While it’s true the UK is experiencing a severe shortage of HGV 1 Drivers, things might be looking up. The number of open Driver roles dropped slightly in the first quarter of this year, while the number of practical HGV tests undertaken increased by 43%.
But the news isn’t as good when it comes to the satisfaction of those currently in the field. According to our inaugural survey of over 400 Drivers across the Midlands and South Yorkshire region, 53% are considering leaving the industry. There are several reasons behind this, but one is related to a desire for better management, with one in six Drivers saying their immediate employer impacts their mental health at work.
Thankfully, Drivers also shared their most desired Manager traits and we present those here, in the hopes it will assist you in retaining the valued staff you have, as well as with new candidate attraction.
According to our survey, flexible working hours top the list of the most desired Driver benefits (37%). But the wish for better management took out second place at 35%, beating both vehicle and mobile phone allowances (27% and 22% respectively) and career development (23%).
Interestingly, a hope for a better company culture followed very closely behind (18%), something that is inextricably linked with good management. Delving a little deeper into what Drivers desire in their leaders, these were the top five most-wished-for traits:
The bottom five most-desired traits were:
In light of these results, let’s now turn to what you can do as a Manager to enhance your employee experience and attract new candidates.
Towards the end of our Driver’s Pay Guide – East Midlands and South Yorkshire 2022, we asked Drivers if they would recommend their job to others. While it’s a simple question, it had the potential to reveal their level of job satisfaction. The result was somewhat surprising with a close to 50/50 split (51% yes, 49% no).
It seems that some tweaks within the industry, specifically around what you offer as a company, could quite easily tip the balance. What follows are some suggestions for improving your company culture and management style.
Our survey results clearly show that Drivers want Managers that are supportive, fair and lead by example. Take some time to consider your management style and how it measures up against each of these traits. For instance, do you encourage staff to look after their well-being but fail to take breaks yourself? Do you find yourself being overly concerned about Driver details (routes they take, the stops they make etc.)?
There are a host of ways you can be a supportive Manager. One is by riding with Drivers to help you understand the day-to-day issues they face while on the road. As long as you frame it as a chance to experience the realities in the hopes of being able to help, it can go a long way towards building trust and opening up lines of communication (two vital elements in good management support).
Over half of Drivers surveyed in our Driver’s Pay Guide said too many hours at work was the biggest factor affecting their mental health. When Drivers have excessive workloads and tight targets to meet, this impacts them physically and mentally (back and leg issues, tiredness, stress and so on).
While it’s important to do a review of their current workloads, seeking their direct feedback is also a wise move. You might view a particular schedule as appropriate but in reality, it could be entirely unachievable without risking physical and/or mental health. By adjusting workloads and aiming to make process improvements, you may see a rise in Driver productivity, especially given they’ll be adequately rested and less stressed.
As a Manager, you are a key cog in your company’s culture wheel. A great way to enhance it is to foster an open environment that embraces and encourages feedback. Cultivate a space where you regularly share the company’s roadmap, but also invite feedback from employees without fear of repercussion or reprisal. After all, your employees are on the frontline and in the best position to provide valuable and highly relevant feedback.
Once received, you can then promptly address any frustrations or worries with salaries, workloads, deadlines, colleagues or management before they become deep-seated and lead to staff leaving (or at least provide reasoning if you can’t address them). You can also consider multiple feedback channels, from direct to anonymous, such as employee engagement surveys which a professional recruiter can help you design and deploy.
Recognition helps employees feel valued, and this has natural flow-on effects on their motivation, confidence and productivity. There are many ways to show your employees appreciation for their hard work. It can be as simple as a call to thank them while they’re on the road, or company-wide communications highlighting particular Drivers and work well done.
Consider Driver of the Month awards, paid team lunches, an ‘open house’ event at the terminal for their families, gift certificates, extra holiday leave, time-in-lieu, bonuses or even truck upgrades. These could include things like small items such as ergonomic pillows or an audiobook subscription, or bigger equipment. For employees keen to upskill, you can pay for additional certifications or training.
While having a regular recognition and reward program in place will do wonders for Driver engagement and productivity, it can also help you develop a reputation as an employer of choice – an essential for candidate attraction.
As you can see, there is much you can do to align your management style and company culture to the desires of HGV 1 Drivers in a talent-tight market. If you need support in achieving this or with new Driver recruitment, please feel to get in touch with one of our QS Recruitment specialists.
You might also like to download the full copy of our Driver’s Pay Guide – East Midlands and South Yorkshire 2022, as it contains lots of interesting information about pay rates, bonuses and benefits, job satisfaction trends and more.