Drivers are what make or break the effectiveness of your fleet. They perform most of the day-to-day tasks that keep transportation running. However, to complete those tasks to the best of their abilities the right technology can make a significant difference, and management must learn how to improve fleet driver experiences by providing the right tools and software to make their jobs easier.
Why is Improving the Fleet Driver Experience Important?
A positive fleet driving experience means ensuring driver safety and simplifying their daily tasks. Management can demonstrate that it values driver happiness and well-being by adopting tools and creating workflows that make their jobs easier. Furthermore, drivers who feel valued and supported are more likely to stay with their current company, minimizing employee turnover.
How to Improve the Fleet Driver Experience
Companies should consider the following four strategies for improving the fleet driver experience:
1. Promote Transparency About Driver Evaluation Methods
One of the biggest causes of driver dissatisfaction comes from the drivers not understanding how they are being evaluated. Disclosing that information ahead of time helps drivers understand the justification behind feedback and can also work to improve driver performance in the long run.
Implementing transparency can happen in several ways:
- Inclusion of evaluation methods and rules in the feedback itself.
- Make links to evaluation methods and standards universally available to drivers 24/7.
- Review evaluation standards with drivers during 1:1 coaching sessions.
2. Provide the Appropriate Feedback for Drivers
Ensuring that management provides the right kind of feedback is a critical part of improving the driver experience and, in the larger picture, streamlining fleet performance. Depending on the kind of behavior, management may want to take a varying approach to ensure a more positive experience:
- Automated Feedback: Although conventional wisdom may imply that live personal feedback generates a more positive response, studies show that the opposite is, in fact, true. Unless it pertains to notably poor performance, management should stick to providing driver feedback through automated notifications. This has the added benefit of freeing up management time to deal with more pressing issues.
- Focus on Rewards: Bonuses and raises are often overlooked tools, but focusing on rewarding excellent driver performance has several long-term benefits that improve fleet performance. You may be surprised at how nominal the reward needs to be in order to achieve results. Recognition by itself actually goes a long way. In addition to incentivizing rewarded drivers to continue performing well, drivers with poor performance are motivated to work on improving theirs. Studies have shown that this methodology improves performance across the board, acting as a better motivator than punishment.
3. Promote a Workplace Safety Culture
Drivers want and deserve to know that their employer has their safety at heart. Management needs to make it clear, at every stage of company operations, that driver safety is paramount to the company's success. Equating the two provides employees with a clear set of objectives to work towards and a sense of unity.
A central part of promoting a workplace safety culture is providing drivers with the tools they need to understand and implement safety tools. For example:
- Training: Upon training all new employees (not just drivers), HR must emphasize the importance of all relevant safety protocols to ensure driver safety. Coaching non-drivers on these measures ensures that drivers enter into a work environment where their safety is a high priority for everyone involved.
- Coaching: Any instances of 1:1 coaching should also discuss any relevant safety protocols pertaining to the meeting itself. This keeps management and employees updated on safety procedures and allows management to introduce new measures as they become relevant.
- Vehicle Maintenance: Central to ensuring driver safety is ensuring that vehicles are properly maintained. Automated alerts should be kept for drivers and management to ensure regular inspections at predetermined intervals to provide necessary vehicle upkeep.
4. Set Up Train to Ensure Success
Fleet management technology is only as valuable as the driver's ability to use it. As such, drivers must be comfortable with these tools to achieve successful adoption.
When implementing new technology, management should consider:
- Design a multi-phase training program: Introducing a new technology in phases can benefit drivers by flattening the learning curve. Management might consider a small group to serve as beta testers.
- Create a Digital Learning Center. Drivers will likely face post-training challenges when working with these solutions in real-time. Management should supplement training with online documentation and other self-serve resources to address driver inquiries.
- Highlighting a framework for support: That said, and even with training programs and self-serve resources, drivers might still have questions. It is wise to anticipate these questions and develop a framework to address them.
Your Drivers Are Your Most Valuable Asset
One of the most crucial things to remember is that your employees are first and foremost people and drivers second. They are more likely to stay motivated and do the best job if management provides them the proper tools to do their duties well.
Always keep these key considerations in mind when thinking about your drivers:
- Be transparent about how drivers are evaluated and provide feedback: Drivers sometimes accept automated feedback better than a talk with the boss. Keep the talks to the drivers with bad patterns and severe behavior. Most drivers actually do want to improve.
- Reward good drivers: rewarding good behavior has been found to be a better motivator than punishing bad drivers.
- Promote a safety culture: Make it very clear top-down that driver safety is important. Be careful not to encourage unsafe behavior so it is not perceived as lip service.
- Give drivers the tools they need to do their jobs: training, coaching, clear objectives, and clean and well-maintained vehicles. If you don't care – they won't care.