Driver Incentive Programs and Coaching: Working Together to Retain Drivers

Finding workers who are a great fit for your organization can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. And keeping them? That can be even harder. Since employee turnover is costly in every aspect, when you add talented workers to your staff, it’s wise to keep them. As Forbes wrote in a recent coaching article: “Great companies are a result of great people. But the challenge is retaining and developing great people.”

How can commercial fleet managers retain and develop great drivers? There are many creative retention ideas, but an innovative driver incentive program, coupled with effective driver coaching, are two great places to start. Here’s how coaching and a driver recognition program can work together to make your drivers feel invested in—and inspire them to stay.

Invest in Your Drivers Through Coaching

“It’s all in the approach.” We’ve all heard it before. But you could just as easily say, “It’s all in the way you coach.” Just as teachers have perfected the art of constructive criticism, driving coaches have refined the way they craft their coaching sessions.

“One trick to making employees feel cared for when you’re coaching is this: Keep it positive,” said Del Lisk, Lytx VP of Safety Services. “By being upbeat and maintaining a calm, optimistic tone, coaches can develop relationships with their drivers and show them that they’re a priority.”

Every time you sit down with a driver to help him or her improve, you’re letting them know you’re investing in their future. And that sends a strong message. “Employee retention requires making employees feel invested in and not just utilized for their productivity,” Forbes writes. “One of the best ways to keep great employees feeling cared for and engaged is through coaching programs.”

Continuous Training Changes Habits ‘for Good’

The best coaches connect with drivers on a personal level and instill in them safe driving habits that last. Continuous training, like that encouraged by the Lytx DriveCam® safety program, for example, can change habits for good. By helping drivers develop safe and productive driving techniques over the long-term, coaching can transform good drivers into great drivers, setting them up to retain their jobs long term.

“Beyond helping employees learn new skills, coaching helps improve self-confidence and morale,” asserts TalentCulture, an organization dedicated to innovation in the workplace. Eighty percent of professionals who received coaching reported boosted self-esteem, and 63 percent saw a positive change in their overall wellness. That’s no coincidence. “When you give people the tools they need to do their jobs better, it follows that they will be happier and more confident at work,” they stated.

In the commercial driving world, coaching fosters safe driving behaviors. And that puts drivers in position to not only keep their jobs, but also to get promoted and rewarded for a job well done.

A Driver Incentive Program Can Motivate Drivers to be Safer

Sure, coaching is a great way to develop your drivers. But you also want to make goal setting fun for them. That’s where incentives come in. Whether it’s getting to see their names on the safest drivers list or being acknowledged at an awards breakfast, driver recognition can lead to better results that keep your drivers running safely and smoothly.

Well-designed driver incentive programs are great motivators that spur driver engagement and lead to better performance,” Lisk said. “Driver reward programs that are too broad with unclear objectives may not direct drivers to the desired results. Managers who design incentive programs that are narrower in scope and encourage improvement in a few specific behaviors, such as drowsy driving or texting, will see the best results.”

What’s more, when you use video clips to give targeted feedback to the drivers you’re coaching, you can instill in drivers good habits that elevate them to a higher plain of safety. “The more targeted you are in your scope, the more successfully you can guide others to your desired outcomes,” Lisk said.

Forbes backs up these points, saying that “for incentives to work, they need to be unambiguous and directly tied to a measurable action or achievement.” Otherwise, there’s a risk of underperformance and low job satisfaction.

Driver Incentives Don’t Have to be Cash Rewards

A driver incentive program doesn’t have to cost much. And, Lisk said, there are better options than cash rewards. A simple word of praise goes far, especially when it’s shared in front of others.

“You don’t have to break the bank with your driver incentive program ideas,” Lisk said. “Simply listing your safest drivers will motivate your drivers to make the safe drivers list every week.” Whether it’s airing videos of safe driving in the break room, where drivers can discuss them, or treating a safe driver to lunch, recognizing strong performance can be free or inexpensive.”

However you choose to tackle driver incentives, remember this: There’s value in having them. And the clearer your rewards program is laid out, the more obtainable rewards will be for your team. The bottom line is, by combining coaching and driver incentives, your drivers will know you have their back.

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