Why it’s important for drivers to have work-life balance

August 25, 2021 Christina DeBusk

A truck driver who is happy because he enjoys a healthy work-life balance

Seventy-two percent of U.S. employees say that work-life balance is very important to them. Yet, more than half (60%) admit that finding and keeping some type of equilibrium between their job and home life is a struggle. What happens if the person who is grappling with this issue works as a driver?

Effects of poor work-life balance for drivers

One piece of research sought to find the answer by questioning 1,992 truck drivers about their work schedules, sleep behaviors, and symptoms of excessive fatigue. It found that reduced sleep during the workweek—whether due to working long days, working overtime or working night shifts—was associated with a “marked increase in fatigue.”

The authors indicated that this problem was especially important for truck drivers as they have the highest risk of overwork-related cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease.

What makes this especially troubling is that drivers are already at a disadvantage both mentally and physically, again, mainly because of their work schedules.

For example, one study reports that working irregular shifts causes this group of employees to have a high rate of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Another study found that a driver’s typical work schedule can also impact their psychoemotional health.

Low work-life balance equals increased turnover

Poor work-life balance doesn’t only impact the health of the driver. If the scales are tipped too much to the work side of things, it can also cause them to quit their job. A 2019 Bustle survey found that almost 40% of the respondents decided to leave an employer because they didn’t have a desirable balance between home and work.

A high turnover rate can prevent companies from meeting delivery deadlines. This can cause irreparable damage to the business’s reputation. Constantly training new drivers is also costly at an expense of $7,000 to $27,000 per employee according to one piece of research, the exact amount depending on how much training the driver needs and orientation-related costs.

So, with every driver that has to be replaced, the company’s profit margin decreases even more.

With balance comes happiness

Providing drivers adequate time at home can also increase their levels of happiness. They don’t feel like they are living just to do their job. Instead, their schedule allows them the ability to take an active role in their home life too.

This can relieve some of the stress on their spouses or partners as well because they’re able to handle a few of the home obligations, resulting in stronger and better relationships.

A happy employee is a productive employee. They have a more positive, can-do attitude. They are also more willing to put their time in at work because they’re getting enough time at home.

Improving drivers’ balance between home and work

There are a few things employers can do to promote better work-life balance for their drivers. These include:

  • Making it easier to stay in touch with loved ones. If your drivers are working long days, giving them the ability to keep in communication with home can help them stay connected. This could be as simple as making sure they take regular breaks to check in with a quick phone call, or it might involve equipping your fleet with Bluetooth technology so they can talk while they drive.
  • Being flexible with scheduling when you can. Some deliveries must be made within a certain time frame. But if there is any flexibility in delivery time, being flexible with your drivers’ schedules can allow them to participate more at home without impacting their work productivity or efficiency.
  • Approving time off for important events. Day-to-day work-life balance is one thing. But when work makes it impossible to attend important family events, it can cause even greater issues, potentially causing the driver to want to quit altogether. When possible, give your driver time off to be present at events that are typically attended as a family. This includes births, funerals, graduations and weddings. Kids’ school and extracurricular events are important too, so make attending them possible when you can.
  • Encouraging adequate sleep. It’s difficult to be happy at work or home when you are sleep-deprived. Plus, a 2012 study reports that truck drivers getting five or fewer hours of sleep in the 24 hours preceding their work schedule have an increased risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. While businesses can’t tuck each employee in early every night, encouraging drivers to make sleep a priority can help reduce daytime fatigue. In fact, this study indicated that getting just one more hour of sleep every 24 hours can reduce tiredness and exhaustion by 12%.
  • Stressing a healthy diet and exercise. Sitting behind the wheel all day and eating a majority of meals from drive-thru fast-food places doesn’t do drivers any favors when it comes to their health. Eating healthy foods and engaging in regular exercise can help them feel better mentally and physically, which makes it easier to participate in activities both at home and work. Teach them stretches or simple exercises they can do on their stops to ease driving-related aches and pains. Work with healthy food chains to see if they will give your drivers a discount or create a handout with healthy meals they can bring from home.

Teaching your drivers how to have a good work-life balance can increase their happiness, improve their health and make it more likely that they will continue to work for your business long-term—making it more than worth the effort.

With Centerline, you can drive local routes with steady, reliable hours and competitive pay. Driving with Centerline means you still get to live your life.

Learn more about driving with us or search available jobs here.

About the Author

Christina M. DeBusk creates small business content for a variety of publications, some of which include Businessing Magazine, Compendent, Chiropractic Economics, and more. She is also the author behind the column, "The Successful Solopreneur.

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