Motivating Drivers through Recognition Programs: Part 1
Source: FleetAnswers In one of our earlier articles, we briefly covered strategies that fleet managers are using to reduce driver resistance to telematics and GPS tracking devices. This article delves deeper into the different types of strategies employed by fleet managers to recognize, reward, and promote good driving behavior as well as the approach that has worked best for many fleet managers.
Due to the well-known benefits of telematics and GPS technology, these systems are becoming more commonplace in today’s fleets. One of the uses of telematics that is gaining traction within the fleet community is the use of the technology to monitor driving behavior. Telematics systems are becoming more sophisticated at grading and reporting driver performance, making problem drivers easier to identify.
While the initial cost of driver monitoring systems may still be a hurdle for some companies, fleet managers who have adopted the technology reported a significant reduction in fuel consumption and emissions, vehicle idling, accidents claims, speeding incidents, and vehicle maintenance costs. In fact, adopters of such systems have reported return on investments from just fuel savings alone.
Despite the benefits of such systems, telematics and GPS technology is limited to being a reactive measure and can only go as far as to inform management actions. The system does not tell fleet managers what to do with the data and neither does it tell them the proactive measures they need to take to motive drivers and encourage good driving habits.
Carrot and Stick Approach
Fleet managers often refer to two approaches to encourage drivers – the carrot and the stick. The stick approach, where disciplinary actions are used to correct bad driving behavior, can be effective in the short term but may only work for a small proportion of the workforce. Since the worst performing drivers do not respect authority or rules to begin with, any improvement in driving behavior is often short lived.
The good news is the majority of fleet drivers respond well to safety training and generally want to do a good job. They will also likely be motivated by and benefit most from the carrot approach. Needless to say, the ability to strike a balance between the carrot and stick will determine success.
“The best systems (should) always reward and penalize at the same time,” Craig W., Operations Director at CBVC explained. He introduced a system where drivers had to pay a fine if they were at fault in an accident but were rewarded financially if they had zero accidents and received no complaints from customers. This system resulted in an improvement in fuel consumption and a 67% reduction in accidents.
On the other hand, Simon Watson, Business Manager at Ashwoods Lightfoot, argues that the best approach is still the carrot approach.
“The key (to a successful approach) is to empower the drivers and get their ‘buy in’ to any technology. The ‘carrot’ approach produces far better long term results,” He said. Watson explained that good driving behavior should be part of the drivers’ key performance indicator. “By empowering and rewarding the drivers, you can drive a positive culture and any reward scheme should be self-funding from the savings made,” Watson continued.
Creating Driver Incentive Programs
Having a driver incentive program demonstrates that the company values their drivers, which in turn can result in higher driver retention rates. As competition for fleet drivers remains high, along with a rising driver turnover rate, being able to retain qualified and good drivers will positively impact the company’s bottom line.
“Driver retention is a major issue with any company, and I truly believe the little things you do for a driver will pay off in the long run,” said Safety Officer Kevin Bergman. “Drivers love recognition and the more you recognize them, the higher they (will) think of the company.”
In order to recognize or reward good drivers, it is essential to have a comprehensive incentive or recognition program that clearly defines and measures good driving behavior.
Jim Backus, Fleet Safety and Regulatory Compliance Specialist at Backus & Associates, believes that every fleet manager who is considering an incentive program should consider the following (also courtesy of Safetyismygoal):
- What is the goal of your program?
- Why isn’t the goal being met now?
- Has the goal been clearly communicated to everyone involved in the program?
- Have the drivers been asked to provide input on the types of incentive(s) that would work?
- What are the metrics of measurement (I.e. What and how will you measure to determine success)
- What is the budget?
- What is the timeframe?
- Do you have a set of rules for achievement?
- Are these rules realistic?
- Have you provided the necessary training for everyone to understand and achieve?
- What are the possible side effects?
- Will upper management fully support the program?
Monetary versus Non-Monetary Programs
What type of incentive program works best for most fleets – Monetary or non-monetary programs?
Part two of this article will cover real-world incentives and recognition programs tried and tested by fleet managers as well as the approach that has worked best for them.