Trucking companies know that the majority of their turnover occurs in the first 90 days of employment. So why do we treat orientation like a prenuptial agreement instead of a beautiful wedding ceremony?
Think back to your wedding ceremony (let’s assume you still love your significant other). Your vows were a commitment that you loved each other for who they were that day. You committed to stand by his or her side and to grow together. On the other hand, if you are marrying your sixth trophy wife, there is no party until she signs the prenuptial agreement. Do you treat drivers like the love of your life or are you more concerned about protecting yourself for the inevitable divorce?
Plaintiff lawyers have perverted the view of HR’s primary function to protect you as much as possible from lawsuits. Drivers know this is HR’s primary function and view them as the principal’s office, not a support center. Starting the relationship with a driver by preparing for the divorce allows the self-fulfilling prophecy to happen.
Starting your new relationship with drivers by putting 60 pages of paperwork in front of them is not a way to show the love - It’s a way to cover your behind. Paperwork is cumbersome, but necessary. However, it doesn't have to be as boring as filling out insurance paperwork at a new doctor. You are already gathering most of the information for new hire paperwork during the application process. For the love of drivers, please do not make them write anything they previously typed. You should look into Applicant Tracking Systems that have an easy to use, mobile friendly application and can pre-populate new hire paperwork. New hire paperwork should take minutes not hours.
A lot of our customers want to walk through forms with drivers to make sure they understand everything. This is noble, but you do not need to baby sit them. Eliminating the need for drivers to write in information gives you time to have a conversation about each form. You are either wasting time watching drivers write or they are focusing on the paperwork and not listening to you. You only have limited time during orientation – do not waste it watching them write their name, address, social, etc. 60 times over.
During this process, drivers are asked to sign documents stating that they “understand” and “acknowledge” the information in front of them. Your job is to ensure that they truly understand what is said and they are not just signing on the line like robots. Your job is to make a boring process engaging. You have probably heard the same questions during each orientation. Answer them in advance. Start by sharing the “why” behind each document. Each driver should have the document in front them. Have the drivers tell you the purpose for each form to confirm they understand. Do not just make it a one-way street of information, but a conversation.
Use your extra time to explain your culture. Send them on scavenger hunts to ask other drivers and employees about your company’s history, key customers and company values. Make the new hires present what they found to the group. Have them share what they learned and why they are excited to join your company.
Each interaction of a new driver with your company can be seen as a net positive or a net negative. Put yourself in your new hires shoes to come up with better ways to think about how you come across about caring for drivers. Putting drivers through the same old sheep dip as every other company sets the expectations that you will be just like every other trucking company. You are not like every company, so do not misuse driver orientations like other companies do.
Taking this extra time to show your commitment to new drivers and your desire for their success and inclusion will not only make these drivers feel welcome, but feel loved and more eager to match that commitment.
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