What Drivers Were Saying in the First Half of 2020

Earlier this year, we took a deep dive into all the feedback received through WorkHound in 2019. From that information, our analysis shared what we found to be the most significant driver feedback trends heading into 2020.

While that information armed trucking companies and those in the industry at large with helpful details about what drivers want and need, no one could have prepared for what was ahead in 2020.

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in late February and its many effects on trucking and the world at large that are still continuing today, it only stands to reason that there have been some shifts in what drivers are saying.

The data backs that up. With half of 2020 in the rearview, we stopped to take a look at driver feedback trends — here’s what we found.

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Empathy Is Important
With so much turbulence and chaos in the last few months, it’s only natural that many drivers had a lot to say.

Up through the end of June, we received 18,400 comments from more than 7,200 different drivers. 

Their overarching message? It’s pretty much a magnified version of their normal wants and needs: They want to know that their employer has their back.  

“Trucking is a people business,” says Max Farrell, CEO and Co-Founder of WorkHound. “Drivers do not want to be treated like numbers. They are more likely to stay with companies that have the human touch and strive to create personal relationships with drivers.”

Pay & People Switch Places
In an interesting shift, pay became a more frequent source of feedback than people in the first half of the year.

For many, finances are a source of stress. Unsurprisingly, then, many of the comments related to pay were negative and fairly urgent — requiring prompt action on the part of the company.

“One-quarter of all pay comments also concerned COVID-19,” Farrell says. “These issues mostly have to do with hazard pay. COVID-19-related pay comments increased from 20% in March to 30% in April and remained steady through the end of Q2.” 

Another issue common during COVID-19 was time spent off the road — and not earning.

“Drivers are very aware of the time they spend off the road,” Farrell says. “Detention pay is one way to moderate this issue, but the complexity of submitting and receiving reimbursements for various parts of the job leave many drivers feeling like their companies are actively trying to limit their pay.”

The Top 5 Trends
While pay was a hot button topic in the first six months, it doesn’t take the top overall spot. In fact, the top five driver feedback trends remain the same as they were in 2019, with pay and people simply switching places in the order.

The top five themes were:

  • Logistics
  • Equipment
  • Pay
  • People
  • Communication

COVID-19 Was a Common Topic

Interestingly enough, while it didn’t break into the top five driver feedback trends, feedback related to COVID-19 was close behind as the sixth most common topic. 

“Even though the other themes had a head start, the amount of COVID-19 comments surpassed some of the main themes through Q1 and Q2,” Farrell says. “COVID-19 was the 6th most prominent theme for the first half of the year and only started appearing at the very end of February.” 

Drivers shared a lot of feedback related to the pandemic, including topics like hazard pay, morale, the need for sanitation supplies and PPE, new policies, company plans for the future, and the risk to self and family.

“Drivers may be putting the needs of themselves and their families above any difficulties or issues they face within the workplace,” Farrell adds. “Many were happy to just have a job during a global pandemic.”

The Bottom Line
Much of the feedback in the first half of 2020 is similar to what was seen in 2019. Ultimately, drivers are looking for support in all areas — in equipment and technology that are working optimally, in logistics that ensure that all facets of their work are lined up properly, in communications that provide transparency and show respect, and in people who demonstrate they care.

“The old adage that employees quit managers, not companies, is true for drivers as well,” Farrell says. “Drivers stay with companies that strive for strong personal relationships. If they feel forgotten or unsupported, drivers are at a higher risk for turnover.”

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