Driving a five-axle, 80,000-pound truck with a 51-foot trailer at 65 mph on the highway is anything but a game. But motivating the drivers of these trucks to improve their track record is another story.
Gamification has hit the highway and is gaining speed in fleets around the globe. Using gaming dynamics in a non-game setting, gamification engages and motivates drivers without compromising safety.
In fact, safety is improved when gamification is adopted and accepted by fleets. Additionally, wasteful driving habits—such as unnecessary idling--are minimized, so driver behavior gamification tools can positively affect your bottom line.
The gamification concept is simple. Give drivers a set of driving or productivity goals that they want to achieve over a given period, such as reducing hard braking or accelerating, or eliminating idling or speeding and record the results. At the end of the “contest” period, drivers are measured against each other and the fleet manager can utilize the results to reward drivers or help coach them to become better drivers.
“For a service fleet, they’re often a tight group with a lot of rapport. Gamification dials into their natural competitive nature,” explains Bill Cooper, Vice President of customer acquisition at WEX.
Some companies take competition a step further by fostering teamwork as well as individual improvement.
According to Roni Taylor, VP of industry relations for Spireon, his company has developed the Driver Performance Program, “The customer can put its drivers in teams, so they can have the Northeast versus the Southeast, for instance, and then they compete against each other. It’s a very constructive and fun way of rewarding the driver and helping them change driving behaviors.”
Gamification fosters employee engagement and provides a connection to a company’s mission and goals. It also acts as an aid to further self-improvement.
Cooper of WEX explains that gamification is “an opportunity to hold up a mirror to the driver so he or she can see what they may be doing incorrectly and correct it.”
Those driver corrections benefit the whole fleet.
Joe Castelli, Vice President of commercial and fleet operations for LoJack describes how gamification supported by a comprehensive telematics system provides day-to-day management and companywide improvements.
“It helps the dispatcher actively manage the fleet, it helps the drivers adopt a responsible driving style, and it provides that feedback before, during, and after the trip,” he says. “It is a great coaching and counseling tool.”
Unlike telematics of yesterday, gamification shakes off the punitive stigma of being watched by the powers-that-be.
“Gamification makes the leap from ‘Big Brother’ to ‘this is fun’,” Cooper of WEX observes. “This is what has always been missing with telematics.”
The ability to provide immediate feedback empowers the driver and inspires them to do their best on the job. It also keeps makes them a safer operator.
Michael Crafton, President and CEO of Team 360, a building services and fire protection company, says the most helpful aspect of using gamification has been the driver safety score, which measures each driver’s habits while behind the wheel.
“It’s been a great way to manage driver safety,” says Crafton. “It sets a tone that we want you to be safe…we want to protect our drivers.”
Tim Karle, Equipment Superintendent of Atkinson Construction uses the Telogis ‘Coach’ application: “Telogis has helped our safety program tremendously…There has been a drastic reduction in accidents and driver mishaps,” he says. “Now when the guys get in the truck they’re thinking about wearing their seat belt, driving under the speed limit and they’re thinking about getting a higher score on the scorecard. It has made our guys drive safer.”
Crafton of Team 360 chose the telematics platform Zubie for its ease of use and the functionality of its web application. With a connected car platform, Team 360 can maximize business fleet tracking, analytics, and management capabilities.
Each Team 360 driver has access to his or her personal safety score, and the system automatically sends a weekly and monthly email with a ranking of all the drivers’ safety scores. All drivers receive an alert when an event—such as speeding or hard braking—happens. Fleet drivers with the best safety scores are rewarded, and a culture of accountability is created.
Team 360’s dispatch team uses the GPS tracking feature to locate the nearest technician to a last-minute job assignment. The system can also send an alert if engine problems, battery voltage issues, or even low fuel levels are detected.
Forbes recently predicted that about 40 percent of Global 1000 organizations are using gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations. This boom in popularity across fleets is driven by several things, most notably the commonality of smart phones in our culture now, and the daily use and acceptance of apps. Social gaming among non-gamers is also a factor, as is the shift from punitive consequences (think loss of job) to incentives for a job well done.
Mark Wallin, VP of product development for Telogis, stresses that in order to have success with gamification, “You’ve got to have some form of training. Programs don’t work if you just say ‘I’m going to grade you on five things.’ You’ve got to set a foundation that isn’t punitive, you’ve got to set the expectations properly and training is important to that.”
Spireon VP Taylor echoes that training and coaching are essential for long-term success. Spireon has built-in coaching in its system’s app.
“Our system monitors driving behavior and it scores the driver,” says Taylor. “So, if one driver is doing a lot of idling or a lot of hard acceleration, there’s a coaching video that can be watched, instructing the driver in a very positive way how to change the behavior.”
Investing in the right telematics platform, and then utilizing the system to its full advantage, is what brings the greatest return on investment, in both driver safety and fleet savings.
Wallin of Telogis believes a crucial part of successful gamification is having a platform and mobile apps that connect employees to the company’s mission. Stuart Kerr, VP global enterprise sales for Fleetmatics, agrees, adding the challenge with adopting gamification is learning “how to most effectively communicate with drivers about how they’re doing relative to their peers.“ Kerr continues, “If you’ve made the right type of investments in your mobile technology, you’ll have a driver app that you can use to highlight the single attributes that are important to your organization.”
Shared core values of driver safety and minimized wastefulness via good driving practices are fortified through gamification. Savings can be big in the form of a longer-lasting fleet, a reduction in wasteful driving habits, and most importantly, decreased costs associated with unsafe driving practices.
“Since we’ve switched over to Telogis, we’ve seen a huge savings on the bottom line,” says Karle. “Idling has been reduced by 50%. We’ve extended the life of our vehicles by at least an extra 50,000 miles (more than 30%), which means they’re more than paid for, and it’s just money in the bank.”
Adding a little bit of play to your fleet management system with a gamification tool can significantly improve driver morale, efficiency and safety.