There are many ideas to try to cut turnover for truck drivers and keep retention at a high level. But one area driver retention efforts often overlooked is stress. Stress is normal and happens to everyone at some point or another. But the things that cause stress for truck drivers are often cited as a reason they leave for another company. It stands to reason then that reducing driver stress will increase driver retention.
Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances”. What stresses out one driver may not be a huge stressor for another, but if you ask enough drivers, a common pattern of stressors will almost always emerge.
In trucking, stress usually comes from a few areas. Dispatch, delivery delays, and traffic are just a few of the most common stressors a driver faces each day on the job. Some of these you can help fix, some of them you can’t. But what you can do is try to help reduce stress in general for all of your drivers and support team.
Things that can help drivers avoid or mitigate stress at work are:
- Good communication.
Probably the most important aspect of running a trucking company everyday. People aren’t perfect and miscommunication happens. But if you work to ensure you have a great dispatch team on the same page as your drivers, it won’t happen as much. Likewise, you should make it a priorty to confirm that messages make their way down the chain of command, before a mistake can happen, and everyone gets stressed out.
Exercise is scientifically proven to reduce stress. For that reason, many trucking companies have begun to invest in gym memberships or workout equipment for their drivers. Even some of the most basic exercises sweat out bad toxins and release tension from muscles caused by stress. Exercise offers both physical and mental health benefits, so it’s definitely something you need to consider.
- Eating healthy.
Diet is another area where trucking companies are looking to improve to help drivers reduces stress. It’s true that you are what you eat, and if you eat junk, you will feel like junk and be more easily irritable and stressed.
- Driver empowerment.
Driver participation in positive events and the ability to have a voice both reduce stress. Since rapid change is a big stress factor, announce changes well in advance and try to include drivers before certain decisions are made. The one to one meetings we’ve discussed before are a great way to do that. If drivers can have some level of influence on certain parts of their job, that bit of empowerment can help put them more at ease instead of feeling like everything is out of their control.
Focus on what you can do to help drivers reduce their stress level and you’ll help increase driver retention. Your drivers will not only be more likely to stick around, but they’ll be happier as well.