Contributed by: Jeff Clark –Trucking Solutions Group
Getting freight moved takes a chain. We all know that it takes a shipper, a consignee, and a trucking company to get freight where it needs to be. The trucking company needs drivers, or owner operators to get their part of the job done. It is always a balancing act for a trucking company to keep all three links in this chain satisfied. The weakest link in the chain requires the most attention. If you have 10 loads and 9 drivers, the drivers become the priority. That is where we are now in the industry.
Attracting and retaining quality drivers has become a priority. With turnover rates that exceed 100%, the industry is doing a lousy job of retaining their drivers. What they are doing is not working. Drivers are short term assets. The trucking companies need to start treating drivers as long term partners.
It is generally accepted that over the road truckers have a shorter life expectancy than most Americans. The driving force right now is averaging over 50. Just a month ago I sat down at the counter in Walcott, IA. There were about 15 other drivers there. At 53, I was probably the youngest one there. The national unemployment rate is hovering around 10%. Trucking companies are constantly complaining about a shortage of qualified drivers. If the industry does not change its thinking the perceived driver shortage of today will increase geometrically in 10 years.
Drivers easily change companies. They have nothing to lose. Smart companies will make it more difficult to leave. A health care package would be a distinct competitive advantage for a company competing to attract and retain quality drivers. I am talking about a package that makes is easy, even free to see a Doctor on a regular basis. This is not a wham bam thank you ma’am DOT physical. The physical should be sitting down and actually consulting about long term health. These consultations should be a give and take between the driver and the medical professionals. How many drivers have died because they never had a colonoscopy, or a mammogram? Different procedures are necessary as we age. Organizing our health maintenance will not let us miss simple life saving tests.
Diet and exercise are part of health maintenance. Consulting with nutritionists and physical trainers should be part of the package. We don’t have to go vegan, or run marathons. Nutritionists can help us make small changes in our diets that can make a big difference. Exercise is a wonder drug. Walking for even 20 minutes a day can add years to your life. They can help you stop smoking.
Companies who adopt a wellness strategy will have a distinct advantage in the marketplace. They will have the upper hand until other companies catch up. Taking an interest in the long term health, will help companies turn their drivers from short term assets to long term partners.
** Mr. Clark was our special guest on Blog Talk Radio for our show : Trucker Health and Carrier Responsibility on 04/19/2012.
© 2012, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.