If you’re like many people, it’s a struggle to get back into the swing of things in the new year. Drivers, though, could be dealing with something much more severe than a case of the back-to-work blues. Post-holiday burnout is a real phenomenon, and when left unchecked, it can dramatically reduce job performance, job satisfaction, and ultimately, retention. Here’s how you can help struggling drivers recover and restore.
Signs of Burnout: What Should Fleet Managers Look For?
We all endure periods of stress that feel unmanageable and have a significant impact on our day-to-day lives. Burnout, though, is a different beast. It’s caused by prolonged mental, emotional and physical drain, typically as a result of one’s professional environment. Burnout zaps your energy and can make even the most mundane tasks feel overwhelming.
An American Psychological Association survey revealed that 60% of adults experience negative impacts as a direct result of work-related stress. The most common issues included:
- Physical exhaustion (cited by 44% of respondents)
- Mental weariness (cited by 36% of respondents)
- Emotional exhaustion (cited by 32% of respondents)
- Difficulty maintaining interest and motivation (cited by 26% of respondents)
- Lack of effort in the workplace (cited by 19% of respondents).
These startling results are clear indications that burnout can have massive impacts on both your drivers and the success of your business. If your drivers demonstrate any of these behaviors, it’s time to give them the support they need – and quickly.
Simple Ways to Address Post-Holiday Driver Burnout
Prioritize Self Care
Reducing burnout starts by putting one’s physical needs first. This is especially true for fleet drivers who may already struggle to balance their demanding workload with a healthy lifestyle.
Ensuring your drivers get adequate rest is arguably the most important step to reduce or eliminate burnout. Downtime doesn’t always equal relaxation – insist that your drivers maximize breaks with quality sleep whenever and wherever possible. Even a 20-30 minute nap can improve mood, concentration and alertness.
Diet is another major driver of energy levels and mental clarity, but nutritious meals can be few and far between. Snack foods (especially high-protein options) can help to fill that gap. Encourage your fleet to keep a stash of non-perishable healthy choices in their vehicles, such as:
- Trail mix or granola
- Dried fruit
- Nuts and seeds
- Cheese and yogurt
- Protein bars
Drivers should also maintain a healthy supply of water or hydrating sports drinks.
Plan Realistic Schedules
Was the end of the year chaotic for your drivers? The start of the new year shouldn’t be. Adjust driver schedules to give your busiest team members a breather when possible. Is there a way to shorten a route or prioritize local trips? Can you reassign a particularly long route to another driver? Doing what you can to optimize scheduling like paying particular attention to your team’s preferred routes, working days and hours are great morale boosters.
Practice Stress Reduction Techniques
Commercial driving is an inherently stressful job. Often, the most frustrating parts are out of a driver’s control. There’s no way to clear traffic, get the careless commuter to keep their eyes on the road or stop the chatty teenager from texting behind the wheel. Stress management techniques can help drivers manage these high-tension situations, ensuring their trip is as calm as it can be.
Encourage your drivers to:
- Take deep, long breaths
- Listen to something engaging and uplifting like a favorite song or
- Distance themselves from aggressive or unsafe motorists
Diversify Your Driving Routine
The same-old routes and same-old hours are a recipe for boredom. Remind your drivers to switch things up however they can — try out a different restaurant, start a new audiobook or find a fun souvenir to bring home to a loved one. Simple changes can add novelty to the mundane and make the driver’s overall experience more enjoyable.
Build a Year-Round Retention Strategy
The best driver burnout reduction strategy is simple — prevent it from happening in the first place. Tools like self-care, optimized scheduling, stress reduction are all valuable, but they pale in comparison to a long-term focus on driver satisfaction. In today’s tight labor market, businesses must do everything in their power to retain and satisfy their existing employee base. Our driver retention checklist provides actionable, no-nonsense tips that you can implement as early as today. Click the link below to download your free copy.