As an industry, truck driving isn’t known for offering the healthiest lifestyle. Between the odd schedule and the long hours spent behind the road, the job takes a toll on truck drivers’ sleep, diet, and exercise. The good news is that recruiters and fleet managers can help turn their drivers into healthy truckers. There are many reasons to encourage healthy lifestyles. New drivers will be more likely to join your fleet once they know that you make health a priority. Your current drivers will be happier, healthier, and more productive. Healthy truckers will be less likely to leave because of chronic illnesses and more likely to drive for your fleet longer. While you can’t require or force healthy behavior from your drivers, there are other ways to encourage and influence it.
1. Inform and educate
The earliest and most important influence you can have is to inform and educate your drivers about how to engage in a healthier lifestyle. You can create an entire awareness campaign around topics like sleep, regular exercise, and proper diet. While drivers may know the importance of these factors on their health, they may not be aware of the specifics. As a fleet manager, your role can be to collect and distill this information into the most important points, and then distribute this knowledge among your fleet.
There’s no lack of information out there about which exercise routines and diets are the best. Make sure to keep your research simple and use reliable sources.
When sharing this information with drivers, make sure to keep it short and sweet. Too much unnecessary information just serves as noise and will drown out your message. Sharing simple videos or graphics is a good practice which adds a visual element to help remember. Finally, your awareness campaign should be constant so that drivers hear the message repeated many times. Informing drivers about a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be something that you implement only during onboarding and then never mention again.
2. Empower and provide
Creating a fleet of healthy truckers isn’t going to magically happen after just educating drivers about it. Once drivers know the details about how they’d like to be healthier, they often get stuck in the actual implementation. In order to implement a healthier lifestyle, drivers need to be empowered by resources you can provide.
We know not every carrier can provide the best gym equipment or the best work schedule. However, that doesn’t mean that your fleet can’t provide anything at all either. The truth is that every fleet can provide some resources that will help their drivers be healthier.
Given the importance of health to your fleet’s success, it’s crucial that carriers provide resources as much as they can. This could be as simple as a map of truck stops with the best gyms, or a list of healthy restaurants on the routes your drivers take most often. If you have even more resources, you could invest in providing each driver with some basic exercise equipment like kettleballs or jump rope. Many drivers have turned to cooking their own meals in the cabin and basic amenities like a crockpot or microwave would empower them to cook healthy dishes.
3. Nudge and incentivize
Remember that it’s not just up to drivers whether they choose to be healthy truckers or not. The environment and other people are factors as well. You shouldn’t require or force your drivers to do anything, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a positive influence in small ways. The latest social science shows us that people can influence desirable behavior without being coercive. Use the power of habit and routine to encourage drivers to change behavior.
For example, you can leave a friendly package of healthy snacks for drivers before their runs during their first few weeks on the job. Soon they’ll form the habit of preferring those snacks to sugary sodas and salty chips.
Drivers will start looking for those snacks at the truck stops themselves. Or you can leave coupons to healthy restaurants for the same effect. You may persuade your drivers to prefer getting deli sandwiches and cold cuts instead of greasy burgers. You can also create friendly competitions or games among your drivers to incentivize healthier behavior. Offer simple perks for those who win- remember that it’s more about the process than the specific reward.
4. Motivate and inspire
No matter how hard people try and succeed in changing their behaviors, it doesn’t stick unless they feel motivated and inspired to keep it up. Providing incentives to be healthier won’t be as effective as recognizing positive changes. Make sure to find ways your carrier can recognize healthier patterns of behavior such as a different diet, change in exercise routine, or other measures. This way you can use company culture to inspire more drivers to become healthy truckers. Careful in using recognition because it can often backfire if not done well!
One method is to use the feedback “sandwich”. Your feedback is best when it starts with something positive, then includes mentioning how to improve, and ending with something positive again. Aim to reward positive changes, and not punish undesirable changes. You may want to recognize a driver who has lost weight or combated an illness, while not putting others down at the same time. This way you can encourage support systems between drivers instead of individual competition. Using company resources to motivate and inspire your fleet reminds drivers that they are all in this together and can all become healthy truckers.
The Ultimate Guide for Truck Drivers to Maintain 3 Healthy Habits Over the Road
Download the complete guide for tips to easily maintain healthy habits over the road.