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Driving Driver Fitness: 7 Tips for Wellness Program Success

driver fitnessANDREA TARRELL
HNI Marketing Director

Truck driver health and wellness is one of the wickedest problems facing the transportation industry today — and it has a staggering impact on health insurance and work comp spend. Consider that:

  • Drivers who have a BMI higher than 25 (overweight) are off work 13 times longer for a worker’s compensation claim than an injured driver with a healthy BMI.
  • We have an aging driver force. The average driver age today is 52.
  • Obese drivers have twice the crash rate per mile compared to healthy drivers.

Now that drivers have to be screened by a health professional on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, health is an important component of retention, too. Standards are getting tighter, and we can’t afford to lose drivers just because they can’t pass a physical test. In addition, sleep apnea continues to be a growing health concern, and there has been buzz about FMCSA regulation in the works for testing for this condition.

A Complimentary Resource to Kick-Start Your Driver Fitness and Wellness Program

Driver fitness certainly doesn’t come easy with all of the unique occupational demands drivers face on a daily basis. But to change the state of wellness we’re seeing, we need to change our approach.

To help the industry take on this problem, we’ve created a fun little tool to kick off or jump-start your wellness program. We’re calling it the “Well Driver Challenge.”

The Well Driver Challenge is a series of 12 driver fitness and wellness activities your fleet can take on while on the road, paired with simple tips to help change behaviors. Examples include:

  • Which fruits and veggies travel well in a truck
  • Driving ergonomics
  • Stretches for drivers
  • How to fit in exercise
  • Ways to boost emotional health

You can order free copies to share with your fleet at this link: http://hni.com/well-driver-challenge, or click the button at the bottom of this post.

Tips for Deploying the Challenge

If you are interested in using these booklets as part of your efforts to boost wellness for truck drivers, here are some tips for success:

1. Start by explaining why wellness is important — both to the individual driver and to the company.

Having a powerful message around why you’re committed to wellness goes a long way. When drivers see a sincere commitment to their well being, they feel valued and are likely to engage and perform at their highest level. Let drivers know that you care about them, and that their health is important to the success of the company.

2. If you don’t have a wellness committee, make this a cause of your safety committee.

Not all transportation companies have a wellness committee. If you don’t have one yet, the Well Driver Challenge is a great cause for your safety team to champion. Safety results are impacted by driver health, and it’s valuable to have multiple people supporting wellness efforts vs. all the burden falling on HR.

3. Offer additional information and programming to support each of the 12 challenge areas.

Make the challenge a team effort. Announce which challenge you’re taking on each week, and implement additional programming or communication to reinforce the message. For example, you could offer healthy snacks in the break room during the fruit and veggie challenge week, demonstrate ways to stretch/exercise while on the road, and so on.

4. Get a group of drivers involved in promoting it.

Generating some grassroots support is key. Having just one driver advocate or “cheerleader” will help get through to the audience and show other drivers that this can work for them, too. We’ve also seen companies find success with a visible leaderboard or list of who has competed the challenge — it sparks some healthy competition!

5. Show commitment from the top by having your leaders participate.

Employees tend to react more positively when they know that the executive team is committed and not just by paying lip service. Challenge your management to actually participate in the driver fitness contest themselves!

6. Offer an incentive to participate.

For those who need an extra incentive to take the challenge, we've sweetened the deal. Participants who share their success on HNI's Facebook or Twitter pages will be entered in a drawing for a FitBit Flex. A little extra perk of your own for drivers doesn’t hurt either. Cash, gift certificates, or discounts on company-branded merchandise are a few options to consider.

7. Use different media to get the message out.

Remind employees about the challenge often and through as many different channels as possible to help keep it top of mind. The monitor in driver room, payroll stuffers, short messages via in-cab communication devices, and posters are a few ideas for reminder communications.

Your Turn: How Have You Inspired Drivers to Get Healthy?

We hope that the Well Driver Challenge will be a tool to help organizations elevate awareness about driver health. What works for each company in wellness is a little bit different. The program needs to fit your culture, structure, and budget to succeed.

We want to know how you’ve deployed the challenge or what other activities you’ve had success with. What has worked in inspiring your driver population? What hasn’t worked so well? Please share in comments!

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Related Posts:

Wellness for Truck Drivers: What Makes This Problem So Wicked

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Building a Driver Wellness Program That Sticks

Benefits for Truck Drivers: The Secret Weapon for Retention

Melton Truck Lines Takes Innovative Approach to Driver Wellness

Photo by CrossFit Fever via Flickr

Topics: Transportation HR / Employee Benefits