It’s a question we get every so often from trucking companies: “What do drivers think about uniforms?” But while looking for an answer might be on the minds of company execs, it’s interesting to note that in many cases, it’s not a hot topic for drivers, unless it specifically is, say, in times of extreme summer heat.
While uniforms would fall into the category of “equipment,” drivers have different priorities. They’re much more interested in ensuring their truck and its equipment work efficiently and, more recently, that they have the protective gear needed to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
That said, clothing may not seem like a big-ticket item for drivers or companies, but it may be an area where you gain traction and trust with your drivers. Read on as we shed some light on the topic.
Driver demographics have evolved over the years and are now more inclusive of women and minorities, but some stereotypes from outside the industry still persist.
When you see a truck driver pictured in a magazine or on TV, you often see someone who’s wearing comfy clothes. The stereotypical driver image is often wearing a worn-in flannel shirt with a pair of jeans.
The reality, though, doesn’t necessarily mesh with the stereotype. Drivers today come from all different backgrounds, with distinct and unique preferences. That shows up in their wardrobes, which vary a good bit from driver to driver.
While we don’t get much feedback about clothing, there is an overarching theme in the comments we do receive.
“There’s a bad perception that drivers do not care about their appearance,” says Katie Love, Marketing Manager at WorkHound. “But the feedback tells us that drivers want to appear professional and represent their company well.”
So, if drivers want to appear professional when they’re on the job, doesn’t that lend itself to the case for requiring uniforms? Maybe — maybe not.
Every company has specific factors to consider when determining whether a uniform or clothing policy would be beneficial. This often depends on the type of freight or product being hauled, for one.
A good bit of the feedback we receive about clothing comes from drivers who work for oil companies, or haul hazmat, who are often required to wear long sleeves and pants. Because the clothing requirements of that sort are dictated by insurance coverage or safety guidelines, open communication is important.
“If companies can find ways to better communicate about uniform needs, it’s beneficial,” Love says. “And companies can also take steps to make wearing specific clothing more comfortable. If long sleeves and pants are required, for example, a company needs to take extra care to ensure drivers’ AC units are functioning properly in the summer months so that drivers can stay cool.”
Because drivers, by and large, want a professional appearance when they represent your company, a uniform may be beneficial. But it doesn’t have to be a stringent uniform — it may be something as simple as requiring a company-provided shirt with the company logo on it.
A basic requirement such as that one allows drivers to appear clean, pulled together, and representative of your brand, without being uncomfortable.
Ultimately, what will work best for your business will depend on what your drivers want and need, so listening to them is a great first step. While a clothing policy may feel low on the priority list, it’s usually something that can be easily and quickly implemented or adjusted as needed.
“Even if your company isn’t getting a lot of feedback about clothing, this is an area where you can actually take quick action when you do hear from your drivers,” Love says. “Compare that with something about pay, which requires a lot of data to inform change.”
It’s a small thing that may have a big impact.
“It may not be the thing that causes drivers to leave,” Love adds, “but it could be the thing that keeps them from encouraging their buddies to join the company.”
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