Get Specific: Broadcast Messages That Work

In jobs that keep workers constantly on the move, trying to discuss high-stakes topics with long-distance managers can be intimidating. Feedback about benefits, pay, and even unclear company policies carry a great deal of weight — especially when employees worry their interests will be dismissed.

But for managers, effectively responding to these types of concerns is another challenge entirely. Do you tackle controversial topics head-on at the risk of inflaming the sensitivities of your workers? Or do you craft a broad statement that acknowledges the issue but glosses over the awkward specifics?

If you lean toward the latter approach, you’re not alone. But for companies that opt for a more direct response, the results are clear — specific messaging solves more controversies than it creates. And employees feel respected in the process.

“Overly-general broadcast messages don’t fool anyone,” said Katherine Vanderford, Customer Success Director at WorkHound. “They’re designed not to rock the boat, but they end up doing the opposite because the responses are so watered down that they lose their meaning.”

Share the Full Picture

Let’s look at the issue of varying truck speed policies for transportation companies. To keep drivers from exceeding speed limits, many companies keep electronic “governors” on their trucks. Due to federal regulations, drivers are only allowed to stay on the road for a set number of hours. So the employer-mandated rules for driving speeds often become a burden for drivers who want to make up for lost time on the road.

While many trucking companies will attribute the speed regulations to safety concerns, drivers in the field know speed reductions in high-traffic areas address some threats while simultaneously creating new ones. It’s a catch-22. So drivers know the issue can’t be about safety alone.

In reality, speed limits are also about fuel efficiency and cost savings. When employees want clarity on the reasoning behind policies like this (or even take issue with them), it’s important to respect their experience in the field and provide a full picture of how decisions are made — as well as what other options are available.

“The purpose of the broadcast messaging system is to build trust between the worker and the company by acknowledging their feedback, taking action, and building confidence that their concerns are being heard,” said Vanderford. “This isn’t just an opportunity to share a message with employees — this is a conversation. You have to listen to understand. It’s important to dissect what workers are saying before planning your response.”

Getting It Right

So how do you make sure your broadcast messages are hitting the mark? For starters, you want to know what differentiates an ineffective general message from an effective specific one.

General broadcasts typically communicate something along the lines of “This is why we’ve done things this way and will continue to do things this way.”

Feedback-specific messages, on the other hand, will say something more like “We’ve done things this way for a while, and based on your feedback, it’s not working. Here’s how we’re working to understand your concerns and address them.”

Messages that work well are filled with responses to employee feedback. Typically, we know a response is effective when workers either communicate appreciation to your company for honoring their concerns or move on from the issue entirely.

So next time your employees voice a sensitive topic, look at it as an opportunity to create a meaningful exchange with the people who keep your company moving.


Via Startup Nation - 5 Reasons Why It’s Imperative to Immerse Yourself Into Your Target Industry

WorkHound CEO, Max Farrell, shared the reasons why an immersive experience was important for WorkHound to tackle target industries.

For Farrell that meant going where the rubber meets the road and for research, he joined truck drivers by sleeping in truck cabs, eating road food, and showering at truck stops.

Max on the road with Turntable Trucker

When it came time to pitch WorkHound to key decision makers, Farrell and his team not only brought a bold vision for tackling critical nationwide turnover, but also concrete evidence from the front lines of the industry.

Immersion was an important launch pad for WorkHound's expertise in the trucking industry and Farrell shared five reasons why with Startup Nation.

Here's a brief excerpt from the blog:

"Reason #1: Provable credibility

A ground-level understanding of front-line transactions provides tremendous value and color to the data generated by those transactions. It is one thing to see a dip in revenue on a computer screen, and quite another to see a frustrated driver trying to correct an error on a shipping manifest.

Arming yourself with real stories from the real people at work signals that you are committed to a deep understanding of their business and won’t settle for generalizations."

For more on why immersive learning continues to work for WorkHound, check out Farrell's complete blog on StartupNation.com.


Beyond the open-door policy

An open-door communication policy can help encourage an open and collaborative work environment.

The underlying idea is sound: It signals to employees that you are serious about breaking down communication barriers and want to hear about the issues affecting their productivity or overall comfort in the workplace.

However, there are some issues to consider.

Issue #1: Fear and Vulnerability

An open-door policy assumes that employees are willing to talk with you about an issue that may put them in a vulnerable position professionally. Even if there is good communication between management and staff, an open-door policy leaves management waiting on a subordinate to come to them and voice a concern. Employees have to already trust they will be listened to and that meaningful action will be taken to help rectify a situation.

Inconvenience and fear of vulnerability might prohibit employees from not taking advantage of your open-door policy. They might worry that they won't be able to articulate their thoughts in a fluid conversation. They might also fear retaliation for their honesty. Favoritism and office politics are a dicey game. Employees can spot the pitfalls and often decide the most prudent course of action is to do nothing and play it safe.

Issue #2: Proximity and Delivery

The second problem with an open-door policy is it assumes employees are in close proximity and can walk through the door to initiate a conversation. According to Gallup, 43 percent of Americans worked remotely in 2016 and in frontline industries, that number could be even higher. Dispersed workforces have steadily risen in the past 10 years. Communication around sensitive issues is already complicated, but it's hard to see eye-to-eye on a challenge when you can’t speak to a manager face-to-face.

Issue #3: Passing Time

The longer an issue goes unaddressed, the more frustrated a team member may become. Company management may be unaware that an issue even exists — but each passing day the problem goes unnoticed is a day a team member may think their managers condone the problem or simply don’t care.

Consider the trucking industry as an example. Drivers are often far away from home and the office for weeks on end. Even if a driver feels comfortable talking with their manager, a month could pass from the time a situation arises and when a driver has the chance to voice it in person. Critical feedback might fester in that time, robbing you of a chance to address it. Meanwhile, a professional driver might decide to move on to another company.

How We’re Different

Offering multiple communications channels often mitigates the challenges mentioned above. When employees have multiple opportunities to express themselves professionally, they can choose the one that fits their own personality, comfort level, and the issue at hand.

WorkHound is designed and engineered to remove barriers remote employees might encounter with a more traditional open-door policy. Employees are asked to share their concerns anonymously by text message, and the prompt for feedback gives employees time to collect and share their thoughts about a situation in a constructive, safe environment.

The platform empowers employees to freely speak their minds without fear of retaliation. They don't have to worry that feedback will hurt their reputation, future opportunities, or professional standing.

WorkHound also encourages real-time feedback. It allows employees an outlet for their frustrations and gives management the chance to rectify a situation before it spirals out of control.

The Bottom Line

Open-door policies are a good jumping-off point to improve workplace communication in any industry. But developing true transparency and trust in a top-down, management-to-employee structure is difficult.

WorkHound helps level the playing field.

Ready to see how WorkHound can open lines of communication with your team? Request a demo today!


Visit WorkHound at TCA's Annual Convention in Las Vegas

WorkHound is a real-time, anonymous driver feedback platform used to improve driver retention by catching real-time issues before drivers call it quits.

Get a firsthand look at how WorkHound will streamline your retention strategy at the premier networking and education event of the trucking industry from March 10-13, 2019 at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort in Las Vegas, NV.

Learn about how it works and how it will impact your retention efforts by visiting Booth #432 at TCA's Annual Convention.

Want to jump to the front of the line? Schedule a meeting with a WorkHound representative in Las Vegas by clicking the button below.


WorkHound client ACT named a top 20 carrier

It's been a good year for American Central Transport so far.

The Kansas City company was recognized in January by the Truckload Carriers Association as one of the Best Fleets to Drive For® in the U.S. It's the second year in a row ACT has emerged from the association's rigorous review with that distinction.

ACT has also seen its turnover rate fall precipitously in the past 12 months.

Company leadership believes that the recent award and decline in turnover have coincided with a culture shift that began two years ago but picked up steam last summer when ACT implemented WorkHound.

"We've been intentional to listen to and have conversations with our drivers, which is how WorkHound became a natural fit for us," said Director of Recruiting Josh Mecca.

Real-Time Feedback, Real-Time Opportunity

ACT previously used a different employee engagement tool that focused on annual surveys. That tool provided useful information, but management knew from exit interviews that it was missing out on valuable feedback that would be better gleaned from more frequent driver interactions.

"We couldn't quite get our hands on it," Mecca said. "We realized there was a lot of stuff we were missing day-to-day."

ACT switched to WorkHound last summer and uses the platform to stay in frequent contact with drivers and learn what challenges they face.

"We really want to use those opportunities to learn, improve, and get better for our fleet," Mecca said. "If a driver is having a challenge, we know others are going to have the same challenge. This tool gives us the ability to get ahead of that and solve it."

While driver feedback is anonymous by default with WorkHound, ACT finds that giving drivers the ability to identify themselves at their own discretion has brought some of the biggest employee engagement wins.

In fact, ACT has a nearly 99 percent retention rate with drivers who choose to reveal their identity for further discussion.

This feature allows leadership at ACT to have more in-depth conversations about issues, gives the company a chance to show that it's working to improve, and helps employees see that they are a key part of progress.

Feedback Brings Change

ACT has implemented numerous improvements as a result of regular employee feedback. It matched its cruise and pedal speeds, installed a trailer cleanout station, and highlighted existing programs and opportunities drivers might have been confused about.

Mecca said weekly broadcast communications have also played an important role in the company's engagement efforts. (The WorkHound team works with each of its clients to craft these messages, which address companywide issues as they're occurring.)

"They do a good job taking what we're seeing in real time and getting back to our fleet quickly," he said. "We're able to get ahead of a lot of issues that way because drivers see it happen in real time."

Ready to see how real-time feedback can bring real-time improvements to your organization? Request a WorkHound demo today.


How to be ready for employee feedback

Most business owners and managers want more employee engagement, but they don't always know the best way to reach that goal.

In 2013, Harvard Business Review surveyed 550 executives about the impact of employee engagement on business performance. The study found that 71 percent of respondents rank it as very important to success, yet many had not found good ways to accomplish it.

Employee feedback programs have a solid track record of closing this gap. Anonymous feedback helps develop operational intelligence, identify trends, and open lines of communication with the people who see your business from the bottom up.

But launching a feedback program is hard. There are pitfalls to consider, and it requires a manager who is clear-eyed about building trust with his or her employees.

WorkHound tracked feedback for tens of thousands of professional drivers across the country.

With this in mind, we've put together five questions to consider while deciding to implement a feedback program.

Why do you want feedback?

It's important for companies to understand the value of anonymous employee feedback. If you hope to sniff out complainers or take advantage of employees' trust, a feedback program likely won’t prove successful.

With WorkHound, you’ll be able to identify the root causes of turnover and dissatisfaction. Think of it this way: Anyone can fill a car tire that's always losing air. But if you want to know what's causing the leak and how best to fix it, you go to a professional. Using feedback to solve issues that improve employee retention works very much the same way.

After all, your employees are your company's eyes and ears as we mentioned in the three benefits of anonymous feedback.

What do you think of your workers?

Managers have to respect their employees to get the most success from a feedback program. When there's a divide between the office and employees out in the field, the employer-employee relationship suffers. In that situation, managerial assumptions become the norm where clear communication is needed.

Showing respect for your employees will signal to them that their feedback will be taken seriously and acted upon.

Are you open to what your workers have to say?

Trust goes both ways.

There's a tendency for managers to adopt an "out of sight, out of mind" attitude toward remote workers. They might make assumptions about how their employees feel or how they’ll react to a given situation.

It’s true that anonymous employee feedback can be brutally honest. But being open to the good and the bad feedback you receive and taking criticism seriously are the first steps to establishing trust with your employees.

Do you care how your workers feel?

In many industries with distributed workforces, companies tend to view employees as numbers on a spreadsheet — but they are more than that. They have families and interests. They may be physically on the road or in remote locations, but they are dealing with the same struggles as team members with whom you have direct interaction. The difference is that these remote team members have less of an opportunity to share both issues and goals.

Managers who understand the value of prompting team members to share this type of information will be able to make decisions that improve their team’s quality of life. Ultimately, this leads to a happier, more productive workforce.

Are you willing to make changes for your employees?

Reading feedback is not enough. You have to act on it.

Employees want to know their concerns are respected and being addressed. This can be a pitfall for companies who launch an engagement program but aren't willing to give anything in return for that trust.

Management has to take stock of all that can be changed, and then reward an employee's good faith by doing it.

If you’re ready to begin a feedback program, WorkHound can start you on a path to enhanced transparency. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a demo today.


Maximizing recruiting and referrals with positive feedback

Companies that start using WorkHound initially expect to only see negative anonymous feedback from workers — and while our data shows that more than 70 percent of employee feedback is negative (and negative feedback is the road map to help make big changes - check out our 2018 trends), that statistic alone doesn't tell the whole story.

When handled appropriately, even negative feedback can be used to create positive outcomes.

We’ve found that positive feedback comes in small, frequent doses and that the comments are fairly general and less specific than negative comments. "I'm happy here at my company" or "Love my job" are typical of the positive responses we see when employees are prompted by WorkHound to tell us about their workweek. It might be tempting to write these comments off, but they actually provide a useful opportunity for recruitment.

How Does Feedback Help with Recruitment?

Recruitment is one of the biggest issues facing the trucking industry. Drivers often work as contractors, and one bad experience can lead drivers to find a job at another company. Drivers often spend their downtime scanning online job boards, looking for new opportunities or a path away from their current employer.

When a driver leaves a positive comment on WorkHound, companies can use our reach-out tool to thank him or her for that feedback. Management can ask for more specific details to drill down into why employees are happy right now, and even offer them incentives to help spread the word about their positive experiences.

And What About Referrals?

Referrals, another feature of the WorkHound platform, asks drivers to share hiring information with other qualified, experienced professional drivers in their networks — whether it's a former coworker, family member, or friend. Referrals are sometimes paired with financial incentives for both the person who refers a driver and the person who accepts the opportunity.

The referral process gives companies the chance to replicate a driver's positive experiences. It helps happy drivers use word-of-mouth reviews to recruit others and grow the company's fleet — and we’ve found that word gets around between drivers. When their positive experiences become known, recruitment efforts are significantly enhanced. WorkHound customers like Cold Carriers even share referral incentives in their weekly broadcasts. As we say at WorkHound, "a happy driver is the best recruiter."

A Strategic Partnership

WorkHound meets with companies every week to track feedback, get insight into how they're taking action in response to negative feedback, and craft broadcast communications to be sent out to the whole workforce. Positive feedback often appears in these communications, as well as in social media content and other promotional materials.

The Bottom Line

Positive feedback shows a company what it's doing right, but negative comments shouldn’t be seen as a nuisance. Negative feedback shows management what issues it needs to know about: Perhaps the conditions at a terminal aren't up to a driver's expectations. Maybe a pay policy is unclear or needs attention. These are issues that should be dealt with promptly.

Conversely, positive feedback can provide a perspective about the conditions, policies, and benefits employees are excited about. This feedback often comes when a company fixes a situation that previously caused stress in the driver's professional life.

We've seen this numerous times in our conversations with companies. When they start using WorkHound, employees quickly tell them what they're unhappy about. But once companies begin to remedy those issues, drivers intuitively understand that their voices are being heard. A negative situation last month, solved through company or policy changes, can lead to a positive experience the next.

If you’re ready to take an eyes-wide-open approach to employee retention, request a demo today!


Cold Carriers Case Study: Using Feedback to Intercept Driver Turnover

When Gantt Trucking, Interide Transport, and Sunco Trucking joined forces to form “Cold Carriers” in January 2017, an emphasis was placed on preserving the driver-focused culture at each company.

“There are two kinds of people that work in trucking: There are drivers and then there’s the rest of us that support them,” said Dave Wiebush, General Manager at Cold Carriers. “Drivers are the center of what we do and it takes a bit of drive to connect, but WorkHound helps us get there.”

Each acquired company operates separately in three separate locations with separate pay structures and benefits, but they share 258 drivers located across the U.S. This means during changes in the Cold Carriers transition, communication has been more important (and challenging) than ever. What is meant to be a distributed company could very easily feel like a splintered workforce.

For starters, drivers wondered: “Who do we work for now?” And with locations in Utah, South Carolina, and Florida: “Where is our home terminal?”

Due to a number of factors (be it pride, proximity, or communication barriers), drivers often didn’t feel comfortable asking these questions until they had the chance to do it anonymously.

In distributed workforces, workers can struggle to share challenges that are easier to discuss in daily face-to-face interactions. Without a clear strategy for learning about these issues, little annoyances can grow into big problems for employees and a company’s bottom line.

“I can’t think of a better system to draw out these honest communications,” said Wiebusch. “We all need feedback. It’s a gift and one of the most important tools we have and use at Cold Carriers. We talk about the feedback constantly. It’s helped us learn and gives drivers the chance to be heard.”

In addition to a platform to present feedback, Cold Carriers can also ask permission for a one-on-one conversation if a driver chooses to reveal his or her identity. Of 139 drivers that have agreed to discuss the feedback they have provided in the last six months, 131 have been retained.

“Cold Carriers is on an upward trend right now company-wide, and that speaks for itself,” said Wiebusch. “WorkHound is a big part of our retention efforts. It helps the company solidify relationships with drivers by taking their feedback to heart, reacting to it, and turning it into action.”

With a nationwide driver shortage and turnover skyrocketing to 95 percent across the industry, it’s even more important for companies to understand what matters to drivers and what can make them stay.

“The most critical thing is the speed at which we react to what drivers provide us,” said Randy Savoy, Chief Operations Officer at Cold Carriers. “It’s important we’re reaching out as soon as we see it. The worst thing you can do is to receive feedback and be slow to respond. For any employee, it can feel like you’ve been ignored.”

Ultimately, Cold Carriers uses WorkHound to intercept driver moves by quickly tackling specific feedback with action. Most recently this effort has led the company to enjoy a quicker training phase, more efficient maintenance, and additional operations personnel, but Savoy says a drive to be better communicators has been the biggest win.

“It pulls us together in terms of communication and it sparks drivers the confidence to know that they can comfortably communicate with office members,” said Savoy.

In addition to initiating one-on-one conversations with drivers when they reveal their identities, Cold Carriers respond weekly to all driver comments with a broadcast to announce feedback-inspired changes, debunk rumors, or clarify otherwise confusing processes.

Anonymous feedback has also yielded positive comments, and Cold Carriers uses this feedback to maximize recruiting efforts while sharing referral incentives in weekly broadcasts.

WorkHound bridges a critical communication gap, especially for companies like Cold Carriers experiencing ongoing changes. Companies are using the data from honest, anonymous driver feedback to better listen to and learn from their employees while mending and building upon already strong internal relationships.

“I’ve always had a picture in my mind that there’s a wall between drivers and dispatchers, and drivers have to climb up a ladder to peek over the wall. WorkHound gives me the tools to chip that wall away between driver and dispatcher,” said Savoy.


Top 5 Takeaways from 2018 WorkHound Trends

In 2018, WorkHound tracked feedback from tens of thousands of professional drivers throughout the country. These drivers work at companies as small as 60 trucks all the way up to several thousand while hauling tanker, refrigerated, dry van, flatbed, and expedited freight. This feedback is the key to how organizations are streamlining driver retention efforts.

While driver turnover continues to remain high, with an average of 95 percent, the driver shortage continues to grow. According to the American Trucking Association, the shortage is currently at a deficit greater than 50,000.

WorkHound’s trend analysis came from 77 percent company drivers and 23 percent from owner-operators. The average age of a driver is 55 years old. Smartphone use from drivers is continually increasing and right now, the latest reports show 87 percent of drivers use smartphones daily.

We also know that with a driver shortage and countless opportunities to job hop, turnover happens fast. That’s why now more than ever it’s important to get to the bottom of drivers’ needs.

“The companies that are winning with drivers are taking care of their well-being,” said Max Farrell, WorkHound CEO. “We know there is a value in the perspective of drivers because this is their life. The smartest companies out there realize that frontline feedback is a goldmine.”

While our reporting focuses on the top five themes of 2018 (representing 82 percent of comments), the information in this recap is just the tip of the iceberg for all WorkHound feedback.

Here are some of the top takeaways from the 2018 WorkHound Trends Analysis:

Equipment
Drivers want equipment to be up-to-date and well-maintained. They also appreciate quality facilities like yards and truck washes. These folks take pride in their work and want their equipment to reflect it.

When it comes to negative feedback, It’s quite impactful when fellow drivers don’t share that pride. Nothing frustrates a quality driver faster than those who disrespect the equipment. Drivers want to work, but are limited by industry and equipment challenges.

Drivers don’t feel consulted in regards to company equipment decisions. Equipment decisions that appear to be made at the expense of driver comfort, safety, privacy and/or well being are perceived especially poorly. Not being able to idle in the heat, no APU for CPAP, inward cameras, etc.

Logistics
Drivers are frustrated by the inefficient use of their time because they’re a motivated workforce and want to work! Keeping drivers well-planned and moving not only makes them happy, but it’s also better for business.

Logistics overlaps with communication in many ways. Obtaining, creating, demanding, and communicating quality information helps drivers be more efficient in their jobs. Ultimately, quality logistics and planning are a win-win for the company and the driver. You both maximize earnings!

Don’t tolerate mediocrity. At times you may have the choice of firing a customer or losing many drivers, consider this choice carefully.

People
Drivers will gladly recognize and praise the office staff when the system is working well, but calls for increased empathy are a consistent response.

Some drivers fresh out of orientation challenged office staff to ride in the Greyhounds, stay in the hotels, and eat the food drivers ate to see if they would make the same business decisions again. Additionally, with the isolation of the road, there is an increasing desire for camaraderie among drivers.

Pay
Pay comments aren’t just about the mention of making more money. Driver feedback shows that the nuances of pay are where the issues exist.

Drivers find pay confusing or incorrect or frustrating. The volatility of pay is polarizing for drivers. The mindset of “it’s not worth it” quickly emerges. There are several mentions of driving for Uber or working at McDonald’s when drivers have a $400 paycheck. Trucking’s competition is not only other carriers. It is also other opportunities outside the industry. Overall there weren’t many positive comments around pay.

Communication
Feedback about communication doubled from 2017 to 2018. Drivers shared that incomplete or incorrect information, contentious relationships with dispatchers, and disrespectful rapport were some of the most common friction points related to communication. Adversely, drivers aren’t hesitant to share when communications go well.

In addition to new insights from worker feedback in 2018, WorkHound also evolved their service by developing a tool to measure the ROI of specific actions toward retention. This metric helps companies better understand how one-on-one conversations to resolve concerns can build trust among workers resulting in increased productivity and reduced hiring burden.

“Responding to worker feedback is crucial to continue to gain further operational intelligence, and have the opportunity to continue to improve your company and your bottom line,” said Andrew Kirpalani, WorkHound CTO. “To summarize, show your drivers that you’re listening, working to get better and that their voice matters.

Anonymous worker feedback can uncover unknown pain points and give you the tools to resolve turnover issues. Contact WorkHound to improve how your company is asking for feedback in 2019.


Recapping 2018 Driver Feedback Trends

2018 was a monumental year for driver feedback, and WorkHound will be reporting on trends with Stifel Capital Markets this Friday, January 11, at 11 a.m. EST.

Join WorkHound and Stifel Capital Markets on a conference call hosted by Global Transportation & Logistics Analyst David Ross featuring Max Farrell, CEO and Co-founder of WorkHound and Andrew Kirpalani, CTO and Co-founder of WorkHound, to discuss 2018 trends about how thousands of drivers feel about work.

WorkHound, a real-time driver feedback software platform, equips drivers with the ability to share anonymous feedback with the carrier they work with. WorkHound then provides tools and analytics for companies to act on the feedback.

Download the presentation slides here:  WorkHound Presentation PDF: What Drivers Said in 2018

Discussion Points:

  • The top driver issues through 2018
  • What drivers are thinking when it comes to emerging technology in the industry
  • Why collecting continuous feedback from drivers is key in a tight driver market
  • Actionable strategies to respond to current driver issues

Additional time will be allotted for a Q&A session following the presentation.

Sign up to join the conference call on Friday and gain insider access to the latest in driver feedback trends.