Driver Satisfaction -
How happy is your driving force?
Is this a question regularly asked in your business? Or a question asked at all?
My professional opinion is this question needs to be front of mind, for all positions, but for this article, specifically for professional drivers.
For starters, if you have not asked your driving force this question recently - I encourage you to do so right away.
Now you may be thinking, "Josh - where do I ask this question?" My advice? Ask this question in private, but not in your office space. Meet with your professional drivers where they are comfortable - at their trucks - and ask the question "are they happy working for you?"
While this question may catch some off guard, I can assure you that you will receive more honest feedback from your professional drivers if asked with honest curiosity, and furthermore - you attentively listen to their responses.
For those that communicate that yes they are in fact happy working for you, I encourage you to ask a follow-up question after providing gratitude for their honest feedback. Ask something along the lines of "what could still be improved?"
Again, I encourage you to attentively listen to their responses as the advice shared is crucial for the success of your operation if you rely on professional drivers each day.
What about those that communicate directly, or indirectly, that no - they are not in fact happy. Do you raise your hands up and yell "what could you possibly not be happy with?!" or do you leave your ego at the door per se and genuinely inquire as to why?
Why would someone not be happy working at your organization?
A couple of examples that I have experienced myself, or I have witnessed includes:
1) How professional drivers are spoken to
2) How professional drivers are listened to, if at all
3) How seriously does the carrier take vehicle maintenance
4) What is more important, your driving force or the customer
5) Do you respect a driver's request when they say "I need to be off at such and such a time for this or for that"?
These are some low-hanging fruit inquiries that will simply put, piss of professional drivers if they do not feel heard, understood, or respected at their place of work.
2022 will be another year where our supply chain is truly tested as we navigate through the pandemic, natural disasters, amongst other challenges. Carriers and various operations that employ or contract professional drivers need to focus a great amount of energy on doing everything they can to ensure their professional drivers are happy.
Why? You ask.
Well, for starters - with the growing demand for products to be moved and the constant decrease of professional drivers available, our industry will experience a lopsided scale shortly that will put more and more strain on those operating commercial vehicles.
As things progress, which they will, professional drivers will have more and more options to obtain a classic "class 1 position", and not feel "stuck" to one carry - especially if they are miserable.
Now, by no means am I writing this to come across as negative or even threatening - I am just stating the reality we are in, and will continue to face. But I truly do believe that organizations need to focus on putting forth the effort to ensure the best they can their professional drivers are satisfied.
So, what can organizations do?
For starters, ask your professional drivers! As I mentioned above, meet your drivers in a space they are comfortable in, and ask them straight up are they happy and how can we improve?
The answers you long for are there, waiting to be sought out.
While you are working on asking your professional drivers this very important question, there are a couple of other items that can be done:
1) Speak with your operations staff, and provide encouragement on speaking to professional drivers just as they would like to be spoken to.
2) Inspect the condition of the bathroom and common areas professional drivers visit - are they up to par? If not, make it happen!
3) Acknowledge professional drivers by name, or nickname - show them that they are part of the team
4) Say thank you - honestly, one of the most encouraging things my dispatch could say when they sent me to a location I did not want to go to on a Friday afternoon was showing gratitude knowing I was annoyed at the task at hand.
As we continue to navigate through shortages of professional drivers, you need to put their happiness as one of your top priorities - this will make a huge difference.
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