Why Driver Health and Wellness Should Take the Front Seat in 2023 and Beyond

As companies move to great lengths to keep driver turnover rates low, here are a number of strategies to reach these goals.

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5m3photos - stock.adobe.com

The e-commerce industry has undoubtedly seen tremendous growth over the last several years – fueled largely in part by COVID-19 – and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. In fact, e-commerce sales are projected to increase from $3.3 trillion today to $5.4 trillion by 2026. While retailers are continually working to meet rising demand, there is immense pressure on drivers to support this growth. As customer satisfaction remains a cornerstone of exceptional service, drivers, especially in last-mile logistics, are expected to seal the deal for their employers with on-time and seamless delivery experiences.

But while customer satisfaction has every reason to be a key priority for retailers, carriers, and third-party logistics (3PL) providers in today’s competitive landscape, 2022 showed us that it’s not the end-all-be-all when it comes to factors for success. Apart from an already tight labor market and continued last-mile driver shortages, the last year endured everything from contractors calling it quits, to “quiet quitting” dominating the airwaves, and union-related strife across every mode. An employee-empowered market gave drivers a chance to seek better opportunities, which continues to leave many scrambling to catch up.

It’s clear that the bare minimum just won’t cut it anymore today, and companies that place driver appreciation and satisfaction at the top of their strategies will be the ones with the competitive and impactful edge. By prioritizing driver engagement, health/wellness, and motivation, companies can better improve employee retention, productivity, and ultimately a seamless customer experience for those anxiously waiting by their mailboxes.

As companies move to great lengths to keep driver turnover rates low, there are a number of strategies they can implement to reach these goals.

1. Understanding the pain points

It’s no secret that happy employees produce better work. Having an open line of communication with employees to understand their feedback is critical to ensuring the working relationship remains mutually beneficial. Peak seasons often bring increased demand and longer hours for drivers, both time on the road and time under the roof, and with that can come feelings of anxiety, depression, and a general sense of uneasiness for those worried about their performance.

Creating and maintaining a pipeline for open, candid dialogue is a great way to ensure drivers’ voices are being heard and a feedback loop that allows employers to quickly address any issues head-on. This is also a great way for managers and leaders to give an encouraging word and ensure employees feel valued amidst tight timelines and heavy workloads.

2. Incentivizing good work

Gamification can be a great way to incentivize employees to do their best work, especially during peak seasons. This can be customized based on key metrics and KPIs that fit individual business needs/goals and can include everything from performance bonuses to gift cards to a few extra days of PTO and more.

The important thing when implementing these incentives would be to ensure that drivers have realistic and clearly defined goals to hit and that this is presented as a fun way to motivate, and not be another stress inducer. Plus, a little healthy competition can go a long way for building overall team morale.

3. Empower drivers to do their best work

Additionally, companies should find ways to empower drivers to do their best work. There are a number of software services and solutions that combine powerful technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics to optimize and plan routes, understand and accommodate for real-world constraints or delays and keep customers apprised of package statuses. Advanced technologies like optimized route planning can make drivers’ jobs easier by reducing time spent on the road, which in turn reduces wear and tear on the delivery fleet. For drivers, it’s the unknowns that can make or break their experiences. And having access to deep intelligence from ongoing operations allows companies to make better decisions for their drivers. It also offers greater visibility for stronger consistency in the workplace that can set their teams up for success. Utilizing advanced analytics and predictive programs increases safety, improves drivers’ work-life balance and increases productivity. A win-win for drivers and companies alike.

A well-oiled workforce can also go a long way with consumer experiences too. Peak season often brings with it the opportunity for businesses to cash in on shopper frenzies by enticing new customers to purchase with them. That first impression can easily result in a returning customer, but without the proper resources and strategies in place from initial order to the final hundred feet of a delivery can instead turn into disaster.

Many couriers have a better handle on forecasting moving into the 2022 peak season, and most are feeling more confident in their ability to meet delivery service-level agreements (SLAs) for customers. In spite of this though, there’s still a heavy uneasiness about driver availability today and moving forward; it’s imperative that driver experiences remain high priority to sustain success. Drivers recognize they’re at a premium, and having things like more predictability, optimization, and appreciation will be increasingly critical to keeping them productive, satisfied, and coming back.