscaped walking and jogging trail with workout stations at assigned areas around the track.
They’ve also built a restaurant within the facility that offers healthy meals that are cooked fresh daily. An on-site medical clinic also offers free services for employees. The clinics are operated by a third-party company and provide medical care to employees and family members at no cost.
With on-site clinics able to help with blood pressure and diabetes issues, it keeps people out of the E.R. Health concierge services can also help employees understand their healthcare coverage, keep overall costs down, and comparison shop for providers.
The Highway to Health
Another major national carrier that employs around 3,000 truck drivers created what they call the “Highway to Health” program. It’s a comprehensive health and wellness program that includes health screenings and seminars, weight-loss and diet programs, and other incentives that promote good health and wellness.
They have also built a full-service medical clinic at their carrier headquarters. It provides prescription services, exercise and nutritional coaching, physical therapy and disease counseling.
Outside the facility they have built a full basketball court. Attached to the building is a full racquetball court and workout room equipped with an assortment of exercise machines and daily exercise classes. They’ve even partnered with off-site companies to offer additional wellness services such as massages and outdoor recreational activities.
Getting Drivers Engaged
Before you achieve success in your wellness programs, you’ve got to make sure your employees are engaged in the program. Getting truckers to participate in the programs and take an active role in improving their health, is crucial to the program’s success.
Some fleets are setting up incentive programs that reward employees who actively participate in the program. Other programs provide health plan discounts when participants reach certain health milestones.
Getting employees and their spouses to identify and understand major health risks helps them make better decisions. Adding incentives certainly doesn’t hurt.
So when it comes to truck driver health and wellness, is your fleet doing all it can for its employees? Because the future of trucking lies in good health and wellness.