skilled workers

Three Steps to Retaining Skilled Workers in Manufacturing

We’re all reading the same things: workforce shortages, high turnover, a retiring workforce, etc.

Now more than ever, leaders at manufacturing companies are taking the lead on new technologies that improve daily efficiencies. But there’s a roadblock: it’s tough to find and keep skilled labor in manufacturing.

For too long manufacturing companies have focused strictly on recruiting. But with recruiting metrics favoring the advertiser and not the manufacturer’s recruiting budget, retention is being revisited.

Why? Because it’s less expensive to keep your people than it is to replace them. It’s safer to coach employees than to replace bad habits. And you can build a culture when people stick around.

Given anyone reading this also wants to improve staff retention, I have some simple advice:

Listen to your people.

Act on what they say.

And respond to show them that change is happening.

Below are a few tactics you can apply to steadily make improvements in increasing driver retention.

Listen

Listen to your frontline workers. Be open to asking open-ended questions instead of survey questions, which introduce bias. This allows staff to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Here’s an example of why this is recommended: when we analyzed 35,000 workers’ feedback last year, pay was one of the top four issues (as you would expect). However, the top issue within the pay theme wasn’t about wanting more money. The top issues within pay were “I don’t understand my pay” and “my pay is incorrect.”

By asking open-ended questions we can understand the root of the issues causing workers to seek new opportunities.

Listen to their expectations when they join your team. Expectations for a new hire are the glue that makes or breaks their trust with your company. Aligning expectations on pay, scheduling, equipment and communication are crucial and set your relationship up for success.

Listen to the industry. Every company embraces safety and has an open door policy. Those are table stakes. Pay attention to the pay raises and other incentives that are being shared with new staff in your market. If you are seeing these trends, better believe your workers noticed it first.

Listen to the online chatter. Workers are sharing feedback somewhere. Forums, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Facebook are becoming increasingly popular avenues to talk shop. If you don’t know what’s being said, you can’t do anything about it.

But listening is only part of the battle. When we ask for worker feedback, it’s important they see action come from it.

Act

Find small wins. For example, if a vending machine is broken in the lounge, get it fixed quickly. It’s a small thing, but it’s an indicator that your company is attentive to worker needs.

Act with bigger initiatives. Change is hard. But showing workers substantial changes based on feedback can make all the difference. For example, if your workers are noticing inefficiencies during a specific shift, you could put a task force together to map out improvements in the process.

When we close the feedback loop, we have to respond. The most toxic thing we can do is ask for feedback and do nothing with it, followed closely by acting and not communicating that feedback led the charge.

Here are a few ways you can close the feedback loop:

Respond

Share regular progress updates on company feedback. Highlight actions (even small wins), bigger changes and clear up miscommunications. The rumor mill runs wild if you don’t communicate directly and continuously.

Take advantage of multiple communication styles to reach workers in the way they communicate. Connect via text, email, conference calls, town halls, and even Facebook live to share updates.

Show that deliberation is happening. Sometimes skilled workers simply need to see that their ideas and issues are being discussed in the office and at the leadership level. Even if you can’t make a change, explaining why you can’t goes a long way.

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to skilled labor turnover. But respect is more valuable than higher pay almost any day. By committing to a continuous feedback loop with your workers you will show that your company is listening, working to get better and that their voice matters at your company. There’s nothing more powerful than that.

If you're ready to learn more about retaining your company's skilled workers, reach out to talk with an expert.


healthcare staffs

3 Ways Healthcare Staffs Benefit From Regular Feedback

Employees in every workforce have concerns and feedback related to the work they do. But when you introduce life-or-death situations into that work, that feedback becomes even more important — and listening to and acting on it is vital.

That’s true now more than ever before in the healthcare industry as frontline workers across the country grapple with an evolving situation and seemingly new challenges each day while facing the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what healthcare setting your organization is in, whether you are in the long-term care space or offering acute medical services, your employees have important feedback for you.

Why is capturing that feedback regularly so important? Let’s break down a few of the key benefits your organization gains by capturing and acting on feedback:

1. You’ll capture changes in morale and needs more quickly.

Many organizations rely on annual surveys or quarterly check-ins to gauge how their healthcare staffs are doing. While you can gain valuable feedback from those surveys, you’re missing out on the raw information in between those surveys.

“A major concern with annual surveys is that they don’t happen quickly enough and organizations are afraid they’re missing out on valuable information,” says Max Farrell, CEO & Co-Founder at WorkHound. “These organizations are not getting a good feel for what’s happening day-to-day, and they’re afraid — particularly right now — that their employees are experiencing burnout. They have a need for a more consistent checkpoint with workers.”

Offering your employees access to a feedback tool like WorkHound provides them with a valuable resource. When they face challenges or have concerns, they have an outlet to immediately share those thoughts with higherups who are in a position to make a difference.

2. You’ll be able to track trends and determine where action is needed.

When you’re gathering feedback from your healthcare staffs on an infrequent basis, it will give a broad picture of what your employees need and want. But it doesn’t give you the whole picture.

In order to know where you need to take action as a healthcare organization, you need more targeted information that relates to the day-in and day-out challenges your workforce is facing. Regular feedback can help ensure you have a good understanding of what actually needs to be done.

“Many organizations right now find themselves in a position where they aren’t sure how to react because they don’t know what the specific issues are,” Farrell says. “Having consistent feedback can help healthcare organizations avoid assumptions by giving them a clear line of data about what decisions need to be made.”

3. You’ll be able to build trust with your employees overtime.

Most of us have been in a work-related situation at one time or another where the wheels of change seemed to move so slowly. That’s frustrating no matter what type of work you do.

But when you’re working on the frontlines of healthcare and taking care of those who are vulnerable, slow action on a necessary change can be demoralizing. 

Providing your employees with a tool to share feedback, concerns, and questions — along with positives about their work — is step one in helping build a valuable relationship with those employees. Step two is acting on their feedback.

“Especially right now, healthcare staffs are going to remember how their employers handled this time,” Farrell says. “There’s not an easy way around what the global pandemic has caused in the present. But six months or a year from now, employees are going to remember the level of respect they were given and whether their voices were heard.”

Listening to your employees’ voices is an essential part of building trust, and it will make a lasting difference.

“These people are on the frontlines, and they’re so important,” Farrell adds. “They’re taking care of the people we love. It’s our job to make sure we’re taking care of them by allowing them to communicate what’s on their mind and what’s needed.”

Ready to put our feedback tool to work for your healthcare organization? Sign up for a free demo to learn how we can help.


Communicating Safety

Guiding Drivers to Safety Amidst Civil Unrest

As carriers across the country deal with the effects of the global pandemic, focus has recently divided to also understand how to guide drivers to safety during nationwide protests. WorkHound supports Black Americans in their fight for racial justice, and the rights of all Americans to make their voices heard. We also understand that this can create operational and safety challenges for frontline workers. We are committed to helping you provide those workers with safety resources during this time. 

News about how professional drivers and freight have been affected: 

Resources to Guide Drivers to Safety:

  • Civil Unrest: Carrier Best Practices When Protests and Riots Interrupt Business As Usual - DriverReach and NTCI Webinar
  • Here’s what drivers should do when encountering a protest on highway - Click Orlando
  • A template to guide your strategy via the Trucking Association of New York: 
    • Plan for road closures.
    • Remain in continuous communication with the delivery location to stay on top of the most current and timely conditions.
    • Plan ahead to park in a safe location outside the area and secure the truck.
    • Drivers should keep their company posted and updated as they travel on both their situation and the conditions of the roadway for other drivers.
    • Carriers should know where drivers are at all times.
    • What the driver is observing may be different than what a dispatcher is seeing on a computer screen. Communication is key.
    • Drivers and carriers should utilize all technology available to them.

Updates from State Associations: 

Navigating Tough Conversations

 

This is an ongoing situation. WorkHound will stay on top of conditions to guide drivers to safety and will update this list of resources as new information is available. 

If you are with a company interested in understanding how to improve your company’s culture and ability to communicate with drivers, let us know here.

If you are media with interest in seeking specific information as it relates to driver feedback, please contact: info@workhound.com


change

Are Trucking Industry Changes Here for the Long Haul?

Everything is changing. It's an important question: ARE trucking industry changes here for the long haul?

As the world is different now than it was three months ago, we're looking ahead to understand how the trucking industry will continue to change. WorkHound invited trucking industry innovators to share how they're tackling these uncertain times head-on. Today we’re sharing the answers to some of the top questions from the webinar.

To watch the full webinar click here.

It’s a broad question, but how will the trucking industry be reshaped? 

Rebecca Brewster, President & COO at ATRI: It is a broad question, but do I think we have some clear indicators of what we can expect going forward. The ATRI research has documented data throughout this time that will help the industry going forward. 

One of the things from our survey with OOIDA, where we had over 5,000 respondents, was the number of fleets that were not prepared for a situation like this. I don’t think any of us could have imagined the scope of this pandemic, but in our survey, 80% of respondents who were either owner-operator or small fleets didn’t have any sort of business continuity plan in place to be prepared for what has been a significant change in operation. Going forward it would behoove everyone in the industry to reflect on what has changed and how we can use that insight in the future. 

Jackie Giefer, Director of Operations, Bay & Bay Transportation: There will be more paperless ways to do business. Less personnel and driver interactions with customer and warehouse. On the sales and office side, more virtual meetings. I’m hoping for more parking for drivers. It was definitely a fast-moving change for all of us, but I believe positives will come out of it. We had to catapult our technology resources. We were considering ways to improve our technology offerings, but due to the pandemic, we had to make the decision quickly, for both communication and orientation. 

Mark Walker, Chairman and CEO at TransLand: It’s an exciting time for the industry. Out of every crisis situation comes wonderful opportunities for innovation. So much of it lies in our human resources innovation in how we utilize our most valuable resource and that’s our people. Technology is certainly helping do that in multiple ways. Remote working is going to improve the number of days available for workers to work. Less sick time for moms and dads. The words “agility” and “resiliency” come to mind. We had to turn on a dime and all of a sudden we had laptops available for everyone to work from home. The culture of our company matters and we’ll continue to evaluate how much of our culture we need to keep. 

How will company culture evolve? 

Giefer: The culture at Bay & Bay has always been family-oriented, and this has made Bay & Bay even tighter. Drivers are leaning on Bay & Bay everyday. They don’t have the same contact at truck stops they once had with one another so now they’re calling the company even more frequently. It’s become even more important to stay in touch with drivers and WorkHound has been helpful in that and staying on top of concerns. We’re certainly pulling together as one big family. 

We have about 85% of folks working from home. Most of the upper management stayed in the office. Those that are working from home have been successful thanks to our IT department. They’ve grown accustomed to it and have become more effective. Personally I think those who are at home are more at ease and so when driver managers are talking to drivers, it’s more soothing. 

Walker: Greatest productivity gain has been in orientation. We’ve gone from a 2.5-3 day orientation to 1.5 days, and we’ve moved parts of the orientation to video. Drivers do still come into the office, but we’re able to socially distance. We’ve also transitioned to a high-tech, high touch strategy. 

What are some of the other ways that you see the responsibilities in this industry changing? 

Brewster: Events have come to a halt. As an industry, we’ve figured out ways to communicate and network completely virtually. You can’t completely take away the value of in-person events and conducting things virtually. There’s a cost-savings in not spending money on travel. There’s a whole host of positives in becoming virtual. But drivers still have to remain in-person contact and so, carriers are finding additional ways to allow the in-person contact with protection and distance.

How do you see other industries evolving because of this? 

Brewster: The whole supply chain has been impacted by this. Trucking companies will see changes on their customer side as well. Again, one of those silver linings I talked about is the positive light that’s been shown on the trucking industry, particularly our professional drivers and how valuable they are to society. So I think our interactions with our customers are not only going to change on our side, but I think there’s going to be a change on the customer side with better treatment for drivers, like limiting delays and detention. 

Giefer: You can go to the doctor on skype now. The food industry: restaurants, people and wait staff. Travel industry: I had to fly recently and there were only about 10 people on the plane. Everyone is impacted by this. I do believe we’re going to see positive from this though.

Walker: We’re ordering our groceries from instacart on occasion. Last-mile delivery is a huge part of our industry, but I think it's going to accelerate as consumers choose to utilize and get value-add from it. How we choose to receive goods as consumers is going to impact manufacturers and distributors and all sorts of things. Commercial real estate is going to change. I’m worried about what we’re going to do with all of the public office space when our office home becomes the new normal.

Brewster: One last thing to add, trucking isn’t an industry that you have to worry about getting laid off or furloughed and it keeps on trucking throughout the pandemic. So I do hope that as people are looking for work opportunities they consider trucking as a valuable, sustainable career.

What resources have been helpful to you throughout the pandemic? 

Walker: The SBA, PPP Program. What a tremendous resource it has been to provide a safety net. It’s helped us provide a hybrid of a guaranteed pay program and that’s been invaluable in helping our drivers sentiment toward TransLand. I am just blown away by the commitment, loyalty and passion for the work drivers do for America. Additionally, we’re continuing to become more high-tech, but we’re cautious to avoid becoming too high tech and remaining high touch. 

Rebecca: People have been the best resource for us. Increased participation in our research. 

How are you handling the nationwide protests when it comes to driver safety? 

Walker: I’m grateful we received this question because I think the DNA of our country is really on display with how we deal with this. Communication is critical. When you’re in transformation or a crisis you have to over-communicate. And you do that best by stopping talking and listening more. We have to listen with empathy. As leaders in this industry, we really have to understand where our drivers are coming from and then we have to reinforce the core values that all of our companies are built on. A key core value is safety. There isn’t one load of cargo that’s more valuable than driver safety. We’ll be reinforcing that a lot and continuing to over-communicate and over listen. 

I look at this the same as when COVID-19 began. We're getting the same questions and the same overall anxiety about personal safety. It was Day 2 and our drivers asked “what is TransLand going to do for us if I’m 1000 miles away from my family?” They just wanted to know that we’re going to take care of them. And we’re going to do whatever it takes to help drivers get home safely. I think that’s what we all would do, but you have to say it, intentionally, to provide trust. 

Rebecca: State organizations are providing the latest information about road closures or whatever the case may be to their drivers. That’s where you really see the value of an association membership. Since COVID-19 began, the ATA has had a detailed website available with the latest information and state associations have been pushing that out. This week in particular I’ve seen a wealth of information being shared to help provide the latest insights. 

If you have any additional questions following the June 3 webinar, reach out to our team of experts. We’re glad to discuss and share our insights with you.


mental health worker

Why Mental Health for Essential Workers Matters

The risk of experiencing mental illness as an essential worker is high — leaving many workers debilitated, unsafe while operating equipment, burnt out, or with suicidal tendencies. If left untreated, mental illness can pose significant threats to more parties than just the worker. Other workers, customers, clients, the machinery, and even the product are at risk as well. The damage in these circumstances is astronomical for everyone involved. But these aren't the only reasons why mental health for essential workers matters.

Strap In for the Long Run

As a company, you can help steer your staff to safety. Putting resources in place to help protect your workers is not only responsible, but it’s also smart business. According to estimates from a recent World Health Organization-led study on mental health, depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

In addition to safeguarding against damages and inspiring productivity, it’s an employee retention opportunity in a perennially competitive hiring market. You have everything to gain by making your company more amenable to workers — especially in the arena of mental health.

So what are the best ways to take action? Above all else, you want to take time to explore the mental health tools and options available for drivers. But before you swing into problem-solving mode, you need a firm grip on the issue at hand — the stressors, the risks, and the underlying needs that cause them. These insights should form the basis of your approach.

Know the Mind Behind the Wheel

The complexities of life on the road are myriad. The isolation of extended days and time away from family leaves many workers feeling deeply alone. The monotony of daily tasks can be numbing on the one hand, while the dangers of the job can spike anxiety on the other. On top of that, workers like truck drivers often witness a greater number of major accidents than the average person. And some have been in critical accidents themselves. The trauma of these experiences can be particularly damaging to a driver’s stability.

“PTSD is an ongoing risk in the transportation industry,” said Katie Love, Marketing Manager at WorkHound. “Accidents involving injury and death are extremely shocking events to witness or experience directly. Drivers may develop obsessive fears or flashbacks while having to remain on the road for prolonged periods of time.”

Another challenge for workers is the amount of time they must spend on the job. This makes maintaining relationships difficult for some. Time spent with family and friends is often inadequate, perpetuating the sense of loneliness many already feel while isolated in their trucks. For some workers, the ripple effects can be far-reaching.

Employers: Reach Out and Listen

As a company, the single most important thing you can do to support workers struggling with mental health is to make a connection.

“Stigmas around the topic of mental health can make it very difficult for workers to admit when they’re struggling, even in 'open door policy' cultures,” said Love. “But when employers proactively and consistently communicate about the issue, workers start realizing they’re not alone in their experiences and are thus more likely to seek help.”

Another way to make employees more comfortable expressing their mental health needs is to provide them with an anonymous way to do so, suggested Love.

“The real-time feedback platform provided by WorkHound is designed to facilitate sensitive conversations like these,” she explained. “It’s also a great way to gain insight into potential changes you can make internally that would better accommodate employees’ mental health needs while making them safer on the job.”

Some of those changes might include:

  • Implementing an emergency phone line that allows workers to call trained professionals for support when they need someone to confide in while on the job
  • Adjusting your insurance policy to provide coverage for remote therapy sessions
  • Providing workers with their schedules far enough in advance so that it’s easier for them to arrange quality time with family and friends
  • Amending your bereavement policy so employees have adequate time to travel for funerals and experience necessary grieving with loved ones
  • Trucking companies can offer the opportunity to bring companions on the road: family, friends, or pets
  • Creating physical spaces that encourage social interaction for workers when they are in the workplace
  • Being more receptive to workers’ needs for time off
  • Allowing truck drivers to use PTO in some of the locations they travel for work or providing a stipend for their vacation time
  • Offer assistance for self-care routines, such as gym memberships, a massage, or even necessary hygiene practices, like a hair cut at a barber

Most importantly, remember to listen closely and be responsive as ever. Workers know what they come up against on the job better than anyone, which makes them excellent partners in tackling this problem. And be sure not to wait to take action or communicate updates. Staff members who reach out with mental health concerns and assume they’re going unacknowledged will take note — and potentially seek employment elsewhere. But when employees feel valued and that their needs are being taken seriously, especially on the topic of health, it makes a real difference. And ultimately, employee safety and company safety always go hand-in-hand.

WorkHound provides an easy-to-use feedback platform that gives employees a voice. If you’re ready to learn how using our tool could improve the feedback culture at your business or organization, talk with an expert today.


logistics

Examining the Feedback Trends: A Look at Logistics

A few months back, before the COVID-19 pandemic, we began a series of blogs honing in on the most common topics of feedback among drivers. While the effects of the pandemic are far from over, now seems like a good time to return to the trends and examine the most common source of feedback — logistics.

The reason it feels pertinent right now is that even as feedback has evolved and taken new shapes during the pandemic, logistics has remained a topic of concern for drivers across the board.

What we’re seeing within the logistics category has changed, but the category itself remains a hot topic. Let’s take a deeper dive into what drivers have to say about the impact of logistics in their day-to-day routines, both now and overall.

Logistics As the Feedback Leader

Logistics overtook equipment in 2019 as the most frequent topic of feedback, regularly accounting for up to 20 percent of driver feedback each month.

But what exactly does “logistics” entail?

In our 2019 driver feedback trends report, the category encompassed everything about the organization of a driver’s work, including scheduling, downtime, planning, and load specifics.

Basically, it’s all the processes involved in executing a driver’s job.

Because the topics within logistics tend to be of extreme importance in getting work done, feedback within this realm is often fairly urgent. Driver satisfaction related to logistics is often lower than that related to other topics, and the feedback is generally less positive.

With that said, though, this category also often provides trucking companies with a lot of constructive feedback — areas in which they can take action to resolve the situation and improve overall.

What Drivers Are Talking About, Logistics-Wise

The bottom line with most feedback is that drivers simply want to get on the road and be working. Anything that stands in the way of that can be a source of logistics feedback.

Common areas of concern include downtime, lost earning potential, slow freight, an inability to reach dispatchers on nights and weekends, disrespectful interaction with dispatchers, a lag in getting situations resolved, and bad information. Drivers want to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible, so information or a lack of clarity around items like addresses or directions, wait times, and policies and procedures can be an impediment to that.

How Logistics Feedback Has Changed During COVID-19

As with most things during the COVID-19 pandemic, driver feedback related to logistics has shifted some. The best way to describe it is that it has sharpened in focus.

Driver feedback about logistics during this time has really honed in on a sense that companies are unprepared for what drivers are facing on the road. They’re looking for reassurance that their company has their best interests in mind and that they’ve planned ahead to ensure drivers have what they need.

This change in focus has even encouraged us to change the way logistics has been analyzed in the latest COVID-19 related analyses — shifting the name from “logistics” to “planning.” 

Overall, regardless of the specific issue at hand, drivers want their companies to be prepared, and they want to know the plan that’s in place. For your business and drivers, this may mean communicating about whether or not drop locations are open, whether routes are clear, whether rest areas are open… The list goes on. 

The bottom line is this: Now more than ever, your drivers want to know you have their best interests at heart and that you’re taking actionable steps to ensure they have what they need to safely get on the road.

Ready to put our feedback tool to work for you? Sign up to talk with an expert to learn how we can help.


WorkHound Expands Frontline Feedback Platform Into Healthcare

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The anticipated service expansion comes as healthcare management sees increased benefits from efficient and timely communications with distributed frontline workers.

Chattanooga, Tennessee (May 19, 2020) WorkHound, a real-time feedback platform for frontline workforces, announced today their expansion into the healthcare sector. Founded in 2015, the software company has spent the past half-decade strengthening worker retention efforts across essential American industries like trucking. Leveraging that success, WorkHound’s healthcare entrance will initially be focused on home health and long-term care facilities (LTCF). 

“For more than a year, we’ve anticipated expansion into healthcare, and there is no better time than now to make that move,” said Co-Founder and CEO, Max Farrell. “As the COVID-19 pandemic taxes and stretches thin the entire healthcare workforce, it is imperative that frontline workers are able to communicate what they’re seeing in the field, as well as relaying their wants and needs.”

The past year has been momentous for WorkHound. In 2019, the award-winning company successfully completed a venture capital fundraise to grow deeper into the trucking industry and expand into new spaces. Since this February, their data related to truck driver sentiment about working conditions during COVID-19 has proven a valuable resource to industry leaders and watchers. 

How WorkHound works: WorkHound enables employers to receive instant and anonymous frontline workforce feedback via text message so management can address those matters in a timely manner. Feedback is cataloged and is viewable on a dashboard. Employers can segment and populate reports based on variables such as location, sentiment (positive/negative), and topic. If workers prefer to reveal themselves, management can address them individually

“When we introduced WorkHound five years ago, our aim was to positively impact as many industries as possible by improving employee retention efforts,” said Farrell. “While employee retention remains an essential WorkHound focus, our platform is also enabling managers to keep a real-time pulse on their frontline workers amid a dynamic and rapidly-changing landscape. As we enter the healthcare realm, we believe WorkHound will not only facilitate more positive communication between frontline employees and management, but that open communications will also promote better health outcomes for the people in their care.”

For​ ​additional​ WorkHound ​information,​ ​please​ ​visit:​ https://workhound.com/

For any media-related questions or needs, contact:david@heedpr.com

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About​ WorkHound:

WorkHound was started with the mission of helping people love the work they do. Our platform is built specifically for the frontline workforce. We’ve given thousands of essential workers a voice with our real-time, anonymous feedback platform. With our insightful analytics that hones in on business issues, we’ve helped companies of all sizes retain frontline workers, boost profitability, and save money. Our company started in the trucking industry where average driver turnover rates are 95%. We have expanded our platform to support real-time feedback for additional frontline workers.


driver feedback

Webinar Q&A: The Latest Priorities in Driver Feedback

Since February, when WorkHound added a new category of driver feedback, our team of experts has been staying on top of driver priorities during COVID-19. This has resulted in regular reporting of this data and on May 13, WorkHound hosted a driver feedback webinar to discuss the first two months of results.

WorkHound’s CEO, Max Farrell, hosted Nick Wakefield, VP of Human Resources, Driver Recruiting & Retention at USA Truck, and Charles Stallings, Jr., aka the Turntable Trucker, who Farrell rode alongside in his truck cab from Des Moines, Iowa to LA in 2015. 

You can watch the full recap of the webinar here. Today we’re sharing the questions and answers from real viewers of last week’s live discussion. 

Q: How will trucking be different after the pandemic? 

Charles: Increased awareness of personal health and hygiene will remain high.  Being aware of surroundings and simple daily tasks to be mindful of germs won’t go away. Drivers won’t be as engaged with each other in casual conversations at truck stops or shippers. We’ll be more likely to keep to ourselves to stay safe from illness. People tend to characterize truck drivers as loners, but that’s going to officially come to fruition as we’re going to continue social distancing to stay protected. The simple handshake is with the dinosaurs now. It’s gone. 

Nick: As I sit back and think about trucking after all of this, I have this feeling that our drivers have done such a good job as an industry to support people through this that I have to think that it’s going to help get back that image that we needed. Trucking has needed an image overhaul for a while. People will realize that trucking is a good job and it’s a job that isn’t going to go away in a recession. We have 33 million people unemployed and I think people are going to take a harder look at a truck driving job. I’m hoping that it’s going to help us increase our driving population and drivers will receive a little more respect and space on the highway. And people will see them and feel like “truck drivers kept us fed.” And I’m hoping that’s going to be how things are different. 

Q: What resources have been helpful to you and your team during this time?

Nick: We’ve been tracking the CDC for recommendations. We follow a website called RT.Live. We also follow Johns Hopkins, which offers a tracker to show what’s going on with the disease. So, we’ve been following a lot of recommendations from SHRM in terms of returning to work and to understand what to communicate with our work population and making sure we’re communicating the correct advice to workers. The biggest help we’ve had when helping drivers who are worried is using the CDC symptom tracker and making sure drivers have access to it. Leaning into the employee assistance program and using our benefit program’s teladoc. Those have been our best resources. 

Q: What are your ideas for solving the issue of inconsistent policies between carriers and shippers? 

Nick: We’ve been attacking it straight on with open communication. Mainly in working with our dedicated team. For example, if we have a dedicated receiver who wants to apply a testing protocol that isn’t consistent with the policy we’ve communicated with our drivers, we open lines of communication to understand what they’re trying to accomplish so we can work with them to meet in the middle. Through open dialogue, we’ve been able to work through almost every situation that has come up. But we have had to loop in our sales team when drivers have had situations and they’ve reached out to customers to provide communication. We’ve been able to work through concerns by opening up communication, helping us understand, and then working through to find a solution.

Q: Are you seeing an uptick in business as some restrictions relax around the country? 

Charles: I’m starting to see a little more traffic, not a lot, but a little bit. In Iowa, things are starting to open back up. As far as traffic, nothing to wear it causes rubbernecking or back-ups. Still pretty smooth. 

Q: Are drivers still coming across bathrooms and truck stops being closed? If so, how do you overcome that? 

Charles: I find more problems with shippers. A lot of shippers are closing offices and available restrooms. One customer has opened up an outdoor restroom system that’s really nice. Other shippers have only put up a portapotty in 90-degree heat, which isn’t pleasant at all. But I take notes everywhere I go so I kind of know what it’s in store for the places I have to go back to. Most places try to make your visit pleasant, including offering hand sanitizer. But a lot of places don’t even want you on docks anymore. It’s at their discretion and it’s on them. You sign and go. They ask how you want to be loaded, they do it, and then you sign and go. 

Q: Dr. Fauci gave some tough news this week about COVID-19 hanging around. How are drivers and others at your work responding? 

Nick: Dr. Fauci isn’t an economist so not sure his statements are going to affect freight volumes. I understand his cautions, but for most of us, it’s most helpful to recognize that we need to move slowly. I know we’ve all been cooped up in our houses and we’re concerned about getting the economy going. His cautions bring me back to Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hair. We all know that the tortoise moved slower and that moving slower was always the better option. And if we move fast like the hair as we try to get back to work, we’re going to end up moving slower. So for us, we’re using Dr. Fauci’s comments and understanding that we need to take a slow and measured approach. We don’t need to be the first ones to reopen and we need to continue what we’re doing and that will help us weather the storm better. But for those who want to rush out there to get going, well, it didn’t work for the hair and that’s my honest approach. 

Q: How many survey responses did WorkHound collect in April for the data that went into this analysis? 

Max: 3297 comments explicitly mentioned COVID-19. This represented 23% of all comments for the month of April. 

If you have any additional questions following the May 13 webinar, reach out to our experts. We’re glad to discuss and share our insights with you.


technology

How Technology is Helping Carriers Navigate Change

Everything is changing. As the world is different now than it was two months ago, WorkHound and the carriers we work with are looking ahead to understand how the trucking industry will continue to change. We've invited trucking industry innovators to share how they're tackling these uncertain times head-on and how technology is helping in the time of transition. Today we’re sharing just a few of the top insights: 

  • Lisa Mason, VP of Safety & HR at Melton Truck Lines: “During this pandemic, we felt the need to communicate with our fleet more regularly than before. We did this with individual phone calls to make sure our drivers were favoring well during this time as well as weekly video updates from our upper management. In doing so, we have found our drivers feel more connected to us than ever before. Given the need to socially distance, our IT group was well prepared to send over 90% of our office staff home. This move allowed our employees to stay safe while still remaining productive in their daily tasks. We are very thankful to have an IT team who is ready when a crisis hits.”
  • Jason Crowell, Recruiting and Retention Manager at Brady Trucking: “We're telling driver stories to attract the right kind of drivers. It's realistic, credible, and bolsters retention. Additionally, the WorkHound text solution has helped us communicate regularly with nearly real-time info to Drivers and from Drivers.”
  • Patricia Thornhill, Driver Services Manager at USA Truck: “We formed new communication avenues to reach more of our driver team members in many different ways. Technology has played a significant role in keeping our business up and running the way that it should during this challenging time. Being able to continue with our duties seamlessly, by working from our remote locations because of the information superhighway. Without technology, our work would have almost come to a standstill. In our business this is not an option, being an essential business means the people need and rely on us.”
  • Jackie Labby, Permit Manager at Trailiner: “We have shifted our training of drivers online and our monthly safety meeting online. We also started two weekly phone call times that our drivers can call in, listen to a small presentation of what is going on and they can ask questions. Technology has been huge in keeping in contact with our drivers when we can't have face-to-face interaction. We have been able to continue conducting business as normal as possible and still stay in touch with our drivers. We have employees who have been able to work from home and conduct business like normal.”
  • Mark Walker, Chairman and CEO at TransLand: “(TransLand) moved from in-person meetings to video chat over Microsoft teams. We are also using Teams for connecting as we moved employees to a work from home setting and may keep the work from home as part of our office DNA going forward. The executive team meets at 7:30 am every morning to debrief on yesterday's results and determine how best to focus on today and tomorrow's needs. Technology has also been used to determine COVID-19 policy and procedure. Microsoft Teams has been amazing for our internal use. We realized quickly we can't provide laptops for work from home scenario without also giving multiple monitors to replicate office technology.”
  • Jason Williams, President at Expediter Services: “Technology has allowed us to continue to service our customer and keep visibility within the office. A constant flow of information is vital to our operations. We have been able to keep a high-level of communications because information has continued to be available to all even though we are no longer centrally located.”
  • Justin Johnson, Sr. VP of Sales and Operations at Bay and Bay Transportation: “We’ve increased communication to our drivers. One of our biggest resources has been WorkHound. We’ve also changed our recruiting process, we are doing much more work on the front end to shrink the amount of time drivers are physically on-site. (Technology) has been critical as we have had 60-70% of our workforce working remote. It has allowed us to have multiple avenues that we can reach out to our drivers and customers with. We feel our customers and drivers have not felt any communication, service, or speed gaps during this pandemic.”
  • Laurie Bain, Associate Recruiter at Parkway Transport: “Technology has been critical as we have had 60-70% of our workforce working remote. It has allowed us to have multiple avenues that we can reach out to our drivers and customers with. We feel our customers and drivers have not felt any communication, service, or speed gaps during this pandemic. Because of technology, more partners were able to work from home. We utilized online communication programs to build our online training and host our weekly meetings. We were able to carry on business as usual from a distance.”
  • Mark Pluff, Vice President at Hogan Transports, Inc.: “Hogan has placed a greater emphasis on technology to improve processes. Social distancing has required us to increase dependence on software and tech services.”
  • Carl Bailey, VP of Sales at United Petroleum Transport: “Technology has helped with mass communication of urgent and consistent messages. We also rely on Zoom and conference style meetings.”
  • Jim Franck, President at National Carriers: “National Carriers has intensified our communication with the fleet and office personnel -- primarily through stand-ups and social media. Workhound has also been instrumental. We have always tried to proactively communicate, but sometimes inconsistently. Going forward, after this passes, we plan to stay proactive. Technology plays a role in everything we do these days. Social media continues to be a great communication and feedback tool, as is Workhound. In-cab telematics are playing an important role with fleet messages, detention monitoring, shipper/receiver behavior.”
  • Paul Marston, CEO of Abenaqui Carriers: “We host weekly conference calls with drivers and send twice weekly email news briefs to all employees. We also use WorkHound Surveys and everyone is working remotely. We’ve also taken the time to upgrade multiple software platforms.”

There are a lot of ways to tackle change as the industry evolves right now, but most of all, it's clear that communication remains critical. How is your carrier staying on top of communications? We’d love to know. Reach out to a member of the WorkHound team to share your insights.

 


April 2020: An Analysis of Driver Feedback about COVID-19

Throughout April, WorkHound received 3,297 comments from professional truck drivers. 750 of these comments explicitly referenced Coronavirus, representing nearly 23% of all comments. This is an increase of almost 9% compared to March data, while total comment volume remained stable. 

Compared to the first half of April, the percentage of comments about COVID-19 between April 16-30 was down almost 10 percent. This segment was still significant, though, representing nearly 18% of total comments in these two weeks. The decrease in COVID-19 comments in late April resulted in higher apparent volatility of theme prevalence from day-to-day, so it’s important to keep in mind the larger trends over time. This decrease also suggests that feedback specifically naming COVID-19 will decrease as the global pandemic is normalized and affects every aspect of the industry. 

For the complete summary findings and breakdown of themes, the April Driver Feedback Analysis can be found in the link below:

Note: Analysis by Mark Ellers, Senior Customer Success Manager, and Corey Banks, Customer Success Manager.