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Invest in Your Workforce with these 3 Simple Tips

| January 6, 2020

Guest Post By John Leo Post, Co-Founder and Vice President of Product, Worklete

In trucking, shipping, and logistics industries, it’s understandable why companies invest so much time and money in the performance and maintenance of their vehicles. After all, trucks are large, complex, and expensive machines that are integral to business success. However, what happens when all the equipment is new(ish) and you still need to innovate to move the business forward? It’s easy to forget that investing in human capital can often yield substantial returns in terms of efficiency, cost savings, and employee well-being. Organizations who figure out how to invest in engaging, training, and keeping their drivers safe will reap short-term and long-term benefits alike.

Here are three proven strategies that fleet managers can use to jump start their workforce and get them firing on all cylinders:

BE TEAM-FOCUSED

Professional coaches, Army generals, and professional managers alike all strive to create a strong culture within their teams. They know that a culture that brings team members together creates a positive ripple effect through the rest of the organization. According to a Gallup study, teams that are engaged at work have 41% lower absenteeism, 24% less turnover, 17% higher productivity and 70% fewer safety incidents. However, the study also found that only 15% of workforces are actively engaged – meaning few companies realize these benefits. If team engagement is key to gaining ground, being team-focused can help managers successfully tap in and engage their workforce. Gallup found that successful workforces “regularly receive recognition or praise for doing good work.” and feel that, “their supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about them as a person.” The most successful managers know and respect employees as individuals. They acknowledge achievements, have conversations about performance, and conduct formal reviews on a regular basis. These managers help build a work environment where employees feel safe sharing information, exploring new ideas, and supporting each other in their work and personal lives.

To witness engagement in action, look no further than Hub Group Trucking. The organization found that creating engagement opportunities through safety training strengthened the culture within their driver population.  The business effects were obvious: injuries went down by 63% and associated direct costs decreased by 85%. “Team engagement and local ownership is a key to sustainability,” says Tim Smith, vice president of safety for Hub Group, “We believe that the more we can strengthen our safety culture, the better we’ll be as an organization.”

PRIORITIZE FLEET HEALTH

Making sure drivers are engaged and want to come to work every day is a good start; making sure their bodies are healthy enough to stay on the job is the next step. Driving a truck professionally is no joke; drivers sit in sedentary positions for hours at a time, and must quickly transition to active movement to complete the final mile of the delivery. Exiting the cab, operating around the truck, pulling product, and transferring it to the customer are just a few of the physically demanding tasks that drivers perform on any given delivery. Now multiply those demands by the thousands of deliveries that drivers make throughout their careers – and the physical stress adds up.

Although truck drivers are paid to use their bodies to get the job done, few of them have ever been trained in the strongest and most efficient ways to move. Training drivers to position their bodies with strong technique will not only improve driver health, well-being, and efficiency but also reduce the workers’ compensation, replacement, and retraining costs associated with common workplace injuries.

A simple way to begin investing in your workforce’s health is by equipping them with a proper warm-up. In general, drivers’ bodies are seldom prepared to fulfill the physical demands of their jobs in the strongest, most efficient ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, a brief warm-up activates the body by raising internal temperature and increasing blood flow to the muscles. Warming-up has also been shown to reduce muscle soreness and lessen the risk of injury on the job. We also know that healthy frontlines are happier, more efficient and easier to retain. Simply taking a few minutes to warm up the body before the day starts makes the job easier, faster, and safer. Here’s a 4-step warm-up[1]  that drivers can use to start their day.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

Whether it be in day-to-day communications, or programmatic training, a “one-size-fits-all” approach is becoming a thing of the past. In a crowded room, I’m less likely to turn around if I hear, “Hey, over here!” than if I hear, “Hey, John! Over here!”. The inclusion of my name tells me that the message is for me. We can leverage personalization to make more relevant impact during day-to-day check-ins, as well as in more formal initiatives, like employee training. Tailoring company-led training to the specific needs of the driver will amplify impact and reduce time lost to irrelevant material.

We see a prime example of this in our transportation clients around the U.S. We’ve found that vehicle operators experience knee and ankle injuries at an alarming rate because of a single movement: entering and exiting the cab. This movement places a harmful shearing force on the knees and ankles if the joints aren’t aligned in a strong position. Because drivers perform this movement hundreds of times per day, the force is multiplied. The most effective safety training will teach drivers relevant techniques for performing this movement, and all other movements relevant to their jobs.

Try the following tips from Worklete’s training on Entering and Exiting the Cab:

  • When exiting the cab of the truck, drivers must watch their step, use three points of contact and always exit the cab backwards.
  • This allows for the use of handles for a stronger, safer descent.
  • With the handles in a firm grasp, drivers are able to test the condition of the surface and securely plant both feet.

By delivering relevant training to drivers, organizations and managers can fast-track the training process with minimal effect on operations.

Getting more out of your workforce may seem like a lot to chew on – but all it takes is shifting to an employee-centric mindset. By prioritizing a healthy workforce and a strong culture, managers can deliver strong ROI and take their fleet’s performance to the next level.


link to warm-up 1 sheet

Category: Driver Stuff, Featured, General Update, Management, News

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