Attitude of gratitude

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When an employee leaves, it’s easy to accept that they left for more money, better benefits or even a different company culture. But the real reason most people leave a job has less to do with dollars and cents, and more to do with not feeling appreciated by their employer.

That’s why programs like the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driver Appreciation Week are such a great idea. The program suggests setting aside one week a year to show your drivers how valued they are by you. It’s also a good opportunity to contact local media to suggest trucking stories with a positive focus.

This year’s NTDAW is scheduled for Aug. 26-Sept. 1, and companies across the country are planning different ways to show appreciation for their drivers. Most of these celebrations will be simple cookouts or company gatherings, but the activities function more like a “psychological paycheck” for those drivers who are looking for a little recognition from management, as well as an opportunity to socialize with their co-workers.

Jet Express, a 300-truck fleet based in Dayton, Ohio, began sponsoring its Driver Appreciation Days long before such a notion became a nationally recognized “event.” Kevin Burch, the company’s president and chief executive officer, says the key to a successful driver appreciation event is not necessarily related to spending excessive amounts of money on food and entertainment, but rather to management’s sincere, enthusiastic participation.

Here are some of the ideas Burch has implemented over the years:

  • Management grilled burgers and hot dogs for the drivers.
  • Presented gift bags with company promotional material, goodies and snacks.
  • Extended invitations to customers so they also can thank the drivers for what they do. This also functions as an excellent sales tool.
  • Gave out free hats and T-shirts, and in multiple sizes.
  • Management fueled the trucks and washed the windshields for the day.
  • Coordinated special events, such as bringing in a caricature artist, contacting the local country radio station to host a live remote, and setting up a demonstration of crash dummies to teach the importance of seat belt usage.

“It would be easy to have the food catered, hire someone to fuel trucks and mail the materials to the driver’s home,” Burch says. “However, the true appreciation for the driver comes from the heart and one-on-one direct communication conveyed with sincerity.”

ATA’s website ( offers more suggestions on how you can celebrate NTDAW, but Burch says it best with his example of an “attitude of gratitude” – from the heart.