A fleet can only ever be as successful as its drivers. As a fleet manager you need to keep these vital cogs in your operation running as smoothly and efficiently as your fleet of vehicles – which means keeping your drivers happy, healthy, engaged and informed.
We’ve chosen the five best ways to address your drivers’ most important issues and interests that will help keep them on board.
- Listen to them
It might be difficult for fleet managers in large organisations to interact with all drivers on a regular basis, but keeping the channels of communication open and being available to any phone calls or emails will go a long way to ensuring drivers feel happy with how they’re regarded by their employer.
The same goes for involving drivers in deciding on the specification of the vehicles they use on a daily basis.
“Drivers are a fleet manager’s eyes and ears on the road. Fleet decision-makers that fail to involve drivers in the decision-making process cannot possibly know what the day-to-day operational impact of any decisions may be,” Geoffrey Bray, chairman of the Fleet Industry Advisory Group told Fleet News.
When vehicle renewals are due it’s worth speaking to drivers, either individually or through representative user groups. Or ask them to send their views on what the requirements of the vehicles should be to you and ensure you give their suggestions due consideration and acknowledgment.
- Keep them informed
Fleet policies often change as a company’s policies change, or new legislation is introduced, so it’s vital your drivers are kept up to date with any new information that is relevant to them and how they perform their duties.
It’s not enough to send out emails that can easily get missed: you need to interact with them in person – either individually or in small groups – in short feedback sessions.
Drivers who feel they’re informed are much more engaged with their roles, more satisfied in their jobs making them more likely stay at a company.
- Help them stay healthy
One of the biggest enemies of a fleet driver is the often sedentary lifestyle, which can be tackled with a number of different tactics.
The first is ensuring drivers get enough sleep. The Think! road safety campaign suggests 20% of road collisions on major roads are sleep related, while approximately 40% of such crashes involve commercial vehicles . Drivers should aim to get a good night’s sleep: stopping for a nap or caffeinated drinks, while useful if feeling tired, are no real substitute.
Another problem is lack of exercise. Drivers can help themselves by trying a few simple exercises that use just bodyweight. Alternatively, a few simple yoga-style stretches and breathing exercises after a long drive are also good for easing any muscle tightness they might experience.
Allied to exercise, of course, is diet. It’s all too easy for drivers to have something quick and greasy, or heavy on the carbohydrates, when out on the road. However, encouraging them to try something more protein based, or making sure they get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, is a good way of helping them to protect their health. Drawing up a company-wide health programme can help drivers make better food choices. A 2016 RAC survey suggests drivers – truckers in particular – are eager to make healthier choices. The RAC Truck Rescue found four out of 10 lorry drivers want to see a broader range of low fat or sugar-free food at service stations and truck stops.
Finally, regular check-ups are good for identifying any impending issues. If your company has a health insurance scheme, look into whether these check-ups can be set up at regular intervals. If not, suggest to drivers they see their doctor to get checked over and seek specific advice on how to stay fit and healthy.
- Save them time
If you can fit your fleet vehicles with satellite navigation that has real-time traffic information that can reroute drivers automatically, it will have a real impact on the quality of a driver’s working day.
If that isn’t possible, suggest they use smartphone apps such as Waze, which enables drivers to share information on traffic situations.
- Save them money
A telematics system – especially one that enables drivers to switch between private and work modes, and helps them with their expense management – can save everyone money and time – two commodities that matter a great deal to drivers.
In addition, helping company car drivers with information on selecting a car that enables them to minimise their benefit-in-kind (BIK) obligations could help save them money.
Or, if your fleet is following the current trend for encouraging employees to take out personal contract plans or take up salary sacrifice schemes, point them in the direction of apps and online resources. Vehicle leasing and management company Ogilvie Fleet has online resources such as a fleet app and tax calculator – to help them make an important financial decision.
 Think! http://think.direct.gov.uk/fatigue.html