“Communication works for those who work at it.” - John Powell
One of the most effective tools you can utilize to increase driver retention is a simple one: communication. When it’s working for you, you’ll get more out of your team. And, when done properly, you’ll inspire loyalty among your team through active communication.
More specifically, we’re talking about feedback, essentially a dialogue between you and your drivers.
First of all, your drivers need to hear from you. A global engagement study showed that 31 per cent of employees wished their manager communicated more frequently with them. Don’t leave them guessing about how they’re doing.
You can start by offering positive feedback to your drivers on a regular basis. Sure, there are times when you need to express concerns about performance or offer correction. But it shouldn’t be lop-sided. A Harvard Business Review study placed the ideal ratio between positive and negative suggestions at 5.6 (positive) to 1 (corrective).
Keep in mind this needs to be a dialogue, which means it has to go both ways. It’s called a feedback “loop” for a reason, after all. One study showed that 90 per cent of workers reported being more likely to stay with a company that takes and acts on feedback. Make certain you listen to your drivers, give them plenty of opportunities to share, and take action on what they say.
If your first thought for getting driver feedback is to put up a suggestion box in your drivers’ lounge or common area, stop right there! That may get some response, but we think you can do much better than that for connecting with your drivers and getting meaningful engagement in the form of useful feedback.
In a previous blog post, we mentioned the value of growing your online presence and using it to recognize your fleet's team members on an individual basis. Drivers and support staff can be acknowledged and applauded for going above and beyond in their daily efforts. This goes a long way towards developing an environment where employees feel their contributions are valued while also demonstrating company culture. By showing that you value and appreciate your team members you'll help build driver loyalty.
Use Your Online Platforms to Solicit Driver Feedback
In addition to using your online presence as a truck driver retention tool, recognize it as a two-way communication tool. As well as using your website and social media platforms to celebrate employees, you can also use these channels to solicit feedback from your team.
In addition to being seen, employees want to be heard. Yes, you probably do annual performance reviews, but why wait for once a year to hear what your drivers have to say about issues within the company?
Give your drivers the opportunity to express themselves when you plan your social media schedule with posts that will solicit engagement. Ask your team to voice their opinions and share ideas and suggestions on matters related to your trucking company. Give them a chance to chime in on posts that discuss issues directly and indirectly related to your industry. Be sure as well, to include some posts that are on the less serious side and give your drivers a chance to let their individual personalities shine through.
By giving them a platform to connect on, you'll be offering your drivers a chance to learn more about each other. This can help you build a stronger team while alleviating some of the solitude of being on the road. You'll also strengthen the connection your team has and build a sense of belonging that will make your drivers more likely to stay. Potential drivers also see this as a positive signal when they’re evaluating whether your company is a good fit for them.
Of course, not all feedback should be conducted in a public forum. There are some conversations you'll want to have behind closed doors where clients and the general public can't "listen in".
It's also important to recognize that not everyone feels comfortable speaking up in front of others (even on platforms like Facebook) and you may find only a core group will regularly contribute. This doesn't mean those "quiet" ones don't have opinions or suggestions, only that they'd rather have a different channel for contributing.
Utilize Driver Management Software
For trucking companies using ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software, that private communications channel could already exist. Software service solutions, like the kind that TruckRight provides, offer tools for engagement that allow you to keep in touch with your drivers even while they're on the road. With proper planning, you can use these tools to solicit employee feedback.
Using TruckRight's TR Connect, you can set up a targeted event and have it reach send via email or text. The targets can be based on Location, Position, Employment Category, Employment Status, and Priority. Each type of message (if sent by email) can be sent out with a specific email address attached to it, allowing for responses and feedback.
Additionally, many companies also use forms within TruckRight that their drivers can fill out after orientation, at 90 days, and at one year, etc., to provide. All of this can help you to get the feedback you need to develop a better understanding of your drivers, what's important to them, and how you can help support them better.
The value of utilizing tools within your software is that you can reach your team quickly using the platforms they prefer while providing a degree of privacy that can foster more candid feedback.
A Personal Touch Still Works
Naturally, you'll still want to leave room for direct feedback. There's nothing wrong with going "old school" when it comes to communicating. Having an open-door policy and reminding drivers that you want to hear from them about issues or concerns is the best way to ensure your team feels they can talk to you.
However you and your drivers choose to communicate, make sure you listen to them and respond so that they feel heard. This is important if you actually want to get feedback from your drivers. As one source suggested, 26 per cent of employees withhold information around workplace problems or ideas from management because they believe sharing it is futile and will not affect change.
You may not be able to act on every suggestion, but by acknowledging contributions and delivering action on some of the feedback you receive, your drivers will feel they're working for a company that values them.
Beyond retaining drivers, you’ll find there's a good business case for improved communication with your team: businesses scoring highest for employee engagement, were 22 per cent higher in profitability and saw a 21 per cent increase in productivity.
Make sure you're communicating frequently and effectively in an open dialogue with your team. Along with all your other efforts, utilizing your team's feedback will go far towards improving driver retention.
And, if you’d like help with improving your retention rates for your trucking company, get in touch to see how TruckRight’s software solutions can benefit you.