Labor shortages in logistics are probably not news to you, especially when it comes to truck drivers. The headlines speak for themselves: “Truck driver shortage is raising prices, delaying deliveries,” “Driver shortage, capacity and economic growth will make for a hot year of transport” and “Truck driver shortages expected to increase oil prices and constrain supply.” I hear about this problem from transportation companies and logistics service providers every day.
When it is difficult to find new staff, it is essential to have a good employee retention strategy in place. Driving satisfaction is crucial. But how do you keep your drivers happy? In this blog, I will share three tips to help you keep them engaged and motivated.
Forewarned is forearmed
Keeping an employee (or charter) well informed has a positive effect on his/her satisfaction. People like to know what to expect. Inform your drivers about their shifts, providing as much nuance as possible. Where will they be loading and unloading? What is the easiest way to get there? Which truck and trailer should they choose and when do they start their shift?
At this point, you are probably thinking this is easier said than done. Providing all this information can be time-consuming. Sending every one of them a text message or an e-mail can take several hours per day. Planners have better things to do with their time. They should be focusing on exceptions and driving improvements. With new possibilities offered by automation, planners don’t have to shift their focus.
Information flows can be easily automated by sending text messages from your Advanced Planning System (APS), as it already contains all the necessary information on schedules, trips, shifts and materials. Why text messages? You can get a confirmation when the message is received and therefore, you can easily see which drivers have yet to be informed in your APS dashboard. Text messages also work well in areas with no (or poor) 3G/4G reception. Of course, you can also work with WhatsApp messages, your own app or e-mails, for example.
Feasible planning is king
Regardless of how well informed a driver may be, sending someone out on an assignment with a non-feasible or barely feasible schedule will give them a lot of stress. And not only that: deliveries that arrive later than expected have a negative impact on customer satisfaction. When distances increase or when more stops are added, routes get more complex and prone to errors. What about traffic jams and the weather? These can also affect a driver’s schedule as well. There are many variables involved in each trip. Understandably, it is hard for planners to take everything into account. That is precisely what an APS can do. Using algorithms, an APS can calculate large amounts of data very quickly. That data can come from multiple sources, with optimized feasible routes as a result. Consider using an APS to ease the stress on your planners and drivers, and improve satisfaction all around.
It is good to have well-informed drivers, but giving them a say is even better. You can do so in various ways.
For example, you can allow them to influence their work schedule. You can enable employees to request days off with an app linked to a workforce scheduling system, or provide insight into scheduled and worked hours, or accrued overtime. That way, drivers can make holiday plans at home on the couch with their partner, and request those days off at the same time. You can also have them sign up for shifts or allow them to swap shifts among themselves via the app. Giving drivers influence over their work schedule increases employee engagement.
You can also give drivers a say in the routes they drive. Drivers are the eyes and ears of the company. They know what’s happening on the road. They are literally on it. Sometimes roads are temporarily closed, or turn out to be inaccessible for trucks. Allowing drivers to comment on the route gives planners access to valuable information that can be used for route improvements. Drivers see that their feedback is being used, which will increase their engagement.
In summary, to keep your drivers happy:
- Keep them well informed
- Unburden them through feasible schedules
- Increase their engagement by fostering participation and involvement