Even with the advent of new technology across almost every aspect of transportation, shipping and distribution, the lifeblood of the American economy still pumps via big rigs and truck drivers. Almost 70% of the freight tonnage that's shipped from sea to shining sea each year is done so on the backs of trucks. It's a reality that will likely hold true for the foreseeable future.
That being said, there is a current shortage truck drivers across America. According to the American Trucking Association, the 35,000 drivers needed today will balloon to 200,000 drivers over the next decade. As fleet owners in need to attracting and keeping the best talent, it's in your best interest to let your drivers know you appreciate the work they do for you.
Turnover is high, and competition is fierce. For smaller fleets, especially, it can be hard to compete with the large signing bonuses and higher salaries offered by the bigger carriers. All hope, however, is not lost. If you want your drivers to know you appreciate them, here are six little things you can do.
- Gift Cards to Better Food
Truck drivers struggle more than most people to eat healthy when they're at work, and it's no wonder. The highways and byways of America are littered with little more than fast food and gas station fare. Giving your drivers gift cards to places like Subway or Panera Bread can give them a reason to choose a healthier alternative, as can gift cards to grocery store chains that are common along their routes.
- Crazy Contests
Everybody wants to have a good time at work, and truckers are no exception. Offer incentivized and ongoing bouts of friendly competition between your drivers to help relieve the monotony that sometimes accompanies the open road.
Try running weekly contests for everything from longest haul to most on-time deliveries. Have an online storytelling contest about the strangest thing that ever happened to them while driving. Be sure to offer prizes that are desirable, too. From paid days off to iPads and cash, make them feel like Christmas is just around the next turn.
- Truck Wash Coupons
Make it easy for your drivers to keep their rigs looking and feeling great whether they're home for a well-deserved rest or out on the road. If they're regularly given truck wash coupons, taking the time and putting in the effort will become second nature, and they'll love that you're footing the bill.
While you may not feel like you can afford to offer your drivers full benefits, look into what you can offer, and do it. Even if it's just a small stipend that's earmarked to go toward their own purchase of health and dental insurance, it's a small incentive will keep your people healthier and make them feel valued at the same time.
Do you have drivers who have been with you for more than one year? More than five years? More than 10? Start a loyalty program that rewards those who stay with you over time. From pay raises to vacation getaways, show your appreciation to the ones who stick with you.
- The Monthly (or Quarterly) Bash
While truckers technically have co-workers, unless they're part of a driving team, they spend a lot of time alone. Build relationships and show appreciation at the same time by throwing a monthly or quarterly party on the company's dime. Provide delicious food, top-quality drinks and unforgettable entertainment.
With these six little ways to show appreciation for your drivers, you can keep a hold of your fleet whether you're a small carrier or a large one.