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The Importance of Having a Work-Life Balance as a Truck Driver

19 April 2022

Being able to have a work life balance within our careers is one of the most important criteria. An REBR 2021 report found that 65% voted work life balance as the top motivator when looking for a new employer – overtaking salary and benefits packages.

In the logistics industry, working as a commercial driver can be a fulfilling and enjoyable career. Having the opportunity to experience different parts of the country, and maybe even abroad, all whilst enjoying independence and a fair salary are just some of the many benefits. However, sometimes maintaining a work life balance as a truck driver can be challenging due to the role’s unique demands. In particular, it can be especially difficult for long haul drivers, where at times, they can be on the road for days and weeks on end. However, it’s these unique demands that make it all the more important for commercial drivers to give attention to both their work and personal life.

Fortunately, within the trucking industry, HGV drivers have a wide range of options for setting up a functioning work life balance whilst enjoying a rewarding career. In this article, we’ll look at the importance of work life balance, and how this can be maintained so that both work and home comforts can be enjoyed equally. 

The Effects of a Poor Work-Life Balance for Commercial Drivers

1. Physical and Mental Health

Academic research in Japan has been conducted regarding the effects on truck drivers of being over worked. The findings perhaps unsurprisingly highlighted that reduced sleep during the working week – whether due to working long days, overtime or night shifts – is linked to an increase in fatigue. Another study reports that working irregular shifts in the trucking industry can lead to a higher rate of obesity and metabolic disorders. And finally, research also shows that a lack of work life balance in a commercial driver’s typical work schedule can also affect their psycho-emotional health.

2. Decreased Productivity

If commercial drivers aren’t able to spend enough time at home, this may impact their levels of happiness and therefore productivity. HGV drivers need schedules that allow them to take an active role in their home life as well as their job.

Being able to enjoy life at home will mean drivers will have a more positive, can-do attitude at work. To sustain this, fleet managers can put strategies in place to increase driver productivity even further.

The Best Work Life Balance Jobs for Commercial Drivers

When it comes to striking the right work life balance, what’s best for one trucker’s work life balance may be different to another.

There are many different career options for truck drivers, involving a wide range of specialist skills and also varying levels of commitment to time away from home, for example. For some, there is a real attraction in long journeys, travelling throughout the country and abroad for days at a time. In this case, a ‘tramping’ or ‘trunking’ role could be a dream job. For others, working close to home and having the comfort of their own bed at night is more important. You may be interested in a particular type of operation, from delivering construction materials to building sites, to home deliveries for the retail sector – it really is a very diverse industry.

If your availability fluctuates and you need flexibility, being an agency truck driver could provide the best work life balance for you. You can pick temporary roles that work (to some extent) around your availability, and you can switch these easily by moving between roles as your requirements change.

Debbie Corbitt, who works for Driver Hire Dundee is a huge advocate of agency work:

“Everyone talks about this work life balance thing – agency work gives me a good one. And I love getting paid weekly!”

Above all, it’s important to analyse each career path in truck driving and work out which will work best for you in bringing a suitable work life balance.

Tips for Achieving a Work Life Balance

Whilst there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, HGV drivers do have many options when it comes to achieving work life balance on the road. We’ve compiled a list of best practices for both truck drivers and fleet managers, to support a better work life balance:

What can fleet managers do?

  • Make it easier to stay in touch with loved ones – your drivers are working long days so give them the option to keep in contact with home to help them feel connected. This could be in the form of ensuring regular breaks are taken to check in with family and friends.
  • Be considerate of requests for time off – every business will face operational challenges from time to time, but for employees to feel valued, they need to know that you recognise the primary importance of events happening outside work. Holidays are a legal entitlement of course, but also aim, where possible, to give drivers the time off to be present at important family and personal events.
  • Stress the importance of sleep – it’s difficult to be happy at work as well as home when sleep-deprived, and studies indicate that truck drivers getting five or less hours of sleep have an increased risk of being involved in a road accident. Encouraging drivers to make sleep a priority will help lessen daytime fatigue. In fact, the same study highlighted that even getting just one more extra hour of sleep can decrease tiredness and exhaustion by 12%.
  • Encourage a healthy diet and exercise – eating healthy foods and doing regular exercise can help drivers feel better mentally and physically, making it easier to participate in activities both at home and work. Educate drivers on stretches or simple exercises they can do on their stops to relieve driving-related aches and pains.

What can drivers do?

  • Try a flexible schedule – always bearing in mind the operational needs of your employer, you may wish to discuss flexible working patterns with your manager. They may be happy to help you in developing a work schedule that promotes a more equal work life balance.
  • Plan your route accordingly – planning your route in advance and sticking to it can believe it or not have a hugely positive impact on work life balance. And if you’re away from home, try to take an interest in the local area during your down time.
  • Prepare home cooked meals‍ – taking your favourite meal can remind you of home. Plus, it can also be a healthier and cheaper alternative to some of the food choices you may have on the road.
  • Choose an employer that values staff happiness – working with a firm that supports and cares for you makes all the difference.
  • Keep in regular contact with loved ones – keeping in touch with family and friends by calling and checking in when on your break is crucial for staying connected.
  • Take care of yourself – maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly, as well as getting enough rest, are important for establishing a healthy and happy work life balance.
  • Create a comfortable sleeping area – if you work multiple days on the road, your cab is your home away from home, so make sure to keep it as comfortable as possible. A clean comfortable mattress, sheets, pictures of loved ones and other home comforts will make all the difference.
  • Utilise breaks and holidays – make sure to take regular breaks to stretch, eat and rest. As well as this, be sure to do something fun in your downtime with loved ones, so that when you’re back on the road, you can have confidence that you made the most of your holidays.

Being a commercial driver can be a challenging. However, it’s far from an all or nothing career and it can take into account the importance of work life balance. You’re in the driver’s seat of not only your cab but your life too. With a little bit of forward planning and the right employer behind you, you can achieve a work life balance that you enjoy.

If you’d like to talk to us about how we can support your work life balance as an HGV driver, call us on 0808 178 9977 or chat to one of our agents right now