Hometime for the Holidays…

It’s crazy to think about, but the holiday season is here again. While it seems like only yesterday that 2021 got underway, the calendar is quickly flipping toward 2022. And that means we’re all thinking about hometime for the holidays.

The holiday season is a frantic one for many people. Take the normal everyday responsibilities of life into consideration, then add a bunch of other to-dos to the list…shopping for gifts,  planning seasonal events, and even brainstorming next year’s personal resolutions or business goals.

This time of year can be stressful for anyone. But for professional drivers, the holiday season can be one filled with abundant challenges.

The good news, though, is that trucking carriers can proactively take steps to anticipate those challenges and help drivers navigate them. Here’s a look at how your company can prepare.

Sign up for our newsletter

Adding Stress to Stress

The role of a truck driver can be a stressful one at any time of year. Drivers often experience mental health struggles, compounded by long, lonely days on the road and limited time spent with loved ones.

Now, imagine feeling lonely or isolated during the holiday season — a time of year that’s heralded as one of coming together with those we love. That’s often the driver’s reality.

And there’s an additional source of stress this time of year. Even in a “normal” year, drivers face the challenge of getting from point A to point B with in-demand resources while also dealing with an influx of holiday traffic.

“One of the realities of the holiday season is that there are more travelers on the roads,” says Katie Love, Marketing Manager at WorkHound. “We’re all guilty of being impatient and inconsiderate around truck drivers, potentially cutting them off, and then add the potential of inclement weather. That adds stress to an already stressful job.”

This year, those stressors will be magnified, given that drivers are already under an immense amount of pressure to deliver. As the nation deals with supply chain issues and mounting frustration from businesses and consumers over delays, that strain makes its way to the drivers themselves.

“During this time of year, we expect loneliness and seasonal affective disorder,” Love says. “It’s going to add stress and strain to a group of people who are already burnt out.”

How Carriers Can Alleviate Some of the Pressure

What do your drivers need from you this time of year? The overwhelming answer is home time.

Given that one of drivers’ biggest mental health challenges relates to being away from their loved ones, giving them time off the road to be with their families is invaluable.

“We get a lot of feedback about drivers wanting home time — not necessarily for Christmas Day, but at any time during the holiday season,” Love says. “They’re sharing when they’re thankful for home time and also sharing disappointment when they’ve been promised home time and it doesn’t happen.”

Because scheduling time off for drivers can be a logistical challenge, put in the effort early to show drivers you’re paying attention to their needs and taking action.

“Look proactively for opportunities to get drivers home,” Love says. “It may not be possible to do it on the actual holidays, but look for the times to get them there. The earlier you can do this, the better. Sometimes companies only let drivers know a couple days ahead of time, which makes it hard to plan.”

It’s also important for trucking companies to demonstrate their appreciation for drivers in other ways this time of year. The job can be a hard and tedious one, but knowing they’re valued can make it easier for drivers to handle being on the road.

For some companies, that may take the form of a year-end bonus, while for others, providing drivers with something as simple as a holiday ham or turkey can be a true blessing and appreciated gesture.

But the biggest thing a company can do? Invest your own time in ensuring your drivers are OK.

“Look for additional opportunities to communicate with drivers and check on them,” Love says. “A lot of companies make it a habit to only check in with drivers if they need something or if something is broken, but it’s important to reach out at least once a week. Search for ways to positively affirm their work for the company and the fact that you value their work.”

Communicating with your drivers is even more important during the holiday season. But burnout is more prevalent than ever during the added holiday stress. Learn how to take care of your drivers with the Burnout Guide.