September 25, 2020
September highlights a week where we focus on an appreciation for truck drivers and it would be understated to say that 2020 has given new meaning to Driver Appreciation. While fleets across the nation are celebrating their drivers, so too is the general public. The entire country has turned its attention to the heroes on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic and along with healthcare workers, it is the truck drivers who are putting their lives on the line to deliver critical supplies and food to a nation in desperate need. So, this year, we applaud our drivers with more exuberance than usual with particular gratitude for their services. We also acknowledge the sacrifices they continue to make amidst a pandemic causing disruption in supply chains, healthcare, and within our own families.
What the past 6 months have taught us is that safety is primary, and compassion is essential in getting through the most challenging time many of us have faced in our lives. Our ability to adapt as the obstacles continue to hinder routine. Disruption in the trucking industry has been magnified in the trucking industry as fleets face not just a global pandemic but a critical need to deliver on a demand for essentials as families continue to struggle in a fragile economy, increased unemployment, and racial tension. Much of it is out of our control but there are some very real things that we can control, and they are the key to a culture that provides optimism, empathy, and confidence.
Cultivating Culture and Shaping Brand
What exactly is culture and how does it take shape? The answer is not that complicated, but it does not happen overnight. First, you need to define your culture and then you need to infuse it into everything you do—in your communications, in your policies, and most importantly, in your actions. Your culture should be influenced by your values and what you stand for. It should be shaped by the internal team and embraced by everyone. Culture is brand and brand is your platform for communication and behavior.
3 Key Components of Brand
How Brand Translates to Culture?
If leadership does not demand and represent a strong and positive culture, the brand will suffer. It’s that simple. However, culture should not be dictated by leadership alone. How culture translates to action requires a strategy and everyone should be given ownership. Just like any kind of build, brand culture needs a plan of action. Your brand platform should inform everything you do but tangible action is part of the architecture. Let’s look at how culture is nurtured within the daily operations of the company using Safety as an example.
1. Leadership and Innovation Often you hear of safety as one of the values of the company but that is not necessarily how it should be considered. Safety should in the DNA of any trucking company. It is bigger than a single company value, but how it is handled will be informed by the brand platform and guided by culture. If safety is a priority at all levels of the organization, the commitment will be seen in the tone that the leadership sets so that the rest of the company believes in the integrity and importance of the actions. Those actions could entail proper and consistent vehicle and equipment maintenance, robust communication tool,s or innovative systems to keep everyone safe in a challenging environment.
2. Safety Tools Should Benefit the Driver and the Company Holding drivers accountable is important but it takes a particular approach to be successful. Holding drivers accountable fairly and effectively comes easier when the drivers are as receptive of accountability as fleet management is. Changing driver behavior should be a strategy and not a threat. While Vehicle telematics and on-board video can be helpful, it should be treated with respect and used as a tool to benefit both the driver and the company. Showing that the company cares about the root causes of the issues and using the safety tools for learning and training will go much further in shaping a positive culture than using the tools for punishment or reprimand.
3. Technology, Innovation, and Continuous Improvement The benefit of a strong safety culture shows that the company is continually trying to be better and safer. According to EHS Daily Advisor, a magazine for safety executives,
“to develop a safety culture, an organization must be informed and continually learning. This involves agreeing on ways to analyze incidents and wanting to learn from near misses before they become accidents.”>
Implementing innovative but proven safety techniques, illustrate that the company cares as much about investing in the driver as they do about the company. Dedication in a state-of-the-art safety environment will lead to a culture that embraces the tools and the approach.
4. Transparency for Open Engagement The most important aspect of a strong culture is honesty and transparency in communications. So, when it comes to safety, employees and drivers need to be completely comfortable voicing any concerns. They should be given opportunities to help shape the safety protocols and provided ownership to increase their level of engagement within the organization, in turn, strengthening the culture.
5. Safety Includes Mental Health In the transportation industry, safety almost always refers to the vehicles on the road, but a strong culture should also respect and be attentive to other safety concerns and areas to acknowledge. Coping with stress and mental health should be addressed just as seriously as telematics and video for recording driver behavior in the cab. Truck drivers are at a greater risk for mental health and psychiatric disorders due to high stress, low access and use of health care, and limited social support. A recent study of male drivers between the ages of 23 and 76 showed the following:
Surveyed truckers were found to have significant issues affecting their mental health, such as loneliness (27.9%), depression (26.9%), chronic sleep disturbances (20.6%), anxiety (14.5%), and other emotional problems (13%).
These results demonstrate how critical it is to promote assessment, and treatment for mental health as a priority to improve the health of the employees, drivers, and the culture of the company.
Appreciation for a Lifetime
Safety is just one example of how a company can shape and nurture the culture through acknowledgment and action. When leadership cares about company employees, that care is reflected at all levels of the organization. Consistent reinforcement of company values through action is key in commanding a sense of ownership and pride which leads to a strong culture making the company stronger and business better.
So, let’s all take some time not for a week but for a lifetime to show the respect and appreciation to the 3.5 million professional men and women who deliver our goods safely, securely, and timely. Because of their dedication, we can keep the country moving together.