Tips For Companies Looking to Onboard New Truck Drivers

Onboarding is the process by which a company incorporates new employees into the workforce. Every industry has unique onboarding standards. Employees need to become familiar with company policy, their own duties, safety procedures, company culture, and much more. Without proper onboarding practices, a company leaves the performance and happiness of new employees up to chance to an unacceptable degree.

The trucking industry has a reputation for individual employee freedom, but large companies actually keep a rather tight leash on the activities of their employees. They do, after all, have quotas to meet and laws to abide. The trucking industry has its own onboarding standards that most logistical companies follow. Here are a few tips designed to make the onboarding process more smooth, more humane, and more effective. Happy truckers are effective truckers. Happy and knowledgeable truckers are even more effective at delivering loads on time safely. 

Incorporate Safety into All Material 

Many drivers will, quite understandably, roll their eyes when it comes time to sit through the boring mandatory safety training sessions their employers insist they attend. Safety, however, is incredibly important. Commercial trucks are involved in a huge amount of accidents on American roads. In 2020, there were more than 4000 fatalities involving large trucks – up by 1 percent compared to the previous year. Simply getting new drivers to sit through a briefing before signing a document outlining their responsibilities or taking a short test will not fully ensure safety. Instead, safety should be woven like a thread through all of the material and training given during the onboarding process.

Safety can and should be seen as an essential value in your trucking company as opposed to just a requirement. Make sure to instil a sense of pride in spotless safety records and use it as one of the cornerstones of all positive internal messaging. Remember: the onboarding process should never leave drivers feeling like they have jumped through hoops. 

Help With Paperwork

For such a physical job, truck driving involves a huge amount of paperwork. Drivers that are new to a company have to fill out licensing papers, proof of citizenship, insurance papers, and a whole lot more before they can hit the road with a trailer full of important goods. The completion of this paperwork – which is usually awash with legalese – can seriously slow down the onboarding process and detrimentally impact drivers’ experience of working for a company before they have even delivered a single load. 

In order to counter the negative impact of paperwork and maintain a good relationship with new drivers, it is necessary to provide as much help as possible with paperwork. This can be done by assigning administrative staff to help out or by assigning other, more experienced truck drivers in a buddy system to help new arrivals breeze through their boring (but essential) admin duties. 

Treat Drivers Like Human Beings 

All too often, drivers are treated like numbers during the onboarding process. They are moved swiftly between briefings and asked to sign things they are not given sufficient time to understand. They are inundated with requests that they cannot possibly remember right off the bat. 

Drivers need to be treated like human beings. Think of actions taken during the onboarding process as being added like weights to a scale. One side of the scale represents negative, dehumanising interactions that decrease a driver’s respect for a company. The other side of the scale represents affirming, positive interactions that increase the engagement of the driver with their employer. It is vitally important that all onboarding processes place more weight on the positive side of the scales. 

All drivers must be given individual attention during the onboarding process. Failure of drivers to keep up with briefings should not lead employers to decry them as total failures before they even begin work. The processes associated with onboarding must be made as human as possible. 

Buddy Drivers Up

The best staff members to help bring a new driver into the fold are experienced drivers. Consider setting up a buddy system in which experienced drivers are paid to help individual newcomers get used to the particularities of the company. Experienced drivers will be able to offer genuine insight into the day-to-day work associated with trucking for the company and are able to report back truthfully to senior staff regarding the progress and performance of their buddies. The buddy system is widely regarded as being a highly effective training and onboarding strategy.