In our experience, some trucking employers don't feel like their drivers care about benefits. To many transportation executives, providing employee benefits to truck drivers feels like an exercise in futility. They see low participation rates in health plans, retirement offerings, and other programs and ask, "Why bother?"
More than likely, what's happening is that your drivers are voting with their wallets. They don't participate because they don't think the offerings bring them enough value. It's not that benefits aren't important. It's that they'd rather not put they paychecks toward programs that don't fit their needs.
In the middle of all this are HR professionals. They recruit the drivers who pilot the trucks, but it's hard to get good people behind the wheel without offering competitive benefits. You can see how this triangle — execs, HR, drivers — is very complicated when it comes to benefits!
Providing employee benefits is critical to attracting and retaining talent, and truck drivers are no exception. So, here's the big question: Do truck drivers care about benefits? Heck yeah, and here's why:
Driving a truck is not the greatest thing for one's health. Drivers sit for hours at a time in a confined space, and the lifestyle doesn't lend itself well to exercise. They work overnight hours, which interferes with normal sleep cycles. They eat on the run and what they are eating often is fast food. They spend a lot of time away from family and friends, the support systems that help with emotional and mental well-being.
In short, truck drivers care about having good health benefits because their work is very hard on their health. Wellness initiatives and investment in driver wellness from employers (such as Melton's driver oasis) are important to truck drivers because they have unique and challenging health needs. When motor carriers invest in wellness for drivers, they improve the health of their employee population. This improves productivity because healthy employees are more productive than ill employees. What's more, health care costs for the employer and employees alike are reduced. The organization earns greater loyalty from its drivers because wellness programs show that the employer wants its employees to feel their best. Wellness program also are frequently incentivized, meaning participation can lower premiums for drivers.
Truck drivers care about benefits because they spend a lot of time away from home. Consequently, the spouses of truck drivers have to hold down the fort. This job is especially tough when there are children to care for, because the spouse at home is a single parent when her truck-driving husband is on the road.
Truck drivers care about having good benefits because if they can provide benefits for their families, their spouses may not have to work for benefits. This freedom is extremely meaningful to a family. The non-trucking spouse doesn't have to choose a job based primarily on the benefits it offers. The result is she can work any job she wants, benefits or no.
Truck drivers, like most employees, view benefits as part of a complete compensation. And like most employees, truck drivers want to earn as much money as possible at the right motor carrier. Better benefits can retain employees and attract new talent.
The driver shortage is a true crisis in this industry. Turnover is out of control, and firms are struggling to keep the drivers that already fill their seats. Providing employee benefits that drivers can brag about to their peers is a powerful recruiting tool. They talk to each other about their employers... don't you want them to advertise how much they care about their people? It's also important to consider that the cost of replacing a good driver who left over health benefits can be more expensive than the benefits themselves. Recruitment involves many costs: training, testing, time, etc.
Why do you think benefits matter to truck drivers? What benefits matter most? Please sound off in comments!