The sunny optimist he was notwithstanding, whenever someone floated an overly rosy view of anything before him, my late uncle, Eddie Kallaway, would smile and let the realist in him declaim, “Pal, that and 50 cents will get you a cup of coffee.”
The price of a cup of Joe has climbed a tad since I last had the pleasure of hearing him say that, but some things stay the same and just like then, just like always, there is no free lunch.
It can be surmised that one big reason Schneider National is so big is that it knows how to treat its truck drivers right and will spend accordingly to help meet their job-specific needs
Part of that approach certainly entails skipping altogether empty “feel good” gestures that don't resonate with drivers who deal with a challenging work environment day in and day out and have little patience for tomfoolery, corporate or otherwise.
Rather, building a lasting positive connection with drivers means being willing to invest time, thought and money into designing and implementing programs that will directly improve their quality of life, be it with higher pay, improved working conditions or as in this case, an innovative benefit.
Recognizing where its drivers spend the lion's share of their time - yes sir, that would be out on the road - Schneider National has gone out on a limb and begun offering health services to them right at the fleet's 12 Operating Centers (company-owned truckstops) located across North America.
Schneider has inked a multi-year deal with Atlas Ergonomics, an ergonomic service and technology provider (www.atlasergo.com), to provide drivers a range of no-cost health services, including blood-pressure monitoring, diet and nutrition counseling, exercise education and even physical therapy.
Each Schneider center is staffed by full-time, certified physical and occupational therapists trained to work one-to-one with drivers. The therapists are also charged with providing expert referrals for other health challenges drivers often face, such as sleep disorders and smoking cessation, as well as personal and family issues.
To help make the program streamlined for drivers accessing it, the dozen in-house clinics are tied together through an electronic medical-records system.
This way, according to Schneider, if a driver moves, their records move with them and if treatment is started at one location, it can be maintained at another to let the driver maintain a normal work schedule.
“Our success depends on our drivers,” states Wendy Sullivan, Schneider's occupational health manager. “These hardworking people struggle with the same health issues as you and me. But their situations are often made worse because they're away for extended periods without easy access to health services.”
Drew Bossen, executive vp of Atlas, rightly points out that Schneider's approach is “unique and proactive-and demonstrates deep commitment to employees and their families. Other organizations respond to employees bringing issues forward,” he notes, “but the goal of this program is to seek out potential problems and make finding a solution as simple as possible.”
Bossen points out that one example of this active approach is the comprehensive “discomfort surveys” drivers will fill out to help Atlas “pinpoint specific problems and provide immediate help.”
Schneider and Atlas also report they plan to expand both the program's services and locations
Certainly, it can be expected that Schneider drivers and their families will benefit directly from the professional health care and health advice they are gaining from this exceptional program. And it's no leap to assume these drivers will appreciate what their employer is doing for them — at absolutely no charge.
“Our goal is to make caring for our drivers and their families as easy and effective as possible,” Schneider's Sullivan adds. “By doing so we are able to better support our people and our values.”