Fleet News

Employee benefits: rewarding drivers

HOW many company car drivers would reject the idea of money for nothing?

Rewarding drivers for saddling you with nothing costly during the year – such as having no accidents – could be an effective but controversial way of improving your fleet’s safety as well as saving costs.

It would mean incentives for not handing cars back that look like dustbins, not getting caught speeding or incurring parking fines, or having silly parking prangs that could be avoided with more care.

It is a controversial route because rewarding employees for merely driving as you would expect them to is a bit like giving them a bonus for turning up to work on time.

But with accident rates at many firms dangerously high and increasing numbers of drivers getting caught speeding, any weapon in the battle for safer roads and more efficient business is worth looking at.

There are several ways fleet managers can introduce initiatives to promote better driving.

Some of these will have to be agreed beforehand with either company directors or the human resources (HR) team and the rewards need to be handled carefully so drivers don’t incur additional tax bills.

Drivers could be offered incentives for several reasons.

For example, a prize for an accident-free year can have a significant effect when combined with the support and training drivers need to remain safe on the roads.

Targets could include zero accidents over a certain mileage, a reduction in the number of incidents or even rewards for successfully completing training.

Achieving fuel economy targets is another area where drivers could be rewarded.

Meeting the combined mpg figure on a vehicle can reduce fuel costs and proves that motorists are driving sensibly, avoiding harsh acceleration or sharp braking.

By keeping a record of individual mpg figures, fleet managers could reward drivers achieving the recommended target.

Incentives could also be given for handing back vehicles with undamaged interiors at the end of their fleet lives. This can benefit both outright purchased and leased fleets.

Contract hire and leasing companies charge for unfair wear and tear so keeping vehicles in pristine condition will lower fleet costs, some of which can be offset against rewards.

The charges are to offset lower-than-expected prices achieved at remarketing time, a problem that will also affect outright purchase fleets.

Several companies have already introduced ‘green’ initiatives such as encouraging cycling to work rather than using a company vehicle or car sharing schemes.

Here are some of the possibilities...

Flexitime

OFFERING flexible working hours or days off in lieu could be an incentive for drivers taking up green initiatives.

Fleet managers could offer flexible hours for drivers opting to cycle to work instead of using their company cars.

Vehicle choice lists could also be incentive-linked too.

A spokeswoman at Manchester-based recruitment company Connections says that one of its clients offers staff a free day off on their birthday.

If agreed by HR, this could be one way of rewarding drivers choosing vehicles with CO2 emissions below a certain level.

Suzanne Maher, a spokeswoman for the Disability Rights Commission, says that offering flexi-time is one of the key benefits that can also enable disabled staff to work.

Prestige rental

ONE perk for which drivers are likely to alter their behaviour is the chance to drive a luxury car for the weekend. Several daily rental companies offer prestige hire including Avis, Sixt Rent a Car and Enterprise.

Guy Salmon also provides luxury car hire for fleets and says that many companies like to give staff a memorable bonus or incentive rather than just money or vouchers as it creates a ‘lasting impression’.

Tracey Wraight, sales and operations manager at Guy Salmon, said: ‘We have seen a lot of business generated through companies offering a prestige car as an incentive or bonus.

‘Staff are often given a target for the month and if they reach it are given a luxury car such as a Porsche Boxster for a weekend. Basically it is offering something a little bit different.’

Cash bonuses

PERSISTENT driving offenders could be offered a cash bonus as a reward for improving their driving.

This is a difficult area, as well-behaved drivers might claim they are missing out for being good in the first place. So any scheme should reflect that and suitably reward them as well.

Again this would have to be pre-agreed with HR, but although monthly cash sums paid to drivers would be taken from the budget, the overall cost of reducing accidents could be significantly lower than the initial amount invested.

Jonathan Dobkin, a director at recruitment consultants Connections, said: ‘At the end of the day employees are purely interested in pounds, shillings and pence. Gym membership and travel incentives are all very well – but they’d far rather have a fatter pay packet.’

Gift rewards

COTTRILL’S, a firm providing reward packages for firms, has a number of programmes for staff motivation and retention through a variety of companies across the UK.

These range from pampering packages and white water-rafting days, to collecting points for gifts from their Aspirations brochure.

An employee can pick from a choice of more than 900 products including digital cameras, audiovisual, kitchenware and sports equipment. This kind of reward could be linked to hitting targets in a number of areas, such as lowering accident rates to handing back immaculate vehicles.

Connections offers its staff a weekend at a prestigious health farm, including meals, for employees who meet their monthly targets, again an initiative which could be adopted by fleets.

Other companies have opted for more obscure rewards and one of Connections’ clients offers employees a free turkey at Christmas. It may sound strange but fleet managers could introduce a similar scheme in the run up to Christmas to encourage safe winter driving.

Internal publicity

INTERNAL recognition can boost morale and self-esteem among drivers.

It is also a low-cost option and often a free way to reward skilful drivers.

Some fleets, especially delivery firms, already have driving league tables, perhaps based on accident rates or mpg averages related to official combined figures.

Drivers are given a target to hit and those regularly achieving it will be listed at the top of the table. An annual award could also be offered at the end of each year, along with a trophy and some form of financial reward.

Company newsletters, intranet sites, noticeboards and internal awards ceremonies are all avenues for in-house recognition. There are many ways to recognise good driver behaviour.

How fleets use rewards: case studies

Rewards point to safer drivers

COMPANY drivers at a Glasgow security firm Pointer were recently rewarded with gift vouchers of up to £100 as part of a major incentive scheme towards safer driving.

The vouchers started at £25 and were handed to drivers who had not been involved in any accidents and who met or bettered the targeted miles per gallon for their vehicle.

Hugh Lawson, learning and development manager at Pointer, said: ‘We are aware of the importance of recognising and rewarding good driving practice and have introduced the new reward scheme to further encourage and reward responsible driving.’

A bonus for taking the bus

A PHARMACEUTICAL company agreed to offer all staff £2 a day to leave their cars at home.

The Kent-based group organised subsidised bus and train services and staff also cycle into work. The company, which employs about 5,000 people, has also been running a pilot scheme for ‘cash instead of parking’.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, a company spokesman said: ‘It costs the company more than £2 a day to provide a parking space – for the security, planting, lighting, white line painting and so on – so in that way it’s cost neutral.

‘However, there will also be a ‘dead’ cost for those people who never came to work by car – they will now be entitled to the £2.’

Fleet’s sweet taste of success

UK confectionary group Thorntons is one of Transport Energy’s best practice case studies for its fleet management programme, which includes an incentive scheme for drivers.

The case study outlines how Thorntons has managed to save costs and reduce accidents as a result of an incentive scheme for drivers.

The group’s 48 drivers each belong to one of four teams of 12. Each team is led by its own transport leader. Each driver’s performance is measured over a 12-week period, which includes whether service targets have been met and if drivers are accident-free.

Driver performance is summarised in a published league table and drivers meet their transport leaders once a week for a debriefing.

The debriefing gives drivers the opportunity to explain any discrepancies that might have affected their recorded performance level – for example, heavy congestion on a motorway leading to late deliveries or an accident that was not the employee’s fault.

If drivers achieve the required level for each of the performance targets over the 12-week period, they receive a financial bonus, roughly equivalent to 5% of their earnings, over the following 12-week period.

The driver incentive scheme has paid dividends as driving performance and fuel efficiency have improved and Thorntons has indicated that the number of accidents for which its drivers are liable has also fallen.

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