How Stevens Trucking uses WorkHound to boost retention
“People feel much more open to share their honest thoughts because of the anonymous nature of the platform.”
Stevens Trucking was founded in 1979 as a family-owned business with one hot-shot truck. Today, they operate 1000 trailers and 300 trucks in Oklahoma — and while the company has grown over the past four decades, the emphasis is still on family.
Of course, as with any organization that grows, it became more difficult for Stevens to maintain a touchpoint with all employees over time. But knowing that a close-knit, trusting culture was essential to business success, the leadership team at Stevens Trucking turned to WorkHound as a solution two years ago.
“Ultimately, we were looking at ways to boost our retention,” says Cole Stevens, Vice President of Sales for Stevens Trucking. “I read an article on FreightWaves about WorkHound and the platform it provides, and I thought it was a genius idea to be able to get that kind of comment dropbox directly and anonymously to the upper management team, giving us a ‘boots on the ground’ presence.”
While Stevens and other leaders knew that they wanted to provide their drivers with a meaningful way to provide feedback, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic added new urgency.
“With the mobility of the industry, it’s tough to get that human feel,” Stevens says. “And throughout COVID-19, that was a big challenge with distance and the way people felt distance. That’s why we really started looking at this platform and taking it very seriously[…]. [We wanted] to get that direct contact and get back to that family feel that we’ve been used to as we’ve grown throughout the years.”
Once Stevens Trucking partnered with WorkHound to begin gathering driver feedback, the leadership team quickly realized that the insights of drivers went well beyond what they had even expected. In fact, management was able to use driver feedback to help them navigate a significant company change.
“We moved our whole terminal — the shop, the office, several hundred trailers, and a whole bunch of equipment,” says Josh Wagner, Human Resources & Data Management for Stevens Trucking. “During the move, we got feedback about the struggles and friction points for drivers that we as management couldn’t see clearly or didn’t realize were as big of a deal as they were to the drivers, so we’ve been able to take action there. We got suggestions through WorkHound that helped us arrange the new facility in a way that was better suited for the drivers’ needs.”
As Stevens Trucking received driver feedback about what was needed within the new terminal from a driver perspective, the company was able to take meaningful action.
“We truly listened to what our drivers had to say. In one specific example, because of the size of this facility, someone suggested we get a service advisor role in the shop so that when drivers were waiting on their truck in the shop, the service advisor could keep them posted on the progress or any delays, or just give them an updated status regularly on where their truck is. We created that position based on that feedback, and it’s working well so far.”
Human Resources & Data Management for Stevens Trucking
One of the key differences between the WorkHound platform and other feedback mechanisms is that drivers don’t have to identify themselves if they don’t choose to. Offering an anonymous way of providing questions, comments, and concerns helps drivers open up.
“The direct feedback that we get is very personalized,” Stevens says. “People feel much more open to share their honest thoughts because of the anonymous nature of the platform. There’s a ton of things we don’t see from an admin perspective or a management perspective that a driver might see on the road or in the shop. Getting that feedback and being able to try to solve those problems or make a change that’s beneficial to our driving force is crucial. The fact that it gives us that opportunity is priceless, honestly.”
While offering drivers a way to provide feedback is important in and of itself, the feedback doesn’t amount to much unless your company invests time and energy into it. When feedback is received through WorkHound, it is delivered to Wagner, who either handles the issue or hands the information off to someone who can take action. Quick and consistent action is important.
“I’m the guy who reads these comments every single day and feeds the information to those who need it,” Wagner says. “It’s important to begin my day knowing how the drivers are feeling, and over time, it’s given me a better picture of the morale in general. And it allows for some communication with one-way messaging to let them know they’re heard.”
The trucking industry as a whole is plagued by a trust issue — and that trust issue between drivers and leadership often leads to high turnover and retention issues. Communication plays a big role in determining whether a driver will stay or leave; it’s a make-it-or-break-it situation in many cases.
Stevens Trucking has been able to use WorkHound as a way of uncovering communication gaps before they turn into retention problems. Take this example:
“A few weeks ago, a driver said he was having trouble communicating with a dispatcher, but it was unclear which dispatcher it was,” Wagner says. “I asked him to reveal his identity so I could look into the issue, and he did. I asked him to give me a call, and he called within five minutes. I found out that the dispatcher was having some family issues and was in and out of the office. The driver’s loads were going between two dispatchers, and things were falling through the cracks. We got it squared away and back on track. It was something that would have led to a greater frustration with that driver — instead, he got me on the phone and I worked with dispatch to get it resolved really quickly. That’s only one instance, but we’ve had dozens of those where we can solve a relatively small problem that we would have previously seen grow and spiral and lead to drivers leaving. Being able to address problems at that stage means we can retain that driver, or at least gain trust and build a better relationship.”
While the partnership between WorkHound and Stevens Trucking is still relatively young, there’s already ample evidence that the feedback platform is making a difference. But what has been the biggest benefit?
“As a company, the retention is excellent,” Stevens says. “But the cultural boost is also important — building a level of camaraderie. There’s a lot of broken trust within the industry, and there’s a lot of admin vs. driver, when ultimately it should be admins working with drivers. Just being able to communicate with them that we’re here for their best interests has been so beneficial. We want them to know that we are seeing their feedback, they are being heard, and there is action being taken.”
To the leadership team, there’s no doubt about the benefit of the platform.
“It’s an avenue of communication that leads to greater trust and a better relationship,” Josh says. “And that relationship, if it builds and grows, is going to sustain us through the next rough patch with a driver. Whereas, if we didn’t have that trust and that relationship, the driver is going to walk.”