Pre-event planning: Each August, supermarket brand Asda holds a charity fun day for staff called ‘On Your Marks’ at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground and Airfield in Lutterworth, Leicestershire.
As a precursor to this national event, ?12 of the best lorry drivers from a total of ?300 who work in Asda’s two depots in Falkirk and Grangemouth in Scotland ?are selected to take part in a ‘Driver of the Year’ day at Knockhill Racing Circuit by Dunfermline in Fife.
The winning drivers are selected based on their driving record and performance throughout the year and take part in a number of challenges at Knockhill to compete to be named top driver and go through to the national final.
Objectives: Alan Brown, transport operations manager for Asda, says the driving day at Knockhill is an ideal opportunity to get staff together. "The drivers are quite used to being alone for most of the day, and the Driver of the Year event is about colleague engagement in a fun environment," he comments.
Challenges: In terms of logistics, the biggest challenge for the in-house event organisers was designing and setting out a course specifically for articulated lorries in a race car paddock.
However, those involved in this year’s event also faced a more emotional kind of challenge. Ever since first holding the event at Knockhill nine years ago, Brown and his colleagues had worked closely with Maureen Halloran, corporate events manager at Knockhill Racing Circuit, who sadly died at the beginning of the year.
Jillian Shedden, managing director at Knockhill, pays tribute to her colleague: "Our much-loved colleague, Maureen, was a great asset to our company, and was enthusiastic and passionate about her job. The team at Knockhill continue to work with the same enthusiasm and passion."
Solution: The drivers from the Falkirk and Grangemouth depots were selected in June, and were joined on the day by the winner from the 2011 event.
Brown explains: "There are the two ?sides to the event: a fun obstacle course ?and a skills-based driving challenge – ?which includes precise turning and reversing, and is marked by the on-the-?job trainers. After lunch, the drivers had ?the chance to compete on the karting ?track, which created a healthy sense of competition on the day."
Shedden adds: "We are lucky to have ?such big, open spaces and good tarmac surfaces [at Knockhill]. This provided ?a blank canvas for the training team to ?set out a suitably challenging course. ?The Clubhouse building overlooking the course was a great place to host all the guests and for the drivers to watch their colleagues tackle the challenging course. This created some good banter whenever a driver got it wrong."
Client verdict: "Knockhill is a fantastic venue for us and we’ve been delighted with the facilities, which is why we’ve gone back year after year. Drivers see this as a fantastic opportunity to show off their skills, and it is an opportunity for the business to recognise colleagues who demonstrate the Asda Behaviours and Ways of Working," says Brown.
Post-event analysis: Brown concludes: ?"The event has evolved over the years and we’ve hit on a winning formula for it."
Event: Asda Driver of the Year
Group size: 12
Date: 4 July 2011
Venue: Knockhill Racing Circuit, Scotland