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Everyone wants to feel appreciated while at work, and truck drivers are no different. This is why having driver incentive and appreciation programs are so important for carriers looking to recruit and retain top talent.

Here are some of the best types of truck driver incentive programs, the best practices for putting them in place, and an interview with representatives from an industry leader in driver recognition and incentives, Paper Transport.

What Are the Best Types of Incentives?

When putting together driver incentive programs, there are a few things to keep in mind. Think about what is a perceived benefit to your drivers, and what your overall company goals are. Striking a good balance between the two is where the best incentive programs will be created.

Are you falling short with on-time deliveries? Are your fuel efficiency metrics not being met? Is turnover too high? These are great places to start designing incentives to encourage change. Here are the three key types of driver incentive programs.

Additional Compensation

This is usually the go-to for any driver incentive program. Reward your drivers with cash if they achieve a stated goal within a certain time frame. That can be either a raise in their hourly rate, or an additional check that goes on-top of their normal take home pay. Cash rewards are fairly standard, and you can use them at any time, even as part of the hiring process to encourage drivers to stay with the company.

Recognition Rewards

Giving drivers something other than a financial incentive can sometimes be the greater influence on positive behavior. A certificate, their name on a plaque somewhere prominent, or even a mention in a company newsletter to acknowledge their accomplishment could be more impactful than money could ever be. This type of reward is something they’ll have forever, and the memory and sense of appreciation that go along with it might last far longer than the bonus ever would.

Catalog Programs

Some companies choose to have achieving small milestones accumulate points over time. Drivers can then redeem these point for items in a catalog. These types of programs can help change behavior consistently over time since drivers might be working towards a new gadget that they’d love to have. Or even better, something that they know that their spouse would really love as a gift.

Incentive Programs Implementation

Measure consistently

You should be able to easily measure any progress toward driver goals objectively. Be sure that the rules in place for your programs are clear as to how results are tallied, and by when. When the time frame for achieving them has passed, everyone should be able to see where they landed in relation to the goals.

Be fair

Fairness should be built into any employee program. Otherwise drivers will become disinterested in the program and stop applying themselves towards it. Of course, nobody is trying to be unfair with their incentive programs, but problems with fairness could arise that you would never think about.

For example, say your carrier has an incentive program where drivers who go X miles without an accident get some sort of financial reward. While a good idea in theory, it could be seen as unfair if your carrier has drivers doing different types of runs. This goal would be much easier for local drivers who spend most of their time in suburban areas than it is for OTR or regional drivers who mostly drive on congested highways.

The solution for a program like this would be to have a tiered or scaled approach for the incentive depending on the variety of the runs and types of drivers you have. There’s always a way to be different and still keep things fair. This is the best way to avoid disengagement with your programs. It also ensures that each driver feels a sense of belonging to the overall company goals.

An Interview with Amber Long and Cate Whitman

Cate Whitman, Marketing and Communications Manager, Paper Transport

We were able to speak with Amber Long, Recruiting Operations Manager and Cate Whitman, Marketing and Communications Manager with Drive My Way client, Paper Transport. For years, Paper Transport has been an industry leader in terms of driver happiness and incentive programs.

Amber and Cate spoke to us about the different truck driver incentive programs they have, which have been the most successful, and their new “Accelerate” driver finishing program.

What incentives does Paper Transport offer to drivers?

“We offer several incentive bonuses to our drivers including PSP inspection, referral, monthly MPG, and CSA bonuses, as well as “Driver of the Month/Quarter” bonuses that are based on our driver scorecards. Using the scorecards, drivers can see where they rank monthly in metrics like safety, performance, and productivity.

Aside from those traditional “bonus” incentive programs, we also offer our drivers a wellness program with an onsite nurse practitioner. The nurse comes in to do check-ins and follow-ups with drivers about any medical or health concerns they may have. This is a program that was started during covid, and we’re planning to keep around. It’s just one more way that we try to provide support for our drivers.”

Amber Long, Recruiting Operations Manager, Paper Transport

Out of all the incentives you offer, which do you think resonates with drivers the most?

“The “Driver of the Month/Quarter” is the most motivating. In addition to receiving a cash bonus, like they would with our other incentives, these drivers receive an engraved crystal truck trophy, and the director of Paper Transport has been known to send steaks to their homes.”

When it comes to having successful incentive programs, what do you think the key is?

“One thing we always try and do is look for ways to improve our truck driver incentive programs and make our drivers happier. The “Driver of the Month/Quarter” award is one program we’ve improved on since it first started.

Originally, we only gave out a small number of these awards to the drivers who ranked at the very top. This was fine at first, but as Paper Transport grew, we realized this now meant that we weren’t featuring an appropriate number of drivers relative to how big our fleet was becoming.

We decided to give out a greater number of these awards so we could recognize even more drivers. This gives them more incentive to have a good scorecard since the awards are much more attainable now.”

Aside from traditional incentive programs, is there anything else Paper Transport does to make drivers happy?

“One thing we always try to do is make our drivers feel welcome at our corporate offices. That’s why we have our offices open to all Paper Transport drivers in case they ever want to drop by and meet their managers or anyone else within the company. We also have an in-office gym and showers for the drivers as well.

Aside from that, we have a finishing program for new drivers called the Accelerate Class A CDL Training Program.”

What is the Accelerate program?

“The Accelerate Program is Paper Transport’s finishing school. This is for drivers who have completed CDL training and hold their CDL A but have little to no actual experience behind the wheel.

The program is a 3-weeks long, with a one-week in-class orientation and two weeks on the road, one-on-one with a driver trainer. The training is completely paid for, and while the drivers are in orientation, they get a private hotel and their own rental car. For drivers and trainees of opposite genders, the trainee will have their own private hotel during on-the-road training.

We started this program to make our new drivers more comfortable and confident while on the road. Some carriers throw new drivers out there without the support or one on one treatment these new drivers need, and that’s not what we wanted to do.

The biggest benefits to our drivers with this program is the one-on-one time with a trainer and the guaranteed pay after they complete the program.”

Who trains these new drivers in the accelerate program?

“We recruit drivers from our own fleet. Interested drivers apply for the driver trainer position and go through the normal interview process.

If they have a good attitude and no issues on their MVR, we’ll bring them into the “Train the Trainer” program where they learn how to mentor and educate the drivers who will be coming through the Accelerate program.

Once they pass that, they’re ready to be driver trainers. As an extra incentive, these drivers receive an additional $100 per day on top of what they would be making on the road.”

 

Truck driver incentive programs are one of the top ways to help drivers feel recognized while helping carriers meet their goals. The types of incentives you can implement are varied and can take some time to get them just right for your fleet. When you’re ready to put an incentive program in place, follow these guidelines and you’ll see success in no time.

truck driver incentive program checklist

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Truck Driver Incentive Program Checklist

The best incentive program is the one that’s effective, sustainable, and engaging for drivers. Use this checklist to align your target behavior with rewards that motivate your drivers and create a program with lasting impact.

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Total Compensation for Drivers: Communicating Effectively

Job offers that are limited to salary and health benefits tell a partial story. If you have great perks, equipment, or company culture, don’t miss a chance to talk about it! Total Compensation statements are a great way to showcase all of the direct and indirect compensation benefits you are offering to truck drivers. They won’t make up for bad pay, but they are a good way to highlight all of the assets you have to offer. In short, a total compensation package accounts for the complete pay package awarded to employees on an annual basis.

Direct compensation is the money that is paid directly to an employee. It typically includes base salary and incentive pay. On the other hand, indirect compensation accounts for all of the compensation that is not paid directly to the employee. Healthcare, retirement benefits, fuel perks, and continuing education opportunities are just a few examples of indirect compensation.

When talking to a candidate, share both the direct and indirect compensation to effectively communicate what you have to offer.

Typically, the more detail you’re able to give, the more beneficial the statement will be. Here are several common assets to include in a total compensation package.

Direct Compensation

Direct Compensation is divided into two main categories⁠—base pay and bonuses. These are the most common forms of compensation that come to mind for most people.

Base Pay

Whether you state base pay as an hourly rate or annual salary, be clear about your offering. At a minimum, include how much can drivers expect, the anticipated hours or miles, and how frequently they will get paid. If your company offers a per diem rate, this can also be included.

Bonuses

Clarify the potential for driver bonuses from the start. A few of the most common are safety, sign-on, performance, retention, and referral bonuses. Consider sharing the average amount that drivers receive from bonuses in addition to the top amount. By sharing both, drivers have realistic expectations (boosting driver satisfaction and retention) and a goal to strive for.

Indirect Compensation

Indirect compensation includes a very broad range of offerings. Most companies offer several forms of indirect compensation, but may not discuss it in their job offer. That’s a missed opportunity! Let drivers know about all of the benefits you’re providing them. While it may not come as money in the pocket, indirect compensation can be significant financial assets. Drivers who are a good fit for your fleet will value the benefits your company provides.

Health and Wellness

Medical benefits, life insurance, retirement benefits, and disability insurance are all common forms of health and wellness benefits. Nearly all fleets offer basic healthcare, and many go above and beyond. This section should communicate when benefits start as well as the details of each package. If you offer a 401K match, that’s another great asset to include in this section. Even perks like a gym membership allowance or smoking cessation programs can be included here. Drivers love to see that you are prioritizing their health by supporting their healthy habits. 

Days off

Paid time off and vacation days are another form of indirect compensation that drivers value highly. If you are offering any additional sick days or benefits for drivers who get sick with COVID-19, make sure your total compensation package includes that time. In addition, always include the anticipated schedule for home time in a job description or compensation package. 

Continued Education

Learning and development offerings are a wealth of opportunities for drivers. Many potential employees will be particularly excited to find a company that supports their professional growth. Whether you offer compensation for educational assistance programs or regularly facilitate career advancement opportunities, these are a form of indirect compensation. Not all drivers will take advantage of continued education opportunities, but those who do will be highly appreciative. 

Perks

Once you have covered the big benefits like health insurance and PTO, it might be easy to overlook smaller perks, but they add up! Perks can help drivers with big expenses such as relocation benefits or maintenance benefits. They might also defray the cost of smaller, regular expenses such as highway tolls, or gas. If you offer an EZ Pass or a Fuel Card, list it in your total compensation package.

Highlight Non-Financial Incentives

When asked, drivers revealed that there are consistently two top factors that determine whether they are looking for a new job: pay and company culture. Company leadership and culture are difficult to equate to a compensation amount. That said, they are no less important to driver recruitment and retention. If you prioritize a family-like culture or are very safety-minded, it’s appropriate to include this in your total compensation package. 

Foodliner, Inc. is one of the largest bulk food carriers in the country and a Transport Topic Top 100 carrier. They make a point to highlight company culture in their job descriptions. We spoke with Tim Yochum, Foodliner’s Director of Recruiting, and this is what he shared:

“The culture of a family owned business that values their people, treats them with respect, and works well together as a team is what makes us successful and provides a more positive experience for the driver. We have late model equipment, high quality shops, and a great customer base, but in the end it is people that make it all work.”

Similarly, quality equipment is a high priority for most drivers and can be included. Consider adding the year and type of truck as well as whether it is manual or automatic. Then, highlight any additions to the cab. If you provide a fridge, microwave, Sirius XM radio, or allow ride-along programs, share it in your total compensation package. To recruit drivers, there are also other attractive non-financial incentives that you can implement.

Communicating Total Compensation Effectively

After you have clarified exactly what your company is able to offer potential candidates, start drafting the total compensation statement. Ultimately, you’re looking for good hires and strong retention. Tim Yochum shares why he prioritizes transparency at Foodliner:

“We list non-monetary compensation in our job postings and if a candidate contacts us we are very open to providing the details of the compensation so they understand how this can affect their total compensation package. Honesty up front verses a surprise later is what we feel candidates value and appreciate. We feel that if the only reason you take a job is the money, then that will eventually be the reason you leave the job. We want the candidate to understand how the total package affects them and their family.”

Give as much detail as you are able to clearly share. It’s important for drivers to have all of the necessary information to make a decision. Even if drivers decline the job offer, that is a better outcome than hiring drivers with misleading information. If drivers feel like they have been intentionally deceived, they are more likely to quit and will have a poor impression of the company. There should be no hidden surprises. Clear communication that highlights everything you have to offer is the best approach to a total compensation package.

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7 Reasons Drivers Decline Your Jobs

Unlock the top reasons why truck drivers decline your CDL jobs by downloading our free ebook. The book shares insight to what drivers really want.

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truck driver loyalty

When turnover is nearly 95% in the trucking industry, it’s tough to keep drivers over the long run. Add that to the shrinking pool of drivers available, and you have strong competition between carriers to keep drivers. Hiring and retention doesn’t need to be an arms race between carriers. Building truck driver loyalty from the beginning helps both drivers and carriers meet their goals. Recruiters can keep the best drivers with their carriers for longer if they build a sense of loyalty. Here are 4 ways to increase truck driver loyalty.

1. Driver feedback

Drivers will always have an opinion about the job and their carriers. Whether it’s complaints about the routes or satisfaction with the strong benefits, carriers should welcome all sorts of driver feedback. Don’t let feedback become one of those taboo matters which drivers just gossip about among themselves. If drivers know their feedback is welcome, they’ll be more likely to share it with the carrier instead of their peers. Make it easy to submit feedback whether it’s online or in-person.

Welcoming feedback isn’t enough. Carriers need to make sure they can do what they can to address drivers’ concerns. If a driver is unsatisfied with the home time she’s getting, it’s only a matter of time until she looks elsewhere for another job. Even if you can’t address all driver concerns and move heaven and earth for them, it matters enough that you tried. Drivers will notice and appreciate that you listened to them and made an effort on their behalf.

One of the biggest complaints drivers have is that they don’t feel respected and valued by their carriers.

If you can show drivers that you value their feedback and try to improve things for them, they’ll be more likely to remain loyal to the carrier.

2. Strong communication

One-on-one communication with all your drivers is essential to building truck driver loyalty. In this era of smartphones and email, it’s easy to think that you can communicate through technology and reap all the benefits. Don’t just communicate with drivers to discuss transactional matters—communicate to build a relationship! If building relationships is the goal, then you need to talk with your drivers one-on-one and in-person. Even the occasional friendly chat or check-in about their work and family life will be appreciated by drivers. If you’re running low on time, even a phone call makes a difference. Drivers shouldn’t go too long without having a personal and friendly interaction with management which will foster a sense of loyalty.

3. Look beyond benefits

It’s important to remember which factors truck drivers consider before accepting a job. Carriers can position themselves to make certain that they are meeting the needs of drivers. It also helps to keep in mind the reasons why drivers declined jobs, because they didn’t offer certain benefits. If you sift through these data, you’ll find some surprising insights about what drivers value. Often, it’s not just the pay and health benefits that drivers are considering. Some of the most important factors drivers take into account are things like home time, the equipment used, a take-truck-home program, or no touch freight.

Building the right factors into the job helps build truck driver loyalty.

Home time, PTO, and vacation days are something almost all truck drivers will value so they can get some much-needed rest between runs. Some drivers will look for a spouse program or a pet program so they can get some companionship while on the road as well. Finally, carriers can offer professional development opportunities to drivers who are thinking ahead towards their whole career path. Taking simple steps to include these programs to meet driver needs will go a long way toward building truck driver loyalty.

4. Build driver-centric culture

Finally, it’s important to remember the bigger picture about why carriers should take all these measures. The end goal is to create a strong company culture which drivers can identify with. Building a driver-centric culture shows truckers that they are valued and respected. Driver appreciation ideas and engagement surveys are all means to this end. People look for jobs which satisfy a whole range of needs, including psychological and social needs. Don’t forget Maslow’s pyramid of needs and what it means for the workplace.

Drivers will look for jobs where they find personal fulfillment and a sense of belonging, not just simple job satisfaction.

Soliciting and acting on driver feedback, along with offering the right benefits, all signal to drivers that they can call this carrier their home.

The industry’s turnover and driver shortage problem aren’t leaving anytime soon. However, there’s still plenty that carriers can do to retain driver over the long-term by building truck driver loyalty. The truth is that drivers and carriers both benefit from long-term retention with the same carrier. Drivers won’t have to move from job to job in search of the perfect position which satisfies their needs. Carriers won’t have to engage in an arms race to compete over a smaller and smaller pool of rotating drivers. Use these ways to increase truck driver loyalty and keep your strongest drivers for years.
truckers.

ultimate guide to retaining truck drivers

Ultimate Guide to Retaining Truck Drivers

You work so hard to recruit the best truck drivers for your fleet. The trick is retaining them. This guide is packed with tips for retaining your fleet.

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smoking cessation

Smoking cessation programs are a great benefit to anyone looking to quit smoking. CDC statistics show that anywhere from 30%-50% of all truck drivers smoke cigarettes daily. Add this heath risk to an already stressful and sedentary occupation, truck drivers can be extremely prone to a plethora of adverse health conditions or diseases.

According to the American Lung Association: Smoking-related illness in the U.S. costs more than $300 billion a year, including over $175 billion in direct medical care for adults and $156 billion in lost productivity.

Employers can save nearly $6,000 per year for every employee who quits smoking.

Knowing this, what can you do to help your drivers kick the smoking habit for good? What kind of smoking cessation programs and incentives could work most effectively for your drivers?

Every driver has a unique personality. And their individual preferences and behaviors will certainly vary. So when putting together smoking cessation programs for your company, know that a one-size-fits-all approach might not work best. Providing options here might be a great idea. After all, you want to ensure the highest success rates possible. This will lead to healthier drivers and a healthier bottom line at the end of the year.

Change the Habit

Quitting smoking is undoubtedly very difficult. Otherwise, it would be easy for smokers to just decide to quit and stick with it. Breaking the habit by changing behaviors is a great place to start.

Offer small incentives for truckers who take steps to quit. Offer your drivers access to apps or web tools that help them stick with it once they decide to stop smoking.

There are a number of free programs available online that might help. Offers are available for coaching, hotlines, webinars and guides. All of these tools can add to the success of your company’s smoking cessation goals.

Smokeless Options

Many former smokers have found success quitting using any number of smokeless options. Though these still deliver nicotine to the body, the harmful byproducts of cigarettes are eliminated while the smoker gradually cuts back until they’ve officially quit.

Giving your truckers samples or discounts/coupons to the various patches, gums or e-cigarette options available can be a great help to someone seeking to stop smoking.

Some of these manufacturers have free programs via their websites, and offer coupons that you could provide to your employees.

Medication

There are several medications available that can aid a smoker who’s trying to break the habit. Some products are available over the counter at most drug stores. And there are many different types of prescription drugs available that can help. Making sure that these options are included in your company’s medical benefits package is a great way to encourage successful smoking cessation programs.

Giving your truckers access or discounts to these medications via their health insurance or HSA/HRA programs can lessen the expense for your drivers.

Giving your truckers access to a variety of smoking cessation tools and programs will ensure that you’re doing all you can to help your drivers lead healthier, longer lives. Helping them change their habits, and providing help with substitutes and medications can pay for themselves with cost savings at the end of the year. If you’re looking for additional tools to help your drivers lead healthier lives, download our ebook.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

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cdl truck drivers

Given the continual driver shortage, truck drivers have many options in deciding which companies and fleets to work for. Recruiters need to constantly differentiate themselves from other firms when interacting with job prospects. Recruiters are constantly guessing about how much drivers will care about different factors when weighing job options. Data from Drive My Way’s database revealed some interesting factors which CDL truck drivers care about when looking for a CDL trucking job.

Drive My Way’s unique service matches drivers with companies based on professional qualifications and lifestyle choices. We asked our drivers which factors are most important to them when they are deciding where to work. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of responses and slightly surprised by the results. According to our Drive My Way drivers, here are the top seven factors CDL truck drivers consider when deciding where to work.

1. Pay

Okay, this one is not a big surprise, but it’s good to have some hard data behind recruiters’ instincts. Type and amount of pay is the number one reason drivers said they consider when looking for jobs. In fact, over 15,000 Drive My Way drivers cited this as the top reason.

Truckers know a shoddy deal when they see one, so they’ll be skeptical if your company is offering them pay less than the industry average.

In addition to salary, drivers also look for opportunities for raises, bonuses, and overtime rates. If they are driving specialty or unusual hauls which are more dangerous, they will expect those to pay better. Bottom line, if drivers aren’t paid competitively at your company, they’ll shop around for a company where they are.

2. Health Insurance

Salary isn’t the only important factor when it comes to compensation. Drivers care about a full benefits package, including health insurance. Over 12,000 Drive My Way drivers cited this as a factor they consider when applying for a new CDL job.

The costs of health insurance have risen over the last 10 years, and drivers look for the best packages that covers their health needs. Drivers with families especially look to cover as many family members as possible. Many families will need special coverage for very particular health needs, and if their employers only offer very basic packages they will look elsewhere for a better deal. Try to balance out factors like the deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance costs and have a portfolio of different insurance options for drivers to choose from.

3. Retirement Plans

When deciding where to work, CDL truck drivers consider retirement options. The average truck driver age is 49. Many drivers are only about two decades away from retirement, so if they haven’t started saving yet they will want to now. Even younger drivers are likely to be proactive and start thinking about retirement sooner rather than later. Overall, nearly 12,000 Drive My Way drivers cited retirement plans as a top factor they consider in a new CDL job.

Many employers offer retirement plans but don’t automatically enroll their staff into a default plan. The result is that drivers and other staff are overwhelmed with having to make those decisions and put it off indefinitely. Make the process easier for your drivers by having an automatic opt-in policy. Then, they have the choice to opt-out or choose a different plan. Saving for retirement is hard, but drivers know the importance. Let your job prospects know you can make the process easier for them, and they’ll remember your company as one that cares.

4. Type of Run/Range

Truck driving jobs have a great deal of variety. One of the most critical attributes that make them different is the type of run and range that exists. Not all drivers want jobs that take them coast-to-coast across the country. Over 11,000 drivers named the type of run as an essential factor when deciding where to work.

Some drivers will prefer over-the-road (OTR) work. However, since OTR drivers spend less time at home and live out of their truck, they expect to be compensated better. Other drivers prefer local runs or regional runs. Make sure you get to know your driver candidate’s preferences in what types of runs and range they’d like to cover.

5. Type of Schedule and Paid Time-Off

Home time is one of the most important factors drivers consider when looking for work. Over 11,000 Drive My Way drivers cited both of these—type of schedule and PTO —as top job factors they consider when applying to a new CDL trucking job.

The average driver works 70 hours a week and goes 8 days before taking a day off. That’s a rough schedule for anyone, but especially for drivers who may have families and children. Truck drivers know that the job entails sacrificing home time, but they hope the sacrifices aren’t unbearable. Drivers won’t hesitate to pursue another job if that schedule and PTO package suits their needs better.

6. Training and Development

Truck drivers may have some experience behind the wheel already, but it won’t compare to getting some actual training. Nearly 8,000 Drive My Way drivers cited training and development as a top factor they consider when looking for a new CDL job.

Any company training or orientation that your company provides will make them feel comfortable in the position and foster a sense of belonging with the company. Research shows that employees who feel they’ve been trained and groomed by the company will feel a greater sense of loyalty to that company. More and more drivers are now interested in professional development opportunities. Making training and development a core part of HR operations is something recruiters can do to make a strong case for drivers to work there and remain there for many years.

7. Type of Haul

Over 4,000 Drive My Way drivers expressed that the type of haul is an important factor for them in choosing a CDL jobs. If you aren’t taking into account driver preferences and specializations in hauls, you’re under-utilizing them! Some types of hauls will require special CDL endorsements or special permits, so make sure to equip your drivers with those. If they are already certified, it makes a placement choice all the more easier. Figuring out which hauls should be covered by which drivers can be a tricky business given other constraints, but make sure you ask your drivers about their skill and interest level in them.

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FREE RESOURCE

7 Reasons Drivers Decline Your Jobs

Unlock the top reasons why truck drivers decline your CDL jobs by downloading our free ebook. The book shares insight to what drivers really want.

Download the Ebook