One of the best ways to reduce your accident rates is to give your employees essential safety training right from the time of hire. However, it can be time-consuming to disseminate all of that information to your employees. Even worse, when you do, you often see new employees falling into bad habits after just a few weeks on the job.
How can you make sure safety is continuously valued by every employee? One way is to utilize driver mentors.
What is a Driver Mentor And Why is it Important?
A driver mentor is a veteran employee assigned to a new employee to acclimate them to the culture, the job, and the safety practices that are essential for your organization. A driver mentor program can have an informal structure where the mentor and mentee chat in the morning over coffee or throughout the day on-the-job. Or, it can be formal, and your mentor can meet with their new employee on a weekly basis to cover specific talking points.
Regardless of the specific method you employ, there are a few reasons that driver mentor programs are effective when it comes to safety.
We Don’t Retain Everything From New Employee Training
Every piece of information you give your new employees during onboarding training is crucial for preventing accidents and injuries. The only problem is, the first few days on a job are a whirlwind. It’s hard to retain everything we’re taught on day one.
You need safety training to be a consistent part of working for your company. You need it to be a part of everyday conversations and be in the thoughts, words, and actions of all employees. With a mentor system focused on safe driving behaviors, you can help new employees keep safety top of mind.
Driver Mentors Have Credibility
The fact is, when a new employee hears something from another employee, it means more than when it comes to you. That’s not to say they don’t care about what you think, but they will know how important and beneficial something is to them if other employees are doing it too. They’re much more likely to follow essential safety practices when veteran employees seem to care about them.
Driver Mentors Are Confidants
Your new employees will have many questions - guaranteed. No matter how transparent and welcoming you try to be, your new employees won’t want to come to you for every question, comment, and concern they have. Nor would you want them to. Yes, an open door policy is important, but why answer a question that someone else could easily answer? This is where a driver mentor comes in.
Your new employee will feel empowered to get their vital safety questions answered by their mentor. They won’t be left guessing on the job, and you won’t have a rotating door to your office.
3 Ways to Incorporate Driver Mentors Into Your Safety Program
That’s the what and the why when it comes to a driver mentor program. But what about the “how”? What are the steps to effectively incorporating driver mentorship into safety training?
Here are three steps that every company should take to effectively launch a mentorship program.
1. Align Your Mentors With Your Safety Practices And Goals
You want your driver mentors to be able to answer pressing and pertinent questions regarding defensive driving and safety practices. However, worse than not having a mentorship program is having driver mentors teaching new employees the wrong information.
You need your driver mentors to be informed and aligned to your safety goals. The best way to do that is with an off-the-shelf light-duty fleet safety training program like The Fleet Safety Course. The Fleet Safety Course is online, self-directed, affordable, and guaranteed to reduce your accidents and injuries. Newbies and veterans alike will learn something from it.
2. Define Your Mentor Criteria And Establish a Hiring Process
Just because an employee is effective in his or her role does not make them a good mentor. A mentor is someone who is approachable, kind, responsible, engaged, and motivated to teach.
Before you start assigning new employees driver mentors, make sure you lay out exactly what qualities you’re looking for. These aren’t for broadcasting to everyone in the company, but rather a hiring tool for you. Then, only promote the employees that meet those qualities you’re looking for. Set-up an application process, conduct interviews, and promote the best candidates.
A product such as LLLC Instructor Certification can make this process a lot easier. LLLC empowers your best employees to train your drivers on the Four Principles to Driving Safely. It includes hiring criteria, structured interview materials, a virtual workshop, and online lessons on defensive driving and adult learning and coaching theories.
3. Advertisement and Reward
A driver mentor program is only as effective as your employees allow it to be. You need your veteran employees to be excited to participate. Use promotional materials such as announcements, posters, and a kick-off meeting to engage your current employees about the opportunity. Make the goals, the process, and the steps to becoming a mentor clear.
Then, if possible, reward the employees who successfully become a driver mentor. Ideally, this would be done via a small raise or other incentives. This legitimizes the program and creates another career goal for your top employees.
Reduce Accidents And Save Yourself Time
If you’re like most organizations, you don’t have the time or resources to effectively train all of your new employees on your own. You need a group of veteran employees to take some of this burden away from you.
When you properly train your veteran drivers, align them with your safety goals, and establish driver mentor criteria, you can create a team of driven and engaged safety experts willing to coach your new employees. This lowers your cost of loss, saves you time, and protects your people day in and day out.
Contact us if you need help getting your driver mentor program started.