A User’s Guide to Getting a Feedback Program Up & Running

You’ve decided to implement a feedback program for your team of professional drivers. Congratulations! That decision can have a big impact on keeping your employees satisfied during a time of high workforce turnover. But what’s your next step?

When you implement a new process or procedure, it’s important to be thoughtful about putting it into place. Missteps can lead to a longer than necessary ramp-up period, or cause the program to fall totally flat.

That’s why we recommend that companies partnering with WorkHound to gather feedback do so with a multilayered approach.

“When we’re implementing WorkHound at a new company, we go through a process that starts with educating leaders to help them understand how to establish the program into their processes,” says Cheney Tardio, Director of Customer Success with WorkHound. “Then we work on getting the messaging in front of those in the company who will be on the frontlines of implementing the program. And finally, we’ll work on their messaging to the employees themselves, educating them about why we’re asking for their insights.”

Why is that three-pronged approach so important? Let’s take a look at why it works.

Step 1: Educating the Leadership Team
When you’re starting the process of implementing a feedback program, it’s likely that you already have some level of buy-in from your leadership team. But you’ll need more from executives than simply an OK to get started — you’ll also need ongoing support.

“The most important part of this entire program is trust, and trust isn’t built overnight,” Cheney says. “We want a company to gain confidence in WorkHound, which is why we start with the decision-makers, those who can make decisions based on the feedback that’s gathered.”

This step involves information-sharing with the leadership team about how the program works, as well as the various ways that the tool and the data it gathers can benefit a company’s retention efforts. Once they’re bought in, they can help get other employees interested.

“Getting the C-suite to buy in and willing to make a company-wide statement about WorkHound is important,” Cheney says. “This can be done through things like an internal podcast or a YouTube account, or they may make an announcement of some sort.”

Step 2: Teaching the Frontline the Basics
Once there’s buy-in from leadership, it’s time to share the details with those who will be invested in how the program works, day-in and day-out. They’re the ones who will be getting their “hands dirty,” so to speak.

“This step involves talking with the frontline of the frontline — dispatchers and managers, those who are interacting with employees every day and can advocate for WorkHound,” Cheney says. “We teach them about how the program works, much like we did with the leadership team, but also how to encourage drivers to really share their thoughts and concerns.”

The messaging shared with frontline employees also includes tips about best practices that will help the company truly reap the benefits of a feedback program.

“Our biggest tip is to take action on feedback really quickly,” Cheney says. “Offer drivers a ‘quick win’ when they first use the tool, so they can see that their interaction is backed up with action on the part of the company. This is all about creating that relationship between the workers and the companies so they can earn trust, loyalty, and pride in what they’re able to accomplish together.”

Step 3: Share Why and How the Program Works With Drivers
And finally, it’s time to talk about the program with the drivers themselves!

“Once everyone has been educated about how the program works, it is unveiled to the drivers, who get a heads-up that we’re going to communicate with them directly via their phones so they aren’t surprised,” Cheney says. “We talk with them about how to leave feedback and the types of feedback they can leave. We reiterate that the process is truly anonymous and that they should feel comfortable providing honest comments.”

Creating a strong level of understanding about what WorkHound is and how it works can yield results for both drivers and the trucking carrier itself. That’s especially important in an industry rife with distrust based on past experiences.

“Everyone comes to a company with baggage,” Cheney says. “New employers have an opportunity to quickly let their employees know that they’re different from those past experiences.”

Wondering whether a feedback program is right for your trucking company? Sign up for a free demo to learn how WorkHound can help!


Stevens Trucking

Heroes of the Hound: Stevens Trucking

WorkHound Customer Q&A

It may seem like everywhere you turn these days, you see a reference to workplace culture. It can sometimes seem like simply a buzzword. But when it’s built out correctly within a workplace, a strong company culture can be a difference-maker.

That’s the case for Stevens Trucking. Established in 1979 in Oklahoma, the company, which specializes in oilfield and dry freight, now operates more than 1,500 trailers and more than 300 tractors across the 48 contiguous states.

What’s allowed Stevens Trucking to survive — and thrive — for more than 40 years? According to Cole Stevens, VP of Sales for Stevens Trucking, the company’s culture of trust has a lot to do with it.

Read on to learn more in our latest Heroes of the Hound feature.

WorkHound: Why did you choose WorkHound to help achieve your retention and growth goals?

Stevens: Ultimately, we wanted a “boots on the ground” presence. With the mobility of asset trucking, it’s hard to be in multiple places at the same time the way that our drivers are scattered across the country.

We wanted a very mobile, anonymous feedback loop that would give us a way to communicate with our drivers but also for them to feel comfortable enough to give us their honest opinions, whether those are positive or negative. That’s why we chose to go with WorkHound.

WorkHound: You’ve talked about the importance of having a trusting culture in place. How does Stevens Trucking define that type of culture?

Stevens: We want our employees to feel a personal touch. My father, who’s the president of the company, always told us growing up that “you can come to me with everything.” He was very good about not overreacting to circumstances when he was raising us as children.

And this company is almost like having another child for our family. We try to integrate that mindset into our entire business. That’s why it was so important to have the anonymity of WorkHound. We want our people to give us a reveal, to give us an opportunity to fix something on an individual basis.

Even when employees provide you negative feedback, you want to respond and thank them and work toward solutions. That develops a lot of trust.

WorkHound: It’s every carrier’s responsibility to help heal the industry’s image. How do you address the lack of trust and prior-company baggage a new driver might have?

Stevens: Dad meets every person who comes through our company. He tries to reiterate to drivers at multiple times that if you’re not successful, we can’t be successful.

We try to do a good job of communicating at all times — of over-communicating, really. Drivers don’t always have the insight about what’s going on behind the scenes that can impact their roles. This gives us a chance to address that.

We want to communicate with drivers about things we can control and even things we can’t so that they can better understand what’s going on. Otherwise they can get frustrated and simply leave.

WorkHound: What is Stevens Trucking doing to improve the driver experience with partners and customers?

Stevens: We get a lot of feedback through WorkHound, and we try to be very open about that. We’ll take customer feedback directly to our drivers, but we also do the same with driver feedback.

I’ve legitimately printed off feedback from a driver and taken it to a customer and gotten something resolved very quickly. In a capacity crunch with a driver shortage, drivers take things incredibly seriously. It’s important for us, as a carrier, to use bargaining power with customers about what a healthy relationship looks like.

Having a written record of feedback to be able to show our customers is huge.

Stevens Trucking is part of a community of carriers that utilize continuous and anonymous driver feedback to help understand areas of priority and praise for their essential workforce. Want to put this into action for your company? Reach out to WorkHound today to talk with an expert.


Man standing in front of trucks

How Employee Feedback Can Help Uncover Gaps in Training

Despite a company’s best efforts to create a comprehensive onboarding and training program, there will always be something that’s left out or undertrained. And often, these gaps in knowledge can be disruptive and even dangerous, both to the employee and to overall operations.

But by maintaining a driver feedback program and coaching employees on how to use that feedback program during onboarding, companies can help mitigate some of these issues. Employees who feel empowered to ask questions and raise concerns can help identify problems before they become more serious, allowing for additional training.

Why is taking this step so important? Read on as we take a look at how feedback can help improve and enhance training.

3 Reasons a Feedback Program Benefits Training
Anytime you implement a program or procedure within your trucking company, you logically want to know why it should be done and how it can help.

We talk a lot about the benefits of having a continuous feedback program for drivers from a broader viewpoint. But having a way to provide feedback at their fingertips is particularly beneficial to drivers when they’re first joining the company. Here’s why:

1. Open Communication Makes Drivers Feel at Home
On day one with a new company, a driver experiences a bit of a paradox — the positive feeling of having a blank slate and the negative feeling of being new. Introducing a way to interact with the company’s leadership team and get necessary information from day one can help eliminate that negative, and it also provides leadership with valuable details to improve training where needed.

“Communication through a feedback program can help encourage better onboarding by building a sense of belonging for drivers, a sense that their perspective is trusted,” says Max Farrell, CEO at WorkHound. “Think about it this way: The most excited drivers will be about what a company has to offer is right after they sign on. It’s a really opportune time to ask drivers what they are seeing and feeling.”

2. A Feedback Tool Gives Drivers a Point of Contact
As we noted above, new drivers — and really, new employees in general — often feel a little adrift when they first come on board. That’s totally normal, but also something that can be managed.

While training during the onboarding period is an important way of sharing guidelines and resources with new team members, introducing a feedback program and teaching drivers how to use it is also important. In doing so, you train drivers about the best and easiest way to reach out to those who can answer their questions and take action when needed. Having that point of contact is essential for success.

3. Real-Time Feedback Allows Companies to Bridge Gaps
This point may be the most obvious benefit! When you introduce your drivers to a feedback tool in the first days of their employment, they have a chance to spot any problems or gaps in their onboarding and report them to the company.

This provides trucking carriers with invaluable information they may otherwise miss, since drivers are the ones literally in the driver’s seat and using the procedures in question.

“Having a feedback program in place also helps companies track concerns and their own trends,” Farrell says. “What’s measured gets managed. Having feedback related to onboarding can help them make changes that make the process more effective for future employees.”

And One Other Reason …
Need another reason to provide your drivers with a feedback tool from day one? It can make or break your retention efforts when it comes to new hires.

“In our year-end trends report last year, we discovered that 47% of employees left the company after providing feedback related to training,” Farrell says. “While that seems stark, it shows the importance of making sure your training efforts are thorough and strong. When drivers share feedback about their training, you have a critical opportunity to step in and take meaningful action.”

Use real-time feedback to give your company’s training efforts a boost and improve retention. Sign up for a free demo to learn how WorkHound can help!


driver training feedback

Helping Employees Avoid Burnout in the High-Stress Warehouse Setting

Americans are more stressed than ever before, and they’re experiencing work-related burnout in higher numbers as well. That’s largely due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the amplified worries that people have experienced over their work, their families, and their health and well-being.

While burnout occurs in workplaces across nearly all industries, affecting people at every level of business, it’s especially prevalent in settings like warehouses. The warehouse environment offers unique challenges at all times, and those challenges have been magnified in the last two years.

If you’re in a leadership role for a business that operates warehouses, you’re likely intimately familiar with these challenges. But how can you protect your employees from the dangerous effects of burnout? We have a few suggestions.

 

The Causes of Burnout in Warehouse Workers
Let’s first consider what makes burnout a workplace risk in a warehouse. 

Even at the best of times, when operations are running smoothly, the role of a warehouse worker is rife for stress. There are a number of factors involved, including the nature of shift work, the long hours often associated with shifts, the pressure to avoid mistakes, a demanding pace, and often-unreasonable expectations for production.

The last factor listed may be the biggest driver of pandemic-time burnout. When COVID-19 precautions were lifted beginning in the summer of 2020, people rushed out to make purchases, often resulting in shortages of many items. Those shortages, in turn, led to an intense pressure for manufacturers to restock, which filtered down to the workers themselves. 

Warehouse workers in 2022 are being asked to fulfill demanding quotas to restock shelves and meet demands. That’s a recipe for burnout.

 

How Companies Can Limit the Risk for Burnout
Increased expectations for output aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, even in the face of inflation. Consumer demand is still high. 

But companies have to find a way to carefully balance the need to produce with the need to ensure the well-being of their warehouse workers. These steps are a good place to begin:

  • Reassess the length of shifts. Being on the job for a long period of time can be stressful in and of itself. When you combine the length of the shift with the enhanced expectations currently present, the risk of intense stress is magnified. Think about reevaluating whether shorter shifts would be more effective, boosting overall productivity while also lowering the risk for burnout. Even if shift length is kept the same, ensure that workers are getting multiple breaks to step away from their work.
  • Do a deep dive into expectation-setting. While there’s an increased demand for product right now, it’s important that expectations remain realistic. Are your workers able to meet their quotas without showing visible signs of exhaustion and strain? Are they regularly missing the target? It may be necessary to hit the reset button on expectations to keep them manageable and avoid losing workers.
  • Review processes and procedures. A messy, disruptive work environment and procedures can lead to a feeling of chaos before the work shift even begins. Ensure that employees are able to step into an organized setting to begin their work, which is not only more productive but also safer.
  • Be supportive. Warehouse workers need to know they’re valued and that their needs are important. A support structure should start at the top with executive leadership and be carried throughout the business. One often-undervalued support mechanism? Effective and consistent communication between leadership and employees.
  • Recognize the signs of burnout. Would you know if your employees were experiencing burnout? Keep an eye out for fatigue, feelings of apathy or dissatisfaction with work, increased irritability, headaches, GI issues, changes to normal routines like diet or sleep, increased mistakes, and an increased number of missed work days or late arrivals, which can all be signs of the overwhelming stress that’s indicative of burnout.
  • Offer employees a way to signal they need help. Warehouse workers need an easily accessible way to let their management team know that they’re overwhelmed or in need of assistance. An anonymous feedback mechanism can help them share their concerns in a way they would not feel comfortable doing with an open-door policy or other techniques.


Why a Feedback Resource Can Help
We mentioned above that effective communication is often overlooked when it comes to providing warehouse workers the resources they need to be successful. 

When it comes to supporting employees, companies often try to think of solutions before seeking the input of employees about what’s actually needed. Those assumptions lead to missteps in many cases.

Offering warehouse workers a feedback program is one way of providing valuable support while also establishing the groundwork for more effective solutions within your business.

“A feedback tool gives workers the ability to speak up and find a trusting outlet to do that,” says Katie Love, Marketing Director at WorkHound. “Offering them a channel and being upfront about having a safe space to air concerns helps workers feel comfortable raising a red flag without feeling they will get into trouble.”

Taking the additional step of ensuring the feedback tool allows for anonymous feedback can be particularly helpful when it comes to worker mental health.

“Sometimes workers will use the feedback tool as a bit of a journal,” Love says. “Going through the effort of writing out how they’re feeling can be really beneficial. It not only empowers the worker to begin addressing their feelings but also enables their employer to offer help and support.”

Want to take further action to help your workers overcome burnout? Download WorkHound’s free Burnout Guide to learn more about relieving burnout at your organization.


Truck driver standing in front of trucks

The Great Resignation: How to Beat the Odds & Boost Retention

The workplace is facing a dynamic of worker movement never seen before. Workers are leaving jobs for new jobs and even new careers. Is this dynamic presenting a new problem for the trucking industry, or is it simply the same old issue?

“The trucking industry expects that drivers who come in the door might also walk out the door,” says Max Farrell, CEO & Co-Founder at WorkHound. “That’s because industry-wide, trucking companies experience around 95% turnover for drivers.”

That number may sound crazy to anyone who isn’t involved in the day-to-day operation of a trucking company or a related vendor, but it’s accurate. Turnover is a pervasive and costly problem.

“It costs between $5,000 and $8,000 to replace a single driver,” Farrell says. “The reality is that trucking companies budget for that expense. Companies spend millions on recruiting each year, just for truck drivers.”

But is it a problem that’s been magnified by “The Great Resignation,” the period of workforce turbulence that’s been affecting industries nationwide? That’s an interesting question. While trucking carriers are accustomed to high levels of turnover among professional drivers, they’re facing unique challenges right now in retaining other employees, particularly those on the frontlines.

“The part of The Great Resignation that matters for trucking companies is on the office side,” Farrell says. “Lots of people are burnt out and leaving, which affects who drivers are communicating with. It’s a strange conundrum. If the dispatchers aren’t taken care of, then the drivers hear about it and that can affect their viewpoint of the culture.”

Drivers who see their support system upended with frontline worker turnover are more likely to become less satisfied themselves, leaving for jobs with other companies or outside the trucking industry altogether.

Effectively managing turnover during this time requires companies to prioritize retention for both drivers and the larger support network of employees, since the roles affect each other.

Making Meaningful Change

So, what’s the solution for keeping drivers and other employees satisfied and happy with the work they’re doing? It involves a culture change.

The first step toward solving the problem is determining its exact source. And that has proven to be a challenge.

“There’s a debate about whether there’s a shortage of talent or whether turnover is the problem,” Farrell says. “It’s a leaky bucket. These companies fill up the talent pool, but then aren’t able to keep the workers. That’s what we try to solve; we try to find how to patch the leaky bucket.”

But to play along with the leaky bucket theme — if you try to patch the bucket without looking for the exact source of the leak, you’re unlikely to find success.

“The problem with the way a lot of companies tackle turnover is that they’re trying to fill in the leaky bucket, without trying to repair the culture,” Farrell says. “And if they are trying to fix the culture, they’re looking at the wrong thing and providing solutions for problems that don’t exist. Companies need to slow down and stabilize things that are broken.”

How Feedback Can Help Find the Leak

To patch the bucket effectively, first determine the actual source of the leak. In a trucking company, that involves actively asking drivers and other employees for feedback.

Their help identifying and clarifying problem spots can allow companies to take meaningful steps to improve culture and retain employees.

“Feedback helps companies achieve clarity and understand exactly what the problems are — in other words, where the leak is,” Farrell says. “We talk a lot about analysis paralysis, where companies have so many things that could be changed, so nothing gets changed.”

That paralysis can be costly, and it can also be solved.

“Carriers often spend a lot of time in that paralysis/procrastination phase, instead of dialing into what drivers really need and are asking for,” Farrell adds. “That could be fixed by asking employees about their problems and taking time to determine what those top priorities are.”

Giving your employees a voice can be a valuable retention tool. Check out our case study with Venture Transport on how they were able to leverage feedback to improve driver experience and minimize turnover.


truck driving on road with workhound logo in lower right corner

The Top 5 Tips Carriers Have for Using WorkHound

If you’ve read our blog or checked out some of our case studies, you’ve probably realized we love to showcase the insights and perspectives of our customers. While our WorkHound team knows the ins and outs of how the platform works, our customers are the experts in how to use the tool in a truly meaningful way.

When we ask our customers a series of questions about their experience with a feedback program, we always save the best question for last: “What best practices for using WorkHound would you share with others?”

Their answers to that question tell us so much about our feedback tool and how it’s used in real life. So, what’s the secret?

Without further ado, here are the top five tips our customers share about finding success using WorkHound:

1. Get Buy-in and Determine Ownership
“I own WorkHound. Every problem that comes in through WorkHound, it’s my problem until it’s solved. This tool works best when someone is dedicated to the results you get out of it. You get out of it what you put into it.”

“Getting the buy-in from the top level of the company is the most essential part of making it work.”

— Joyce Siqueira, VP of Operations at FreightWorks Transportation & Logistics [Read More]

This one’s a two-parter. The first step toward making WorkHound a successful retention tool for your company is to get buy-in across the board. You need to sell leadership on the benefits of gathering feedback, and you need them to buy in to taking action based on driver feedback, not on assumptions.

Companies that find success using the WorkHound platform also typically carve out who “owns” the WorkHound feedback from day one. That can be one person, as it is for Siqueira, or it can be a group of people tasked with accountability for their success through receiving, reviewing, and responding to feedback.

2. Review Feedback Regularly
“ It’s given us an opportunity to sit down once a week and go through the comments we’ve received. We can walk through them all 30 minutes at a time, and then we break off and come up with action items. Having the feedback allows us to slow down and go over what the drivers are telling us. It’s been so good for us to hear about problems and concerns that we wouldn’t have been able to hear about in the past.”

— Harman Cheema, CEO at Cheema Freight Lines [Read More]

While it’s a great first step to offer drivers a platform for sharing feedback, if their concerns and questions arrive in your office and sit, that doesn’t benefit the drivers or your company.

It’s essential to review driver feedback at regular intervals so that drivers don’t feel like they’re being ignored or like their voices don’t matter. Carve out time to review and prioritize feedback for action. Speaking of action…

3. Act Promptly on Feedback
“With drivers able to comment anonymously, we are seeing how they really feel. We want to make sure drivers know we have quick access to any concerns they have so we can get issues resolved. Our drivers have been pleased, so much so that we’ve implemented this in some of the other companies we have under the PS Logistics network.”

— Ashley Cunningham, Retention Manager at P&S Transportation [Read More]

Feeling ignored or disrespected is at the heart of many instances of driver turnover. In order to overcome this challenge, companies have to earn the trust of their drivers. Asking for driver feedback — and taking prompt action related to that feedback — helps build that trust.

As you take action, drivers will see those changes being implemented and understand that their thoughts matter. That means they’ll be more likely to share additional comments and concerns in the future, helping to guide your company’s actions and reduce turnover.

4. Take the Good With the Bad
“A lot of the feedback we got during the COVID-19 pandemic was harsh. That feedback was informing us about what communication needed to occur, what did we need to reinforce, what other help was needed. It allowed us to have a very successful pandemic experience, in my opinion.”

— Ian Rozmiarek, Director of Talent Acquisition & Employee Engagement at USA Truck [Read More]

It’s a reality: Not all feedback will be positive. But it’s all positive for your company. That’s because even negative feedback is simply the starting point toward meaningful change and a positive resolution.

Giving your drivers a platform for offering their questions and concerns will provide you with a realistic look at what’s happening, both within your business and outside its walls. You can then use that information, good or bad, to make decisions and changes.

Actions based on data are always better than efforts based on assumptions.

5. Use Feedback to Guide Relationships
“We’ve opened up a dialogue where drivers can give us more constructive feedback on what their experiences are, on the road and with shippers and receivers. For us to entertain business or to continue to do business, we have to know that our customers are fully aligned with us in being stewards in providing our drivers the best possible experience and amenities. We’ve had a lot of conversations with our customers about the fact that you have to share our mission of showing respect to these drivers.”

— Beth Hamilton, Business Development at Storey Trucking [Read More]

Obviously, the feedback you receive from drivers can help you make changes within your organization to improve the driver experience. But that feedback can also provide you with invaluable information about things going on outside your four walls.

Armed with that information, you can have genuine and honest conversations with your customers about what your drivers need to be successful. In that way, everyone ultimately benefits — your drivers are heard and respected, your customers receive the services they expect, and your business relationships can be addressed or amended as necessary.

Want to put these tips into action with a feedback program for your business? Sign up for a free demo to learn how WorkHound can help!


truck driving on road at sunset

Battling Against an Industry Image Problem

Many businesses across nearly every industry are currently facing a bit of an upheaval when it comes to retaining employees. Employees in the post-pandemic world will be much less likely to stick around if they feel they’re disrespected or if they don’t trust their employer.

While that may be a new dynamic for some industries, it’s a familiar issue for those within the trucking industry, which has long been plagued by trust issues that lead to turnover. The persistent turnover problem associated with trucking leaves many drivers — and even those simply interested in becoming drivers — with a bad perception of trucking companies as a collective whole.

“Drivers often feel like they’re going to be treated as a number, not a person,” says Katie Love, Marketing Director at WorkHound. “That’s the most common assumption. They want to be treated like whole people, and they feel they won’t be.”

Why does that perception persist? It starts with the very first interactions drivers have with businesses in the industry.

“It’s a common problem within the industry, especially with large companies,” Love says. “Large companies are more likely to hire newer drivers. So drivers’ very first experience is that this is how drivers are treated industry-wide. These companies often operate too quickly and don’t take the time to get to know the drivers as they’re onboarded. When this happens — when companies don’t get to know or understand who the driver is, where they’re from, and other details — it often makes those drivers feel like they aren’t truly valued.”

How to Flip the Script

Given that trucking’s image problem is persistent and widespread, how can individual companies take steps to overcome it and improve their own turnover? The process of cultivating trust begins on day one when a driver joins the ranks.

“It starts up front,” Love says. “We know that a lot of companies will make promises to drivers and then not follow through. So, it really starts with making a promise and then being thorough and intentional about making sure that promise is met — and then asking for feedback to verify where things stand and where things need to be improved.”

This work begins with establishing appropriate expectations during the hiring process and continues with effective and meaningful onboarding, but it doesn’t end there. Followup after initial training is also important. Offering a feedback mechanism to drivers allows companies to gauge what drivers need and when.

“It’s like when you, as a consumer, experience a service and you get a followup text message to verify that the experience met your expectation,” Love says. “It’s about never operating on an assumption — always operating with clarity.” 

When companies take these steps, it not only helps them boost retention within their own ranks, but it also helps slowly change the industry’s image, which benefits everyone.

“When it comes to the talent market, what the industry is still going through at this time is volatility,” Love says. “It’s like chemistry — until you find the right mix and figure out the right tactics for your culture, it’s going to continue to be volatile. While it would be great to say that every bit of your efforts will help achieve zero turnover, we know that hiring and retention is a long-game. It’s about building trust. What companies need to think about now is rebuilding the trust in the entire industry, and this will result in stabilization for individual companies” 

That rebuilding process may take a while, but it’s an effort that’s worth it in the long run.

“The experiences of drivers at work have an impact on their lives,” Love says. “If they’re having a good experience in this industry, they’ll start sharing their experience with family members and friends who are looking for work. Their kids see that, and a new generation sees that, and hopefully that generation will have a better experience than the ones in the past.”

 

Overcoming the industry’s trust problem starts with offering drivers a voice. Sign up for a free demo to learn how WorkHound can help!


Image of driver standing in front of truck

The Future of Retention Is Referrals

The workforce fluctuations related to the COVID-19 pandemic and The Great Resignation have shined a new light on hiring and retention. Most industries are now facing some turbulence in both hiring qualified workers and in retaining their existing ones.

But for the trucking industry, those challenges are nothing new. Trucking has long faced a persistent turnover problem, causing companies to seek new and innovative ways to retain drivers and to bring in new ones.

What if we told you there’s a way to work smarter, not harder, when it comes to hiring and retention? 

There is! A thoughtful company strategy designed to promote driver satisfaction, build trust, and drive referrals can be your key to success.

How the Face of Hiring Is Changing
In the past, when trucking companies were looking to hire new drivers, they commonly turned to advertising platforms, including print media in previous decades and digital media more recently. While that’s still true to some extent today, carriers are increasingly finding that referrals are often much more lucrative.

“A large part of my job is evaluating advertising sources to see which are most efficient,” says Kennedy Ruley, Digital Marketing Manager for Melton Truck Lines, who partnered with us for our recent webinar on this topic. “Referrals count as sources. And when you’re looking at the quality of leads or app-to-hire ratio, we consistently see our referral program far exceeding our goals on those metrics. Whenever we’re looking at conversion rates or the likelihood of drivers being qualified, it’s far higher than other sources that we use. That’s where we really leverage our referral programs.”

It makes sense. Positive reviews make 94% of people more likely to use or join a business, according to a BrightLocal Survey. Referrals are a reflection of a positive company culture, and they provide companies with first-hand perspective about potential new hires.

“When we have an opportunity to push more qualified leads into the system, we’re definitely going to try and capitalize,” Ruley adds.

Building a Culture That Makes Referrals Possible
Of course, gaining those driver referrals requires a commitment on the part of the company. Drivers aren’t going to bring their peers into the mix if they aren’t comfortable with the work they’re doing and satisfied with their employer.

To cultivate driver referrals, trucking carriers need to establish a strong company culture overall. This includes several key parts:

  • A working feedback mechanism. Providing drivers with a meaningful way to offer insights about what’s working and what’s not is important for any company. You’ll gain perspective from those immersed in the work, allowing you to base decisions on realities, not assumptions. But there’s an added benefit, too. Offering a feedback channel and then taking action based on feedback gives drivers some skin in the game. Because they’re invested in the company at that point, they want to see it do well.
  • Clear and consistent training. Many of the problems drivers encounter, particularly when they first begin working with a new carrier, relate to misunderstandings or a lack of clarity. A strong onboarding program that sets clear expectations for both drivers and the company is essential. The onboarding program should be supplemented by ongoing training and the ability to quickly gather answers if questions or concerns arise.
  • A referral program. If driver A has a friend or acquaintance who would make a great driver for your company, but he or she doesn’t know where or how to share that information, that could be a missed referral. As referrals become more and more important for hiring, companies need a clear channel for drivers to provide them. Just as you educate your drivers on other aspects of everyday work, you’ll need to teach them how to share referrals, as well as why they’re so helpful.

While these three components stand out, a strong company culture overall can help you make strides with referrals. Building that culture starts with putting drivers first, and repeated actions become your culture.

“Putting yourself in the driver’s shoes helps a lot,” Ruley says. “You have to check yourself sometimes and ponder whether you’re building a culture where people want to refer our company to others. If they’re not enjoying the work they do, they aren’t going to make a referral.”

Why It Matters
We’ve talked a lot about how referrals help with hiring, but what’s the connection to retention? It’s pretty simple, actually.

Word of mouth is a tremendous tool for boosting your company image. Referrals are a modern-day source of word of mouth. 

When a driver feels positively enough about your company to make a referral, it’s more likely than not that the driver being referred is a quality lead. Referred drivers are more likely to be retained and to stick around, which lowers turnover and boosts retention.

The bottom line? Times are changing, and so are the methods for effectively reaching potential new hires. 

“You’re no longer seeing the traditional conversations at truck stops,” Ruley says. “As a carrier, we’re seeing a lot more media being developed, videos and such online, that drivers can then share online to promote the company to other drivers. Having that structure and that influence online has become so important. I really encourage companies who have drivers who are active on social media to connect with them and promote their presence online, because I think that’s the future of hiring and retention moving forward.”

A feedback program is one key component of a strong company culture. Ready to get started? Sign up for a free demo to learn how WorkHound can help.