How to Develop a Driver Incentive Program
Using Telematics to Engage Employees and Enhance Retention
You already know the benefits of using fleet management solutions to optimize productivity and cut costs — but were you aware of how it can help boost your driver training efforts and increase employee retention? Due to current and predicted future driver shortages, keeping your best employees has become more crucial than ever.
As a fleet owner or manager, your role requires the ability to manage machinery as well as people effectively. In fact, you depend heavily on the optimal performance of both to ensure the smooth running of your business. The reality is that machines can be replaced, but the people that work with you, specifically those that are within the driver role, are becoming increasingly tougher to fill. Whether your fleet is large or small, long or short distance, you depend on your drivers heavily.
Coaching efforts for individual drivers as well as the team as a whole should be the first plan of action when implementing an employee-focused driver rewards program. From the onboarding process to on-the-job training to post-incident protocols, a coaching curriculum that reflects the expectations and specifics of your company’s driver needs should be developed.
A coaching program shows your drivers that you are committed to their professional development. Some benefits of creating a formal driver coaching program include:
- Reduces incident frequency
- Lowers insurance claim costs
- Protects your brand
- Identifies risky behaviors
- Prevents accidents
- Improves driver road awareness
- Allows for sharing information in real-time with drivers
Given the outlook on the labor market, it’s important for fleet managers to be more dedicated to training and retention in order to reduce churn. By using a fleet management solution like GPS Trackit, you now have the power to do just that.
Renewing Hope in the Trucking Labor Market
Since 2005, the American Trucking Association (ATA) has been reporting a progressive shortage of drivers in the trucking industry. The situation has become so problematic, it was estimated that the industry’s shortage of drivers totaled approximately 60,000 at the closing of 2018.
While this may make for an attractive job prospect for many, the fact remains that driver shortage is still an ongoing problem. Because of this, retaining the quality drivers who already work for you is a crucial business need. By using telematics to identify your best drivers, the idea of retention becomes easier to manage. If you’re committed to creating a company culture that is steeped in longevity, progressive scaling of business and growth, fleet management software can help to streamline your human resources efforts, training and driver retention.
A case study conducted on Krispy Kreme’s use of telematics software in driver coaching revealed that the brand experienced:
- An 80% reduction in incident frequency
- An over 40% reduction in paid motor fleet claims
- 100% visibility of collisions in real-time
- Improved driver road awareness
Developing a Driver Rewards Program
Creating a program that rewards and incentivizes your drivers is a great way to establish loyalty and retain key employees. The Driver Scorecard data found in GPS Trackit’s fleet management software allows you to compare and contrast driver behaviors. This data can be compiled and used over time to inform you on your driver’s behavior, from those who need further coaching to those who are doing well enough to possibly train others.
The techniques you use to coach your drivers are also important to the success of your fleet. It’s important to use a variety of techniques that help to keep drivers ahead of the rules and demands of your particular industry. We’ve compiled a list of techniques that are key to building a great foundation for your driver coaching program:
- Safety Meetings. Regularly scheduled discussions of safety topics and a great forum to discuss any issues with safety drivers wish to share.
- Ride Alongs. Supervisors schedule one-on-one coaching time in the field with drivers.
- Learning Management Systems. Using an online portal that drivers can use to access training documents and materials remotely.
- Dispatch Communications. Real-time communications with drivers, especially when dealing with impending rough weather conditions.
- Professional Driver Coaching & Training Programs. Using a professional program dedicated to driver coaching and training.
Creating the Program
A great way to begin the process of creating an employee-focused driver incentive program is by identifying and highlighting behaviors you want to recognize. This should not be a program used to “keep drivers in line” or “rid your business of bad drivers.” Every driver that is employed with your business should be considered valuable, and therefore coachable in terms of safety, efficiency and effort in getting the job done.
Some fleet management solutions have the capability to detect many different driver actions such as:
- Rapid acceleration
- Hard braking
- Sudden stops
- Hard turning
- Speeding over 75mph
- Speeding over 80mph
- Speeding over 85mph
In the GPS Trackit system, these actions are scored in the Driver Scorecard. These scores, when they are compiled and compared, can be used to work with, reward or improve your team of drivers. You can use the data to create rewards weekly, monthly or annually.
Determine Important Metrics to Use
While in the creation phase, pinpointing actions that are the highest priority for driver safety and coaching is very important to establishing the program. Having these mapped out from the beginning will make it much easier to develop a system that chooses training and coaching as the first line of defense against potential problems. The KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that you choose will determine the plan of action that would be best for your company and driver.
Since you’re developing an employee-focused program, you can get started by assigning a driver who is constantly flagged for actions like hard braking to supervised coaching sessions to improve their score. It’s also important to use the data from drivers who are continuously scoring well as the baseline for performance.
Here’s an example of a scorecard of a specific driver: Jason. While Jason does not have any indicators of issues like speeding and sudden stops, he does have issues with hard braking and hard turns. Depending on where these fall on your list of KPI’s, this will be handled according to your plan of action. When your driver reward program is employee-focused, this should lead to coaching and planning on actions that will improve these behaviors to mitigate preventable safety hazards.
Within the GPS Trackit system, the scale is designed so that on one end “0” indicates a nearly perfect driving score, while on the other end of the scale “10” represents a number of events of concern happening during the period of time being reviewed.
Once you’ve established and ranked your scorecard’s KPI’s, it’s time to develop the way that you want to carry out the plan of action. The key here is to make sure that you are rewarding drivers for their good performance and creating a coaching and improvement-focused environment for those who are not meeting the mark.
Some examples of incentives for consistently performing well could include:
- Cash bonuses.
- Monthly awards or recognition using certificates or recognition during company meetings.
- Promotion and career advancement to train and onboard new employees and coach drivers who need improvement.
This makes for an incentivized program that creates an environment where new drivers get to work directly with experienced drivers and aspire to a standard set by their peers. It is recommended to allow a grace period for each new driver to become acclimated to the system so that there will be an established baseline of driver behavior and necessary coaching.
The information that you gather from the driver scorecards can also be used to conduct annual reviews on your drivers. Using the data on each driver’s performance collected over a year provides plenty of information for any improvement necessary, specialized coaching and growth opportunities.
Setting Drivers up for Success
With fleet management and telematics, you can create an ecosystem of successfully managed drivers that inspire one another toward success and who feel valued for their conscious efforts toward the goals of the company.
Safety one of the most important things to consider as it relates to your drivers. A lack of driver safety can cause severe loss and result in a major amount of damages to the business itself.
Fleet management solutions are also great for optimizing driver routes and idle time. Monitoring driver routes, accounting for heavy traffic during certain times of the day as well as keeping track of issues concerning safety and traffic rules can create a shield against preventable issues and costs to the company.
Throughout the coaching and process, documentation should always be a part of the process. Keeping detailed records of training and coaching programs should be built into your system from the very beginning. This could serve to help protect your fleet in the event of an incident. Documentation processes should also be enforced with drivers. GPS Trackit’s platform has a variety of tools to assist with consistency in documenting driver behaviors, tracking, etc.
Recognizing drivers when they’re performing well is another important piece to cover when developing your driver training program. Your coaching program should be responsive to things going great as well as when there are issues. Celebrating positive driver behaviors as well as the negative creates a relationship with drivers that is engaging and focused on progress. Positive reinforcement also helps drivers already doing well to grow and thrive in their position.
The motivation that comes with positive reinforcement is something that can create the momentum that makes your company and fleet a place drivers feel a long term connection with. Motivating your drivers toward success creates a cohesive structure to your employment and retention process.
Creating Incentives & Rewards
Creating the foundation of a great incentivized driver rewards program can be a huge win for a fleet of any size. The incentives themselves are completely up to you. It is important for you to understand that since this is an employee-focused plan, it would be a great idea to gather data from the drivers working with you to discover what incentives would be best to offer the team. After all, you want a program that drivers will be eager to participate in. This can be anything from bonuses for great drivers to creating a points system for an office competition.
Gamification in Driver Rewards Programs
People love a little healthy competition, and your employees are no different. Gamification, or the creation of a program that uses elements of game playing, is one way you can create a driver incentive program that encourages employees to participate. Use driver scorecard information to create weekly snapshots of driver scores and rankings. These rankings can be published for everyone to see and the top drivers can be rewarded based on your system of incentives. This also encourages drivers with lower rankings to seek out opportunities to improve.
Creating a driver incentive program and better-utilizing driver scores and information is just one way you can maximize your return on investment in your fleet management solution. Not sure if you’re getting the most out of your fleet management solution? Find out how much you could save with our online ROI calculator, or talk to one of our expert Fleet Advisors today.