The holiday season usually means added stress for most of us. But for truck drivers, the holidays can take stress to an entirely different level. This is because stress has a compounding effect, meaning that multiple stresses stacked on top of each other impact our physical and mental health to a far greater degree than the sum of the individual stressors.
Think about it: Take hazardous winter driving conditions, an irregular work schedule, lack of sleep, and the normal financial challenges, then add on top of that, time spent away from family on special occasions plus the additional financial demands of the holidays.
While we are all dealing with our own holiday stress, our truck drivers are dealing with far more stress than crowded malls, cooking for guests, or figuring out how to get along with in-laws for a few days. It’s also important to remember that they are transporting our holiday meals and gifts across the country – without them, we wouldn’t even be able to have the holidays as we know them.
What can fleets do to reduce the holiday stress of their drivers? Here are some simple, yet critical things:
1. Find out in advance which drivers are willing to work through the holidays. This will help ensure that drivers who request home time can really get home for the holidays. Obviously, this is not always possible with every single driver who requests home time, but make a real effort to get drivers home who have missed other holidays and special occasions earlier in the year.
Offer bonus holiday pay for drivers who work through the holidays or are not able to get home for the holidays. A little extra cash, especially at this time of year, goes a long way. Drivers not only feel appreciated, which reduces stress, but also will have less stress from the added financial demands the holidays bring.
Make sure each driver gets at least one phone call from your company wishing him or her a happy holiday season and saying thank you for their work. This is a good thing to do whether drivers are working on the holiday or enjoying it at home. Being a part of a family or community helps reduce stress and improve overall mental health. This simple gesture shows drivers they are part of your company family and community.
Work with your bank to offer drivers a “holiday savings plan,” where a small amount out of each check goes into an account they can only access the following year in December. This takes away a lot of the stress of having to pay for gifts when most people forget to save for this additional spending.
Send out a message to your fleet with tips for managing holiday stress. Truck drivers are resilient, but a kind reminder on ways they can reduce their own stress can be very helpful. Here are a few tips for drivers you can add:
- Be flexible and don’t over-stress about the holidays. If you can’t get home, maybe your family can gather before or after Christmas and make that your gift-opening day with a wonderful family meal.
- Connect with other drivers and wish them a happy holiday, especially drivers with no families. Focusing on helping others helps you reduce your own stress.
- Have an attitude of gratitude. We all have challenges, but we all have many things to be grateful for.