Fleets share ways to motivate drivers through recognition programs and practices: Part 2


Fleets share ways to motivate drivers through recognition programs and practices: Part 2

Source: FleetAnswers Fleets that are using telematics and GPS to track and monitor driver behavior are reaping the benefits in the form of reduced fuel usage, idling, accident claims, and also lower maintenance costs. These fleets have one thing in common – the ability to convince and win their drivers over to the use of telematics and GPS.

In part 1 of our fleet driver recognition programs, we covered the carrot and stick approach to motivating fleet drivers to practice safe driving habits as well as creating driver incentive programs. Part 2 of this series covers (1) ways to convince fleet drivers of the benefits of telematics and GPS, and (2) real-world monetary incentive and recognition programs tried and tested by fleet managers.

Getting Drivers to ‘Buy In’ to Telematics and GPS

It is important to communicate to drivers that Telematics is not a surveillance tool to deter or punish.

“Telematics should be sold not as a tool to beat up the driver, but a necessary product for logistics, insurance, safety, challenge accident liability, unfair use and theft.” explained Simon Watson, Business Manager at Ashwoods Lightfoot, a company that sells driver behavior devices.

As discovered by Joseph Dabby, VP of Engineering and Operations at Road King Technologies, one of the quickest and best ways to gain drivers’ trust is to clearly explain how Telematics is going to help the driver, and not just the company.

Initially, drivers treated Dabby and his team with hostility when the telematics systems were first installed. Today, things are completely different. Dabby helped the fleet drivers see that an increased efficiency in dispatching and scheduling, a benefit from using Telematics, not only improved the company’s bottom line but also provided job security for the drivers. 

“We explained to them that if the company is making more money, then the chances are they will have a more secure job,” said Dabby.

Dabby added that for companies that pay by the number of deliveries, more efficient scheduling and dispatching would also mean higher income for their drivers because they will be able to make more deliveries in a day compared to when the company was not using Telematics.

Other strategies to prevent or reduce resistance from drivers include basic training to explain the uses of Telematics and how it impacts driver performance, keep channels of communication open for drivers to provide feedback, be patient with drivers as they learn the technology, or introduce the technology gradually so that drivers will not be overwhelmed.

Even though fleet managers know the importance of getting drivers to ‘buy into’ the use of Telematics, convincing them is not always enough. Fleet managers therefore use diverse methods to motivate drivers to perform at their fullest potential.  

Cash Rewards and Bonuses

Watson advocates reinvesting the savings made from Telematics into driver schemes. Passing on savings to drivers when their driving behavior results in a cost saving for the company (i.e. lower idling, and fuel costs) sends a clear signal to them that the company values them and acknowledges their efforts.

Some companies reward in the form of cash incentives and bonuses.

“For starters, you need to respect the drivers as professionals. Start by rewarding them for things like clean DOT inspections. Say $100.00 for a level 1 inspection, $75.00 for a level 2, and $50.00 for a level 3,” said John Bowlby, Director of Safety at Carbon Express.

Carbon Express is not alone in rewarding drivers for a job well done.

Dave Decker, Safety Coordinator at Stone Trucking follows a similar approach. “We give a bonus for all clean inspections that the driver receives. Another thing that we do is a quarterly bonus. If a driver follows company policy, no accidents or incidents, and does not turn down loads, he receives a percentage of what he made (as bonus) for that quarter,” Decker added.

Using this approach, drivers are incentivized to find out their mistakes and correct them.

While Decker does not know how the bonus is calculated for each driver, he does know that if a driver does not receive his bonus that quarter, he will be in the office trying to find out what he did that cost him that bonus.

Simple incentives such as awarding gift cards for exemplar behavior are also an effective way to motivate drivers.

“You can set this structure up on a monthly or quarterly basis and have it compounded on itself to increase the incentive per reporting period,” explained Chris Haas, Fleet Operations Manager at Airgas.

For companies that are more ambitious, “you can develop a simple incentive like this into a single metric that ties into a larger quarterly, semi-annual or annual bonus structure. This bonus structure can be built on multiple metrics and measurable goals such as zero preventable accidents or 97% on-time delivery,” Haas suggested.

Reward Certificate Programs: Get Families Involved

Other fleet managers have found success not with cash incentives (i.e. bonuses or gift cards) but with reward certificate programs. John Chemello, Area Safety Manager at Republic Services, uses a program that allows teams to build points for consistent safe driving behavior. The drivers are then able to redeem the points from a catalog of items. “This has prompted many family members to be involved,” which in turn motivated the drivers to continue their safe driving behavior, said Chemello.

Burly Gilbert, Fleet manager at Hostess Brands, found the reward program more effective than cash incentives because families get to benefit from the drivers’ good driving behavior. Going a step further to get families interested in the program, Hostess Brands had rewards for both drivers and their families in their catalog. To ensure that the drivers are constantly reminded of safe driving habits, the catalog that Hostess Brands uses has items with the company safety logo on them.

“The purpose of the logo is to remind the drivers of safety every time they look at the rewards,” explained Gilbert.

Sustaining Good Driving Behavior

Part three of this article will cover driver recognition practices and incentives to sustain good driving behavior.

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