This may sound corny but it’s true. We all need the same needs in life to have a meaningful and fulfilling experience. The order of the six human needs is different for everyone. Some people may need love and connection more than they do contribution and so on and so on. But we all still need the six needs. The six human needs of a truck driver are:Dave Brown
Certainty
Significance
Growth
Uncertainty / Variety
Connection / Love
Contribution

In no particular order, no matter where you live and no matter what you do for a living these six apply to everyone. Just so you know I didn’t make this up but I did want to share it with everyone. I have learned it from the many books I’ve read over the years from an author who I have the greatest respect. Try it for yourself and let me know if this doesn’t apply to you. I am not going to talk about personal relationships just the business of being a truck driver. A very dear and respected mentor of mine in this industry taught me a very simple lesson a long time ago. He told me that “there is a difference being a truck driver and driving a truck”. Wow, isn’t that the truth, there is definitely a difference between being a truck driver and driving a truck, absolutely, as we see the difference in our skilled drivers on our highways on a daily basis.

Certainty: We all need a level of certainty in our lives. To feel in control and to know what’s coming next to feel in control. It’s a survival mechanism; it’s also about how much risk we are willing to take in life and in our jobs. Certainty for me is a pay check every two weeks or I am certain my wife is going to kill me. Certainty is also that we have the necessary benefits that we need to have healthy teeth and the ability to see a doctor when we aren’t well. As most of you know my wife is a liver transplant recipient and having faith in the surgeon’s ability to save my wife falls back on his certainty of his skill to pursue a successful conclusion. In truck driving a similar skill set but in driving is necessary and the certainty of your own ability to handle your truck in a safe manner for your own safety and that of other motorists.

Significance: This one for me is huge. The need to know I’ve helped someone else gives me significance. Whether transporting freight or moving cars the need to know it’s making a difference to someone is huge for me. I am not looking for a pat on the back or anything like that but being appreciated for what I do at my work goes a long way with me. What about a dispatcher saying “well done” or even “thank you”. Give your drivers a “High Five” from time to time it’s a human need in all of us and the rewards are amazing. The next time out on the road they will even try harder to do a better job.

Growth: The art of learning. The only person you have to compete with is yourself. The ability to grow in a company to know that there is a means to an end, a reason for being, feeling strong and vibrant.

Uncertainty / Variety: We all like surprises at least the good surprises but unwanted surprises are called problems. We need samplings of the good life and we need samplings of the poor things in life. We all have emotions and variety keeps building character.

Connection / Love: First thing that comes to mind is the driver / dispatch relationship. But if there is a good working relationship and a mutual respect for each others job and how would that make your day to day function – better or worse? Loyalty to the Carrier is more than just a pay check. It’s a connection knowing that when the economy gets bad you still had a job or a reduced paycheque rather than no paycheque at all. All drivers need a connection to their families while away and a connection to their job to make it a rewarding job.

Contribution: Once a week I pay for the coffee for the car behind me in a Tim Horton’s drive through. Six months ago I gave away a pair of baseball tickets to a total stranger. What a fantastic feeling, just to see the look in their face, and driving away knowing you caused that look. Why is contribution in trucking so important, because we need to leave a legacy of the gifted and very skilled drivers for our future generations? Making a contribution doesn’t just have to be money. Why can’t we include “skill set” making the roads and highways safer for everyone to use them now and in the future.

We all worry about the driver shortage. The problems of the shortage is the availability of skilled drivers. Most companies put all the solutions to more money, better equipment, more miles, open door polices and more. The six human needs will better define not only your shortage problems but your retention concerns. I preach the 5 “A”s, Appearance, Aptitude, Attitude, Ability to Learn and Ambassadorship and they all fit the six human needs of a truck driver.

About the Author

David Brown has been a long time recruiter and columnist in the transportation industry.