Stephen Watson, director of product at Microlise, offers his take on the key factors fleets should consider when designing driver incentivisation schemes
You’ve got to measure it to manage it: that’s as true in road transport as it is in any walk of life. Telematics lets you understand how drivers are performing, but it is up to you and your operation to decide what you do with that information to effect change.
So what are the key things to consider when designing an incentive programme to motivate your drivers to improve?
Let’s not beat around the bush – cash can play an important role. In the case of driving, where rewards can be closely linked to positive outcomes, financial incentives can work very well.
If, for example, fuel reduction is objective number one, you could give your drivers with the best idling scores each month a cash bonus and it should have the desired effect of lowering consumption. That said, be cautious not to overuse this method, as it can lead to a transactional approach and may mean you’ll overlook other motivational tools. In more complicated scenarios it will not be effective.
A 2013 study of more than 1,000 workers by the Institute of Leadership and Management found that cash is not always the most effective incentive to increase motivation. Furthermore, in a 2016 survey, the Incentive Research Foundation found that 81 per cent of UK companies are using non-cash rewards to improve productivity and morale among other things.
We would suggest taking the time to understand what your drivers value, and where possible offering this as a reward for hitting targets. Consider giving your best-performing drivers something that money can’t buy, like the option to choose the routes they’ll drive, or the shifts they work. Alternatively, a day out for them and their family could also work well.
Don’t just have one big winner every month; have many winners getting a share of the success. This way drivers feel they are in with a greater chance of taking something home, and will try harder to improve.
It’s often overlooked, but feeling appreciated goes a long way. Rewarding drivers isn’t necessarily just about getting an extra infusion of cash at the end of the week, or month, or even non-cash rewards. Often it is about being recognised for a job well done. A simple thank you from the boss goes a long way towards increasing motivation and morale.
Be clear on the rules
Letting drivers know exactly what the rules of engagement are, and what rewards are for, is critical. You will risk demotivating the team if some drivers are recognised and others are not, without clear reasoning. There should always be specific and unambiguous rules, and when drivers meet the required criteria, they should be rewarded without any fuss.
Focusing on one or two aspects of driving, like measured acceleration and idling, or anticipation and cruise control, will mean drivers ‘get it’ and trainers can more effectively educate the team.
It’s tempting to set a ‘pie in the sky’ objective, with the hope that even if drivers get 70 per cent of the way towards attaining it, then the improvement will be worth it. But making targets this difficult to achieve will inevitably mean that drivers disengage with the process and may stop trying.
Introducing league tables is another obvious way of achieving better driver engagement. Who wouldn’t want the recognition that comes with topping the table? You can decide which factors are most important to you and your operation, then gear the table to that. Efficiency is often the most important factor, but focusing on driving style can result in financial benefits and a reduction in accident rates too.
Give drivers access to their own performance grades and they will take more responsibility for improving. Systems like the Microlise Driver Performance Management (DPM) app give access to overall grades and enable them to drill down to look at their scores across key performance indicators such as speeding, idling and harsh braking.
They can even get tips and advice on how to improve, and the ability to view the location of any infringements on a map.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything you need to consider – but if you consider the items on this checklist you’ll certainly be on the right path to designing an effective incentivisation programme.
Microlise has an experienced in-house Benefits Realisation team, available to support customers with their deployment of telematics and fleet technologies – since installing the technology is just part of the journey towards improving productivity, safety and fleet effectiveness.