Driver rewards & recognition: Engagement & retention

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Why is it that the Stay Metrics non-cash driver rewards and recognition program is effective at increasing driver engagement and reducing turnover?

First, some background. In previous communications, the Stay Metrics research team shared an insight from the driver satisfaction surveys we manage for clients. According to our research, just over 20 percent of drivers feel their families are not well supported financially by their paychecks.

While pay remains an ongoing challenge for the trucking industry, and drivers should expect their jobs to provide basic financial security; the research also reflects that it is unlikely that all workers in any profession will be totally satisfied with their income.

But there’s another way to look at the results. A real takeaway is that the data suggests 80 percent of drivers do have a sense of financial security. But they are likely seeking more.

According to psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needs, people engage in a profession for more than money; they do it to feel respected and gain recognition. Our evidence-based driver rewards and recognition program is specifically designed to engage drivers and encourage loyalty to their carrier.

Workforce engagement can be measured in different ways, but ultimately the results boil down to employee retention. Stay Metrics is able to measure driver engagement by tracking use of the custom-branded driver rewards and recognition platform we administer for clients and comparing driver engagement data to the driver turnover data we collect.

In December 2015, our team examined this relationship for more than 22,000 drivers in the Stay Metrics driver database, the study shows that engaged drivers — those who log in more frequently to their carrier’s custom-branded rewards site — are more than twice as likely to remain with their carriers as the unengaged drivers.

Why driver rewards work

Rewards programs are widely used by retailers to retain loyal customers and encourage repeat business. The programs work by gathering purchase data to tailor coupons and marketing campaigns towards specific customer desires.

Tiered rewards programs from the airlines, hotels, and casinos tend to be even more effective at retention and engagement. These companies bestow a status to frequent users that come with a hierarchy of privileges like “free” upgrades to first class and upgraded hotel rooms.

Status, privilege, and recognition have a powerful effect on the human ego. It is not easy to let go of these benefits by taking your business elsewhere.

Rewards programs can have the same effects on drivers. It is common for fleets to offer cash rewards and incentives for performance. Cash, or cash equivalents like fuel vouchers for owner operators, satisfy a personal or business need. But cash rewards will be viewed by drivers as part of their compensation. Any variability can be a point of contention.

Cash incentives serve a purpose, but there are plenty of other opportunities to reward and recognize drivers for their contributions. Stay Metrics encourages clients to use a point-based system where drivers redeem the points on items they want, but might not otherwise buy on their own.

For example, a driver might redeem points for a birthday gift — everything from a book or DVD or children’s toy; or save them for a 55″ flat-screen TV or a vacation cruise. As gifts are given; or items placed on a “wish list” the driver’s family becomes involved with the program. Imagine the goodwill created by the carrier when a driver takes a Carribean cruise with points earned in the program. Family members become engaged in the program, they, in turn, advocate for the driver staying with the company, since leaving means losing the points, recognition, and status the driver has earned.

To be clear, a driver rewards program is not a substitute for income. It represents a conscious and sincere effort by the carrier to recognize drivers for the contributions they make which might otherwise go unnoticed. Examples include rewarding points for turning their paperwork in on time, for not making logbook errors, for driving safely, for tenure milestones, and much more. Carriers customize the rewards program to focus on the “Metrics that Matter” for carrier and driver success.

Making it a success

Engagement builds as drivers see their points accumulate and start to redeem them on the driver rewards. A simple strategy to build momentum is to put a PC in a driver’s lounge with the homepage set to the company rewards site.

Drivers can use the rewards site is on any device – laptops, tablets, smartphones. One way to help drivers get in the habit of visiting the site is to remind them to log-in when they come through the office and have them earn points by answering a safety question or watching a training video. Our research has shown significant increases in safety training participation; including one carrier that doubled participation when points were rewarded. Carriers have many communication vehicles — in-cab messages; newsletters, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and more — to promote the program to their drivers. Publicizing the rewards the drivers select is also an excellent communication strategy.

Gamification adds another dimension. Drivers are by nature competitive and seek the status and social recognition that comes from earning the top spot on the leaderboard.

A rewards platform also provides an opportunity to recognize drivers more frequently and in new categories that set you apart. With the Stay Metrics online program, drivers are automatically notified when points are added, prompting them to go online regularly to view company news and announcements while tracking their progress towards items on their wish lists.

Besides engaging drivers, the program is designed to be a data collection tool for management to gain valuable feedback from drivers on what they can do to make the company a better place to work. To schedule a demo of the rewards site or to learn more, visit http://staymetrics.com/request-a-demo/.

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