Creating a Culture that's Driven to Improve Driver Health

Creating a Culture that’s Driven to Improve Driver Health

Creating a culture that’s driven to improve driver health is crucial for any company, especially in the trucking industry where the well-being of drivers directly impacts the success of the business. Gulf Relay, based in Clinton, Mississippi, recognized the significance of prioritizing the health of its drivers, employees, and their families, leading them to partner with Espyr’s Fit to Pass program.

Gulf Relay went above and beyond by introducing cash-based incentives and expanding the driver-focused weight loss program to include all office staff interested in adopting a team approach to healthier living. Additionally, the company invested in software to closely monitor driver health, demonstrating their commitment to fostering a culture of wellness.

Approximately a year after implementing the health program, Gulf Relay is already witnessing positive outcomes, bringing relief and confidence to Chief Operating Officer Andy Vanzant. The company initiated its first weight loss contest, which they promoted on social media, offering participants $10 for every pound lost. Vanzant questioned the significance of prioritizing truck health while neglecting the well-being of the drivers behind the wheel.

Vanzant had prior experience with Fit to Pass, having witnessed its success at another carrier before joining Gulf Relay. Recognizing the need to address driver health issues within his current company, he reached out to Fit to Pass co-creator and trucking health expert Bob Perry.

The Fit to Pass program is a year-round health initiative that employs a supportive coaching approach to help drivers and non-drivers at Gulf Relay adopt healthier habits related to diet and exercise. Drivers requiring additional assistance in recertifying for their DOT medical cards can access the program’s intensive wellness track 90 days prior to the examination. Gulf Relay has seen a significant decrease in lost drivers and one-year DOT cards, indicating their progress in improving driver health.

Perry commends Gulf Relay for its dedication to employee and family well-being, emphasizing that such a commitment yields positive results and aids in driver retention. The company’s three-year Fit to Pass contract includes a health coach who guides participants, offering advice on diet and exercise. Regular meetings with the health coach relieve the program management workload while ensuring participants stay on track.

The Fit to Pass health coach, Camaryn Donaldson, plays a vital role in promoting program participation by delivering presentations during driver orientations and safety meetings. Gulf Relay also harnesses the power of social media to spread awareness, acknowledging that work-administered health programs are still relatively new in the industry. While initial resistance from drivers is common, Donaldson finds that many ultimately embrace the program after witnessing its benefits.

Gulf Relay’s commitment to improving health extends beyond drivers, as office personnel have also sought guidance and motivation from Donaldson to adopt healthier lifestyles. The company’s marketing manager, Sarah Williams, highlights the weight loss achievements of office staff who have participated in the program.

To generate further interest, Gulf Relay organized a weight loss challenge called “Lighten your Load” during the summer. Participants were rewarded with $10 for each pound lost, and the driver with the highest weight loss received an additional $500. The challenge witnessed significant participation and encouraged drivers to make small behavioral changes that resulted in weight loss and improved well-being.

Donaldson stresses the importance of gradually implementing dietary changes to prevent relapse. For instance, drivers accustomed to consuming multiple sodas daily can begin by substituting one can with a bottle of water and gradually increase water intake. The Fit to Pass app assists participants in tracking hydration, diet, and exercise, featuring instructional exercise videos and the ability to consult licensed behavioral health therapists around the clock.

In addition to Fit to Pass, Gulf Relay has adopted new software from Idelic to monitor driver health effectively. Through voluntary submission of medical information, the company can address drivers’ specific needs to enhance physical fitness prior to medical card recertification.

Owner-operator Kris Sheltonfrom Gulf Relay attests to the positive impact of Fit to Pass on his and his wife’s health and weight loss journey. Shelton has incorporated simple adjustments into his routine, such as parking his truck at the far end of parking lots to get some extra steps in. He also engages in exercise during breaks and fuel-ups, utilizing a resistance band for quick workouts and performing squats and other exercises outside the truck. Shelton emphasizes the importance of staying active rather than remaining sedentary in the truck.

Shelton acknowledges the invaluable motivation provided by Camaryn Donaldson, Gulf Relay’s health coach, who consistently checks in on drivers to ensure they are staying on track with their diet and exercise goals. Donaldson extends her support to drivers’ spouses or partners, enlisting their assistance in motivating drivers to make healthy choices. Shelton expresses his appreciation for Fit to Pass and encourages drivers to give the program a chance, highlighting its numerous benefits.

Gulf Relay plans to launch another weight loss challenge in the upcoming year, presenting an excellent opportunity for drivers to further adopt healthier habits, especially after the indulgences of the holiday season. Vanzant, the Chief Operating Officer, emphasizes the company’s commitment to assisting drivers in adhering to diet regimens and exercise plans.

By creating a culture that prioritizes driver health, Gulf Relay demonstrates its dedication to the overall well-being of its employees and their families. Through the Fit to Pass program, cash-based incentives, supportive coaching, and the utilization of technology, the company has successfully improved driver health, reduced lost drivers, and decreased the prevalence of one-year DOT cards. Gulf Relay’s proactive approach to driver health not only benefits the individuals involved but also contributes to the long-term success and sustainability of the business.



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