When your fleet is on the road, it’s impossible to directly supervise all your drivers. Although tools like dash cams and telematics systems enable you to pinpoint details like speed and location, there are still plenty of gaps. This is problematic because poor driving can ruin your fleet’s reputation and reduce revenue. So, how do you encourage drivers to consistently make smarter, safer driving choices? A driver safety incentive program is a great place to start.
Incentive programs also significantly improve driver retention. In 2020, driver turnover was at 92 percent. With the average cost of replacing a driver at $12,000, any initiative that increases driver happiness and engagement is bound to bring a healthy return on investment. Driver reward programs can also bolster training, improve fleet culture, and change driver behaviors for the better. Let’s discuss these benefits and explore how to create a program that works for your fleet.
Benefits of a Driver Incentive Program
What is a driver incentive program? Essentially, it’s a way to positively reinforce safe and productive driving behaviors through rewards and recognition. The best safety incentive programs are unbiased meritocratic systems that help fleets develop better relationships with their drivers. These are some of the biggest benefits:
- Reduced accidents and safer roadways
- Lower insurance premiums
- Reduced operating costs
- Increased productivity for both drivers and vehicles
- Improved driver motivation, morale, and retention
Steps to Build a Program
- Develop goals
The overall goals of every driver incentive program are improving fleet safety, increasing customer satisfaction, and boosting revenue. Make these goals concrete by identifying smaller steps to move toward them, like improving adherence to schedules, reducing harsh braking, avoiding idling, limiting phone usage, and following speed limits.
When selecting the behaviors to reward, make sure there’s a way to measure and track them over time. Data collection through telematics systems and vehicle sensors is a great way to monitor and analyze data. Tracking metrics ensures your program remains unbiased. In contrast, practices like random inspections are less likely to affect positive change.
Besides identifying goals, it’s also important to pinpoint your approach for rewarding safety in the workplace. Will you focus on driver excellence or driver improvement? Each focus can have unintended consequences. For example, if driver excellence is rewarded, then the same drivers may win all the time, and other drivers may get discouraged. Drivers may also be tempted to cheat on their reports, which will impact fleet data collection.
- Communicate expectations
To be successful, a safe driver recognition program must provide drivers with a detailed manual that clearly defines goals, rules, and benefits. Make sure it includes criteria for incentives, data gathering techniques, and how metrics will be weighed and tallied. To head off any driver concerns about processes or favoritism, be specific as possible. The manual should also include contact details for the person in charge of the program in case drivers have questions.
Communication doesn’t end after your driver incentive program is launched. Drivers should be regularly reminded about the program with flyers and during meetings. To keep drivers engaged, provide them with regular updates about their rank in each competitive category.
- Ask for driver feedback
Many fleets overlook the importance of driver feedback because they assume that drivers are unconnected to operations. However, there’s a lot of valuable information to be learned from drivers. So make sure to regularly ask drivers for their opinion about your safety incentives program. Anonymous online surveys can be as simple as two questions. And apps like SurveyMonkey make them easily accessible on mobile devices like smartphones.
- Utilize gamification
Gamification is a great way to increase participation in your truck driver bonus program by making safe driving fun and competitive. It harnesses the innate joy that comes from playing, competing, and winning. Gamification also makes safe driving an essential aspect of how drivers interact, helping build team spirit and a better safety culture.
Adding gamification to your incentives program is simple thanks to apps like Netradyne’s Driveri DriverStars® platform. DriverStars gives drivers immediate feedback, rewarding them with points for actions like obeying the speed limit and maintaining a safe following distance. These points add up to a driver’s total performance score—their GreenZone® score. Drivers can view their updated scores throughout the day via the mobile app, ensuring they have constant motivation to do better.
- Choose the right rewards
Ideally, your rewards should be tailored to match your fleet’s unique culture. So before choosing incentives for your driver rewards program, ask drivers for their input. While some incentive ideas may seem pricey, keep in mind that every prevented accident saves your fleet thousands of dollars. Incentives effectively function as driver retention bonuses—they ensure drivers stay motivated, loyal, and engaged. Here are some types of incentives:
- Cash bonuses
- Gift cards
- Pins, plaques, and jackets customized with the fleet’s name and logo
- Special privileges, like flexible work hours
You might also consider incentives that can be saved up, like points, and later exchanged for larger ticket rewards, like spa days, ski trips, and kitchen appliances.
- Share successes
For many people, cash bonuses and merchandise aren’t the most valuable reward for their achievements. Positive feedback and encouragement can be a highly important motivator. In fact, according to a Gallup survey, public acknowledgment via an award, certificate, or commendation is better than monetary rewards. So make sure that your safety incentive plan includes a strong driver recognition program.
In between major awards cycles, use email newsletters and internal memos to acknowledge drivers who are making exceptional progress. Launch a driver of the month program or provide some other type of incremental recognition for categories like “most improved.” And when recognizing your top performers, invite them to share their individual best practices and success stories at team meetings. Here are some additional recognition ideas:
- Best driver award certificates
- A public leader board to track individual or team performance
- Invite-only monthly lunches with leadership
Keep in mind that recognition is most impactful when it’s delivered promptly. The longer it takes for managers to recognize drivers, the less likely drivers will see their compliments as meaningful.
Drivers want to know their fleet cares about their personal safety. A well-designed driver rewards program not only reinforces a strong culture of safety, it also creates a positive environment where drivers feel that their improvement efforts are truly appreciated. This, in turn, boosts morale and loyalty. Before setting up a program, research driver incentive program examples to make sure you design a plan that’s successful from the start. And find a quality telematics solution to provide key driving metrics.