In any type of business, you’ll often hear the words “quality hire” thrown around while referencing employees. That’s definitely the case within the trucking industry — and not always in a good way.
“There’s a notion in trucking that there are high-quality workers to hire and then there are workers who aren’t worth the time or investment,” says Katherine Vanderford, Director of Customer Success at WorkHound. “Companies will hire employees and then not invest in them because they’re convinced that they’re just going to leave.”
Are there really “high-quality” and “low-quality” workers? While you will definitely find that some employees set themselves apart from others, we believe there is value in treating all drivers as a high-quality hire. Read on as we explain why.
It’s important to consider that drivers are people, and as such, they have unique characteristics. The qualities that make each of us unique also make it difficult to assign workers to a specific category.
“There’s an expectation that drivers are binary people — that they’re either ‘good’ or ‘bad’,” Vanderford says. “But just like everyone else, drivers are multifaceted.”
When a company places workers into one bucket or another, it’s a disservice — both to the employees and to the business itself.
Classifying employees as high- or low-quality permeates every aspect of the work a company does, from initial training of new hires to the ways in which feedback is analyzed.
“Oftentimes, if companies believe that a hire is low-quality, there’s not a lot of optimism that the driver is coachable, learning, or willing to learn,” Vanderford says. “From our perspective, one reason a company’s turnover is high isn’t that they aren’t willing to do something about turnover, but rather because they have a belief that they’ve hired low-quality workers.”
A trucking company once asked WorkHound whether it’s possible to weed out feedback from workers they deem low-quality. The answer was “no” because doing so would result in a skewed view of how the business is performing and the state of the workforce overall.
“Some companies want to know who gave the feedback so they can determine if it’s worth paying attention to,” Vanderford says. “If it’s a ‘high-quality’ driver, they would take action to help retain the driver; if it’s a ‘low-quality’ driver, they probably won’t invest the time or the money.”
While companies might feel this is a solid line of thinking, in reality, it can backfire: If drivers find out that this is the mindset behind how feedback is being received, trust will quickly erode. Ultimately, feedback and open communication are used as a tool to build and maintain trust between employees and a business. If it’s clear not all feedback is being reviewed with the same level of concern and discernment, a feedback program may wind up doing more harm than good.
“We don’t see drivers as ‘high-quality’ or ‘low-quality’ — we see them as drivers,” Vanderford says. “In our coaching and our conversations with customers, we encourage them to see all drivers as a valuable part of the operation.”
That’s part of why the WorkHound platform offers drivers anonymity to share concerns and feedback. Anonymity protects everyone — it helps drivers feel secure and free of potential retaliation, and it helps businesses remove potential biases in how they receive and handle feedback.
“There are a lot of different variables of why drivers work the way they do,” Vanderford adds. “The one thing that a company can control is how they treat their drivers, moving consistently toward a culture that empowers them and gives them a reason to become more loyal to the company.”
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