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School bus driver shortage has been a constant challenge for the industry. As a result, transportation departments are often asking drivers to take on more shifts and recruiting other staff members to complete routes. While some departments may be able to do more with less and still maintain a commitment to safety, it’s important for drivers not to get lost in the shuffle.
Enhancing driver satisfaction is key to developing a better workplace. Below are some tips for promoting positive driver engagement, from team-building activities to training resources that can help drivers do their job more effectively.
1. Establish an Open-Door Policy - Trust and respect and knowing that communication is welcomed is good for the entire organization.
2. Conduct Engagement Surveys - Checking in with drivers may not always mean having a face-to-face conversation. Sometimes drivers may prefer to reflect on their experiences with a department through a written survey or evaluation.
3. Perform Driver Evaluations - While receiving feedback from drivers may be helpful in understanding what the department can improve on, giving drivers that same feedback through evaluations can also help driver-staff communication.
4. Choose a Theme - Picking a theme for the school year helps motivate drivers to build better relationships with their students and their colleagues.
5. Create a Rewards Program - For larger transportation departments, starting a rewards program to honor high-performing drivers can make them feel pride in what they accomplish.
6. Offer Professional Development Training - It’s not always about giving rewards; sometimes boosting morale is about offering more opportunities for drivers to enhance their professional skills.
7. Host Team-Building Activities - Not every transportation department may have the budget to present drivers with monetary incentives or conduct frequent training sessions, but departments can be resourceful in finding other low-cost activities to keep driver morale high.
8. Develop Specialized Committees - Having a group of staff members dedicated to promoting positivity can often make it easier for the department to increase driver engagement.
9. Participate in Community-Wide Events - Nationwide, school districts and transportation departments participate in annual events like Love the Bus month in February, and National School Bus Safety Week in October to build connections with those in their communities.
10. Celebrate - Holding celebrations for drivers, no matter how big or how small, can go a long way in advancing morale. Whether it’s celebrating a birthday or hosting a staff breakfast or luncheon, drivers want to feel like they are appreciated.
We should not take the school bus driver for granted. They have a big responsibility in the safety of our children.