safety isn't just a data point

CCJ Commentary: Safety not just a data point; it’s a feeling

The following blog was written by WorkHound CEO, Max Farrell, and published recently on CCJ.com in CCJ Commentary. 

In the trucking industry as a whole, data is the focus. Telematics can tell us where our trucks are, how fast they’re going, whether or not a driver is wearing a seatbelt, and so much more. Because of the ways in which this information can be utilized — to minimize the possibility of accidents, to earn a better overall reputation, and to lower skyrocketing insurance rates, to name a few — we find that companies are often so deep in the weeds of analyzing data, they’re overlooking a very critical element of their company’s success: how their drivers actually feel.

Enabling thousands of drivers to contribute real-time feedback via text message has taught me and my company quite a bit about the impact of the immeasurable parts of safety. Working with companies across the country to solicit and respond to anonymous driver feedback has uncovered some staggering trends over the past several months.

While companies are worried about things like harsh braking and truck speed, drivers are worried about themselves. Not only is this a very human condition — after all, we wake up each day as the hero of our own story — but the realities of our current health and social climates pose a significant perceived threat to drivers who don’t have the option to stay home.

In April, 23 percent of all driver feedback referenced the Coronavirus. As we see an upswing in protests and civil unrest across the country, we’re fielding urgent questions like, “What do I do if I come across a protest blocking traffic in the direction I’m headed? Do I keep driving?”

Drivers are worried for their own safety. They’re concerned about their families. They’re facing uncertainty about the stability of their jobs. But what we’ve learned over the years is that a little proactivity on the part of an employer can go a long way in easing drivers’ concerns.

If you’re a trucking company considering ways to offer a sense of safety to your drivers, my simplest piece of advice is to be the copilot. While you or I may be able to check on breaking news via Twitter or news broadcasts, drivers can’t scroll through the latest feeds on the road.

Drivers need dispatchers and company leadership to be sharing updates and addressing unique considerations related to COVID-19 hotspots and active protests routinely. They need to know you’re doing your research and taking the time to consider their safety. They need to be met with empathic leadership.

You know that old saying, “They won’t remember what you said. They’ll remember how you made them feel”? At the end of the day, as leaders, this has to be our guiding principle. The truth is, we’re asking a lot from drivers in these uncertain times. In order for them to step up to that challenge, we need to show them that their safety is our utmost concern.


CEO Max Farrell at Work

Looking Back on a Milestone Year— And Ahead to 2020

Max Farrell, Co-Founder and CEO

2019 was a milestone year for us, for a few different reasons.

December serves the opportunity each year to reflect on what the past 12 months have brought WorkHound while looking ahead at what the next year has in store.

We added new customers, and that’s always rewarding. It’s been exciting to see companies change their culture because they are listening to the voice of frontline workers— and they’ve really seen remarkable results. Companies have reduced employee turnover by 30 percent in 2019 and saved thousands of dollars because of driver retention.

Our customer growth allowed us to do a couple of different things. First, it helped us raise $1.5 million in seed round funding that we announced in June. We have investors who believe in giving a voice to frontline workers and who gave us the green light to put some gas on the fire.

As a result of the fundraising, we’ve been able to grow our team in ways that we’ve wanted to since we started the company. We’ve expanded across the board, adding members to our software development, customer success, and growth teams.

We also took home some awards.

We were honored as the Chattanooga Startup of the Year, which was really empowering, given that we expanded to Chattanooga in 2016 and have committed to staying involved in the entrepreneurial community here.

We also won the Best in Show award at FreightWaves LIVE Chicago for our demo of the WorkHound product. This was validation that what we’re building is resonating with a broad audience.

All About the Team

The success we’ve seen in 2019 would not have been possible without the WorkHound team.

From the day we started the company, my co-founder Andrew Kirpalani and I always wanted to work with people who have hustle and heart. The ideal team would not only do the work, but they would also make the work better. I can confidently say that our team has delivered on that goal.

They’ve surprised us by solving problems in ways we would never have imagined and closing deals we would never have thought possible. Our team makes it a pleasure to roll up our sleeves with them and go to work every day.

Looking Ahead to 2020

As we move forward, we’re going to continue to grow our presence in the supply chain space. We have a strong presence with the trucking industry, and we continue to gain interest from other parts of the supply chain — like warehousing and technicians that support the industry.

We’re also starting to look at other verticals that have high-turnover workforces, like healthcare.

Because we grew our team in this milestone year, we will also be able to add exciting new features to the product itself — to fulfill product bucket list items for both customers and the WorkHound team. In 2020, you can expect WorkHound to continuously evolve.

Giving Thanks

The only appropriate way of closing out this piece — and signing off for 2019, really — is to give thanks.

We’re incredibly thankful. I’m thankful for every worker who uses WorkHound, for every customer who gives us a shot, for every person on our team who takes the company to new levels, and for investors who are betting on our team.

We’re hiring, so if you’re interested in joining this ride with us, visit our jobs page and see what’s available. Or message us and see what you might be able to bring to the table. We’re always looking for great people to join our team in the next milestone year ahead.


Broadcasts: How to Respond to Employee Feedback

WorkHound helps companies keep tabs on remote employees' most pressing concerns, but it's important that managers are able to respond to workers about actions that are being taken because of feedback.

That's why we work with clients to create weekly broadcast messages to send to their workforce about issues that have been raised and the steps that are being taken to address them, improving communications between managers in a central office and employees in the field.

Broadcasts are a mass communication tool sent via text message, and this effort closes the communication gap to confirm that worker feedback is read.

"The most dangerous thing we can do with feedback," says Max Farrell, WorkHound CEO, "is act on it and not acknowledge that the change happened or that workers are responsible for this change."

In the trucking industry, for instance, the average driver tenure is around 90 days. That's a short window for management to learn about a problem, figure out the best way to address it, and then enact a lasting change to company policy. It's ever more important that these companies acknowledge the changes drivers are helping them make.

WorkHound helps companies craft these communications weekly so they can prove feedback is being listened to and acted upon.

How a Broadcast Is Developed

Our customer success managers start the process by reviewing the range of issues raised by employee feedback with a particular eye on new challenges. These WorkHound representatives meet with company officials weekly to discuss worker feedback and make recommendations based on the most actionable feedback and industry insights. They also make sure that our reading of the data aligns with management goals and priorities.

These communications help companies quickly address a range of issues that arise during the workweek.

Broadcasts can take many forms. They can be an opportunity to debunk rumors, they can be used to announce new initiatives, or they can give a company an opportunity to clarify misconceptions around a policy. Most importantly, broadcasts help reinforce the importance of worker feedback in company decision-making.

The Importance of Acting on Feedback

Broadcast messages are a value-add for WorkHound customers. Other employee survey technologies tend to be one-sided. Employee feedback goes in, but too little information comes back.

When you're ready for feedback, you should also be ready to announce how you're using feedback, as mentioned in this blog.

One of WorkHound's values borrows from the words of Aaron Sorkin, "Information breeds confidence; silence breeds fear."

Asking employees for honest, sometimes intimate, feedback on work conditions is a big ask. But if that feedback is met only with silence, employees will naturally worry that their employers are talking about them, rather than to them.

Broadcasts are a core part of WorkHound and sidestep this worry before it even begins. The weekly schedule gives customers an automatic reporting mechanism back to their employees and provides a dedicated forum for employees to learn what management is doing on their behalf.

Our feedback prompt — "Tell WorkHound how you feel about work, right this minute!" — is the beginning of a conversation for the workweek. As responses roll in from employees, managers can identify what steps should be taken to address a particular issue.

A good way to think about broadcasts is that they help bookend that weekly conversation. In other words, they give companies a chance to reflect on the pulse of the company and discuss their findings, observations, next action steps, and then respond to all workers with their weekly WorkHound-crafted broadcast.

If you’re interested in learning more about how WorkHound broadcasts can enhance employee satisfaction at your business, let us know by requesting a demo.


Recapping What the Drivers Said in 2017

In early December 2017 the WorkHound founders presented a recap of trends found in WorkHound feedback over the course of the year.

The presentation included the discovery of the top four themes of feedback on WorkHound in 2017: people, equipment, logistics, and pay.

You can download the presentation here.

 

Several media outlets provided continued analysis of the report:

Takeaways from Stifel’s investment team: Stifel - WorkHound: Call Recap

Transcript from the conference call between WorkHound and Stifel discussing the presentation: Stifel - WorkHound: Conference Call Transcript

Takeaways from Transport Topics: Top Driver Complaints: Rude Staff, Pay, Intrusive In-Cab Technology, Analysts Say

Takeaways from FreightWaves: Here’s what drivers are really talking about

Takeaways from American Trucker: What Truck Drivers Want

Takeaways from Fleet Owner: ATA: Driver turnover ticked up for large fleets in third quarter

 

Want to learn more about the driver trends across the trucking industry?

Download this presentation: "What the Drivers Said in 2017"


Stifel Call with WorkHound: "What the Drivers Said in 2017"

Stifel is hosting the WorkHound founders on a conference call to discuss 2017 driver trends discovered through feedback on the WorkHound platform.

Call Details:

Monday December 4th, 2017 at 11am ET.

Call in line: (888) 267-2848 (Domestic)

Passcode: 647236

Grab the presentation here: 

WorkHound - Stifel Presentation


busy season

Busy Season Is Coming: Improve Driver Retention Through The Rush

busy season

Busy Season Is Coming

The busy season is coming. Your trucking company is probably already working on recruiting the extra drivers that will be needed as the holiday season approaches. But once those drivers are on board, what is your company doing to make sure they stay as long as they are needed? Can your fleet be confident that it will be able to handle the extra volume right through the busy season?

The last quarter of the year can be an exceptionally stressful time for carriers. A few drivers leaving in quick succession in November can have a negative impact on your ability to move freight. Even if your company has plenty of miles to give to drivers, so do you all of your competitors. Of course, it will be the busy season for every other fleet as well, so they have an extra reason to use incentives to try and poach your drivers.  

Drivers Don’t Leave For One Reason

As we learned recently, drivers rarely leave a trucking company for just one reason. Often there are many small complaints that eventually lead to a fed up driver who leaves over something that might seem small or insignificant on its own.

Your company can be confident that it will have the drivers it needs this busy season. The answer is to be proactive instead of reactive with your drivers. Listening to your drivers is a fantastic first step. But listening isn’t enough. Drivers want to actually see action being taken because of the feedback they provide.

Driver Retention Requires Action

“Feeling heard” doesn’t mean that someone sat across a desk and smiled while you talked, or sent you an email thanking them for their feedback. It means that drivers see results. For example, if drivers have continuous issues with understanding pay stubs, your team should focus on simplifying how you share gross vs. net pay. The result should be pay stubs that are a lot more readable to more easily understand a driver’s income.

Listening to your drivers without actually taking any action to address their concerns will be ineffective at improving your turnover numbers. At worst, not acting will make drivers feel even more disenfranchised than they did originally.

The Time Is Now

This is the perfect time of the year to start taking action on the feedback your drivers have given you all year. Especially when it comes to urgent issues. Make a few changes, make sure your drivers are happy, and take a few stresses out of the busy season this year.

Want to get a few more ideas about how to discuss driver feedback inside your company? Read this white paper to see how driver feedback can impact your bottom line.


The "7 Strike Rule" To Improve Driver Retention

Driver turnover, even with some recent improvements, is well over 90% nationwide. And unfortunately, the problem is expected to grow next year. For trucking companies this means the bearing the expense of recruiting new drivers, and potentially even losing money on empty trucks sitting against the fence.

If you work in driver recruiting or retention, you could be forgiven for feeling that drivers can be a bit fickle when it comes to switching jobs. It’s tough to watch drivers you worked so hard to recruit walk out the door in search of greener pastures. Sometimes it seems like they are leaving for no reason at all, or just angling for a big signing bonus from the next fleet.

Leaving is never easy. 

But in reality, switching jobs is stressful, time consuming and potentially expensive. Drivers don’t want to switch jobs and go through another orientation. They jump ship when they feel like they have no other option.

How can you identify drivers who might be at risk of leaving? We created the “7 Strike Rule” to help fleets quantify things that might cause drivers to leave a position with a fleet. Think of this as somewhere in the middle between: “three strikes and you’re out” or “a cat has nine lives”.

What is a "strike" against the company?

A strike is something that, from the driver’s perspective, inconveniences them, makes them feel ignored, or costs them money. Examples aren’t hard to come by:

  • A dispatcher is rude or make a mistake that costs a driver time.
  • Payroll neglects to pay out a bonus that was promised when that driver was recruited.
  • A driver’s home time is interrupted so that they can wait on a load for 5 hours at a loading dock before they can hit the road.
  • A driver can’t make the money they need week after week even though they were promised they would get a certain number of miles.

If you were to walk into a room full of drivers and ask them about what fleets have done in the past that made them want to leave, you’d get a plethora of answers. But the point is that it wasn’t just one thing that made a driver want to find a new position. Just because the conflict with the dispatcher was the last straw, it isn’t safe to assume that's the only reason that driver churned out of your fleet.

It's not an exact science. 

Some drivers will leave a fleet at strike number 4, and some might not jump ship until strike 9. The point is that every driver has a breaking point, and every fleet needs to pay attention to the little things that can make a big difference in their turnover over time. Frustrated drivers leave, drivers who leave have to be replaced, and replacing drivers is expensive. This means that frustrated drivers and the “strikes” that stress them out have a direct effect on your fleet’s bottom line.

Learn more about proactive driver retention in this white paper: “Why Driver Feedback Matters”


Debating Reactive vs. Proactive Driver Retention Strategies

If you worry about recruiting and retaining new drivers for a living, you don’t need to be told that driver turnover is a nightmare for fleets. Most fleets are in a constant struggle to recruit and onboard drivers faster than they turn over.

A Vicious Cycle

This can create a vicious cycle for fleets in which the need to recruit drivers faster takes the focus away from retention, which only creates more turnover and a more urgent need to recruit more drivers. Fleets around the country are stuck. Retaining more drivers sounds like a great idea, but often incentives, increased flexibility, and even bonuses fail to make a significant dent in the constant churn of drivers leaving for “greener pastures.”

What some fleets fail to realize is that making the decision to leave and go drive for another fleet isn’t a snap decision. Leaving any new job and starting a new one is stressful, risky, and potentially expensive. Drivers don’t leave without a reason, and they don’t make the decision over night.

Prioritize Proactive Driver Feedback

This is where being proactive can change the way your fleet approaches retaining truck drivers. Finding out why a driver left in an exit interview is certainly helpful data. However it is by definition too late to help you retain that driver. You may have been assuming that drivers are leaving because your fleet struggles to get drivers home every weekend, but is that really the case?  

We all know conflicts with dispatchers or fleet management can create friction, but is this the true cause of your turnover or is it just another symptom of a larger problem? Correlation can only get you so far when it comes to understanding a decision as personal as changing jobs. In reality, every driver has their own reasons for leaving, and in order to retain those drivers, the issues they have need to be addressed on some level.

Closing Thoughts

Your fleet can’t address issues it doesn’t know about. The hard part isn’t adjusting a few policies, the hard part is knowing which ones to adjust. Gathering the data you need to prevent turnover BEFORE that driver leaves is the key to reducing turnover and ultimately keeping your fleet’s trucks on the road 24/7.

Learn more about proactive driver retention in this white paper: "Why Driver Feedback Matters"