One of the biggest complaints from truck drivers is not about salary or benefits, but rather that they don’t feel appreciated by their fleets. Drivers want to feel like an integral part of the team, not just another number or a cog in the machine. National Truck Driver Appreciation Week in September is a great time to set aside and show drivers your appreciation, but it doesn’t have to stop there.
Driver appreciation can and should be a year-round activity. After all, appreciation is a key component of driver retention. So whether you’re a recruiter, dispatcher, fleet manager, or executive, take some time to show your drivers how much you and your company value them. Here are seven truck driver appreciation ideas you can use anytime.
1. Use Social Media
One of the simplest ways to show driver appreciation is by shout-outs on social media. Many fleets engage in these already and highlight different drivers individually. Make yours more meaningful by making the social media posts personalized to each driver. You can include the reasons why you think this driver is unique and special and has made an impact on the job and the company. Testimonials from other drivers and company leadership about their work will make the posts more unique. Photos are a must, but if you want to go the extra mile put together a quick one-minute video of gratitude.
2. Gift Giving
Gifts for truck drivers seem like an obvious choice to show appreciation but be careful as these can go horribly wrong. If you choose generic gifts or don’t put much thought or meaning behind the gift it can end up backfiring.
Just like Christmas gifts to extended family, the trick is to make each gift personalized to each driver.
Something that will help the everyday lives of truck drivers will also help them feel valued. For example, some drivers may be passionate about healthy eating options, so consider a crockpot or recipe book. Others may be interested in the latest tech, so Bluetooth headsets or XM radio would be good options. Gift cards are okay but find out what the driver’s favorite restaurants or stores are first.
3. Truck Servicing
Maintaining and cleaning the equipment is an essential part of the job for drivers. Arrange to wash windows or tires or find other simple ways to clean and service the trucks before the drivers can get to it. Leave a friendly note of your gratitude to surprise them. Even gift cards for truck servicing or cleaning will be appreciated. Don’t forget that a clean and well-maintained truck is a great marketing tool, and thus is a benefit to both driver and company. Drivers will also appreciate anything you can do to make sure the receiving company will be unloading the truck so that they don’t have to.
4. Thank You Notes
Sometimes the simplest ways of showing gratitude are the most effective. Hand-written thank you notes are a time-honored tradition of showing thanks all around the world. Make sure to make your notes personalized to each driver, highlighting their strengths and what makes them such a valuable part of the company. Having it signed by multiple people increases the impact. Ideally, a note like this could come directly from company leadership. Notes on special occasions like birthdays or workplace anniversaries are a must, but a surprise note out of nowhere is even more special.
If you want to go the extra mile, consider writing one note for the driver and a separate note to send to their families.
They are usually the ones behind the scenes supporting the drivers and sacrificing home time for the job, so a note to them will be much appreciated.
5. Treat Lunch
Another simple way to show your appreciation for drivers is to just cover a meal for them. Taking them out personally to lunch when they are in town will be something they will look forward to and boast about. Find out what some of their favorite restaurants are and let them know it is covered by the company. For greater impact, you can have company leadership cook and serve a meal for many drivers together all at once. Inquiring about favorite dishes or bringing your own homemade recipes adds a special touch. If you’re unable to schedule something to treat a driver to lunch, arrange for packed lunches for drivers to take on the road with them.
While the occasional small gift will be much appreciated, you can create some buzz and excitement about giveaways that fosters more engagement. This works best for larger and more expensive gifts. Usually giveaways will be used for special events or occasions such as National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, but you can pleasantly surprise drivers by engaging in this at any time during the year. Drivers can enter into drawings to win prizes covered by the company, such as new tech or gadgets. Make sure to highlight the winners and encourage more people to enter the drawing next time. Giveaways can be a popular way to build some driver engagement.
7. Solicit Feedback and Send Encouragement
Drivers want to feel part of the team and that means listening to their feedback and acting on it. Nothing will make a driver feel more engaged in the company than seeing their suggestion implemented. Ask them to propose ideas for potential solutions to challenges faced on the job, and the appreciation will take care of itself.
Making feedback and encouragement a two-way dialogue will boost engagement and show your gratitude to drivers.
Inform your company’s leadership about accomplishments or efforts by individual drivers and copy the drivers on email. Texting or emailing drivers every once in a while also keeps morale high. Best of all is encouragement and appreciation which is publicly viewed and recognized.
As you may have noticed, most of these appreciation ideas are not objects or things. While gifts and tangible objects are nice, most people place greater value on more abstract acts of gratitude. The good news is that showing appreciation doesn’t have to be time or cost extensive and can be done at any time. Most of the acts of appreciation here are focused on showing drivers that you respect them and their contributions to the fleet. By showing truck driver appreciation more often, you establish trust and respect, and build loyalty to the company.