A driver-centric culture involves acknowledging that the heart of any transportation company lies in its drivers.  -  Photo: Work Truck

A driver-centric culture involves acknowledging that the heart of any transportation company lies in its drivers.

Photo: Work Truck

More than ever, drivers' needs, well-being, and satisfaction are moving to the forefront of fleet manager priorities.

Fleet managers tasked with overseeing the intricate web of logistics increasingly recognize drivers' pivotal role in the overall operation.

Mark Murrell, president of CarriersEdge, sheds light on the significance of fostering a culture that revolves around the needs and well-being of drivers.

What Is a Driver-Centric Culture?

A driver-centric culture goes beyond mere lip service. It involves acknowledging that the heart of any transportation company, irrespective of its equipment or industry segment, lies in its drivers.

"Without drivers, there’s no revenue to pay office staff or support other operations," emphasized Murrell.

In a truly driver-centric company, every decision is framed by enhancing drivers' efficiency and improving their workplace experience.

Creating such a culture, however, is not without challenges.

Fleet managers often grapple with the tendency to view drivers as external service providers rather than integral parts of the business.

The pressure from customers to expedite deliveries and the demand from upper management to maximize revenue can sometimes overshadow the importance of prioritizing the driver's experience, leading to potential retention issues.

Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach.

Implementing guaranteed pay programs is an example of a significant operational initiative.

Ensuring that drivers are compensated for all their time, whether in motion or not, forces companies to confront and rectify operational inefficiencies, thereby contributing to improved driver well-being.

Focusing on Mental Health & Wellness

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In addition to operational initiatives, there is a growing trend in the industry to focus on softer support, including:

  • Mental health assistance.
  • Counseling options.
  • Emotional intelligence training for managers.

These measures provide essential support for drivers on the road, acknowledging that their well-being extends beyond purely operational concerns.

“We’ve seen a growing number of companies in the past three years start providing mental health support. All these things help the fleet get a better sense of what’s happening for drivers on the road and help drivers get the support they need to improve things that aren’t purely operational,” Murrell added.

Using Technology to Improve Driver Communication

Technology also plays a pivotal role in fostering a driver-centric culture.

It enables regular communication within the organization, tracks and measures driver performance, and identifies areas where additional coaching may be needed.

However, it’s important to now over rely on technology.

While it can enhance efficiency, a balance with human interaction is crucial for maintaining driver support. Technology should complement personal interactions rather than replace them.

“It’s not enough to just implement technology and rely on it to solve the problems; fleets need to balance that with human interaction. Technology supporting personal interactions works great, but it’s bound to fail without it,” Murrell advised.

Prioritize Work-Life Balance to Improve Retention

One key aspect of a driver-centric culture is prioritizing and accommodating drivers' work-life balance.

Murrell advised fleet managers to communicate the job and work conditions to potential hires to ensure compatibility.

Once fleets find drivers aligned with their requirements, maintaining a healthy work-life balance becomes more achievable.

“Every fleet operates differently, with different routes, schedules, peak times, etc., so fleets need to be clear about what they need from drivers and hire drivers interested in those conditions,” he said.

Fostering a driver-centric culture is a feel-good concept and a strategic imperative for the work truck industry.

Fleet managers must recognize drivers' pivotal roles, address their challenges, and leverage technology judiciously to create an environment that attracts and retains skilled drivers.

As Murrell said, "In a truly driver-centric company, the road to success starts with the driver."

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About the author
Hillary Weiss

Hillary Weiss

Senior Editor

Hillary Weiss is a former senior editor at Bobit. She has a decade of digital publishing experience and a passion for all things related to fleets.

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