What good is working toward something desirable that’s beyond reach?
Let us make this really practical for professional truck drivers:
Has your trucking company ever announced a bonus — such as a safe driving bonus (aka “safety bonus“) — knowing that the odds are stacked against you and that it is likely you will never collect it?
How would you know if this is the case?
As a trucker, what kind of feedback should you give to your trucking company if you feel that the bonus is unreachable?
Overview versus Details
Deleting the Twitter names and putting the trucking company name in brackets (), we engaged in a Twitter conversation in April 2013 regarding what we perceived to be a bonus beyond reach.
Notice the progression:
- How big the bonus sounds;
- A request for details;
- The details; and
- The actual calculation on how likely a trucker is to earn just the first bonus.
Did you know that you could earn up to $75k in bonus money for driving safely at [trucking company name]? #trucking #safedrivng
Hi. We’d like to see the breakdown in safe driving bonus of up to $75,000, please. How many years, etc.? Thanks. #trucking
Certainly! $5k for 1 Million, $10k for 2 Million, $20k for 3 Million and $40k for 4 Million Safe miles
Thanks. If a trucker drives 2500 mi/wk, that’s 125,000 mi/yr (50 wks). At that rate, 8 yrs to get 1M miles and $5,000. Tks.
OK, let’s break down that 8-year, one million mile safe driving bonus a little farther, shall we?
8 years * 50 weeks = 400 weeks.
$5,000 / 400 weeks = $12.50 per week.
$5,000 / 1 million miles = $0.005 / mile (half a cent per mile).
Now it is true that no trucking company owes any trucker a safety bonus at all.
But why make a driver wait about 8 years to collect it?
Does the first bonus and any subsequent bonus seem a bit beyond reach to you?
Trucking companies are to be commended for wanting to build loyalty among their drivers. Perhaps that’s why they put build such large time frames into their bonuses.
But we would like to know what percentage of truckers hired by a trucking company stay with that company for
– 8 years (to try to get 1 million safe miles);
– 16 years (to try to get 2 million safe miles);
– 24 years (to try to get 3 million safe miles); or
– 32 years (to try to get 4 million safe miles).
Trucking is one of the deadliest occupations in the USA and accidents happen often (many times, at the fault of the other driver).
There is also a fairly high turnover within the trucking industry.
For these reasons we think that trucking companies that stack odds against you like this put bonuses beyond reach of the average trucker, hoping you won’t collect.
How May the Bonus Be Beyond Reach?
Imagine that you’ve driven 95% of your million miles accident-free — being only just a couple of months away from reaching your first goal — and then some drunk driver smashes into your truck. (Ouch!)
Well, depending on the trucking company’s definition, you may or may not be technically qualified to collect the bonus you’ve worked so hard to get!
If they say that you were involved in any kind of incident or accident that cost them money (such as to repair a truck or the loss of covering a load), then your safety bonus has just slipped through your fingers — beyond reach and for reasons beyond your control!
Not only that, but every other bonus that would have built upon your initial million-mile accident-free goal is shattered, too.
Do you have another 8 years of trucking in you to reach that first goal?
How many times do you have to “start over” because of circumstances beyond your control?
Making Bonuses Worthwhile and Reachable for Truckers
Since trucking companies invest so much money in their equipment — and likely have large payouts when trucks get wrecked — how about making the bonuses worth a trucker’s while?
One idea is to add 2 cents (or more) per mile for every safe mile driven.
Some company drivers will be careful with equipment no matter what.
But others may think, “Hey, it’s not my truck. So what if it gets knocked up a bit?”
If they have a larger safety bonus at stake, they may think twice before letting a rig get scratched or dented.
Also, in our opinion, it is far better for trucking companies to make safety bonuses much more obtainable or reachable for truckers.
How about awarding safety bonuses every month or quarter (four times per year)?
Money saving tip: When you see a trucking company issue large incentives, look beyond the numbers to how much work you will have to do — and over what period of time — n order to obtain them.
If either your personal health and wellness or the health of your home support team is calling for you to make a change of trucking companies or overall career change, weigh carefully what you will be giving up if you make a change before reaching a certain goal or bonus.
Some employers have been known to change the terms of their incentives or bonuses just before one or more employees are ready to reach it.
(If you don’t think making certain incentives beyond reach happens, research “retirement benefit changes” or some similar phrase.)
This situation reminds of us of the Peanuts comic strip in which Lucy pulls the football away from Charlie Brown just as he’s ready to kick it.
What would it feel like to be months, weeks or even days away from earning a big bonus and then have that bonus “phased out”?
If it is important to you — especially if you’ve put a lot of time into earning the bonus and the bonus is really big — see if you can get the promise of a bonus in writing, perhaps in the form of a legal contract.
But don’t be surprised if the trucking company won’t sign it.
Finally, consider carefully how you intend to spend your proposed bonus.
Will you save it or spend it?
How will it help you to reach any other financial goals (such as paying off a home or truck or other obligation)?