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Leah Kaminsky-Levy
March 30, 2020

What Drivers Need in Times of Crisis

Now more than ever it’s not hard to see how essential drivers and delivery people are to keeping economies running the world over. Even as shelter-in-place orders are issued in locality after locality, drivers are still getting essential online orders to doorsteps, medical supplies to hospitals and clinics, gas to gas stations, food to grocery stores, and well, everything to everywhere. They’re doing it despite the risks to their health and under stressful conditions, significantly increased demand, lengthened hours, and stretched resources.

Delivery driver driving van with parcels on seat outside warehouse

The costs of employee turnover are high — the costs of lost employee contributions and productivity, the costs of running a job search, and the larger immeasurable impact on morale. What’s more, it takes time to ramp up new employees. Right now, it’s more important than ever to keep drivers happy on the job. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Ask Them How They’re Doing

Showing employees you care starts with simply talking to them. You can do this informally with casual conversation — a nice “how are you holding up?” after a long shift can go a long way. Alternatively, you could get more formal by sending out a survey through an app like SurveyMonkey, Google or Microsoft Forms, or Doodle.

Then, listen. As in, really do it! If drivers mention needing new technology, give them whatever your budget can afford. If they complain about how they’re being routed, look for better routing software. If they’re so busy they’re missing meals, provide a meal or two for them, or a per diem so they can buy themselves. The bottom line can wait. Right now, it’s time to invest in employee needs.

If Possible, Offer Incentives and Feedback

Again, if there’s any room in the budget, now is a great time to offer incentives for a job well done. Gift cards, an extra $100 in their paychecks, or an incentive of your employees’ choosing could follow a 100 days without an accident, a month without any mishandled items, or a constant stream of thumbs up from your driver safety tracking software. Increased pay for overtime is also effective.

Always offer feedback to your drivers, so they know both how they might improve and where they’re knocking it out of the park. Where criticism is necessary, keep it constructive, be concrete, and approach it from the standpoint of “we’re all on the same team, trying to reach our individual and group potential.”

Don’t Ignore Labor and Safety Laws

With demand so high and in some cases, urgent, it’s tempting to push drivers to put many more miles on the odometer—and hey, they may even want to as a way that they can help. But now is not the time to fall afoul of driver safety transportation laws. Tired drivers are a safety hazard, as are vehicles that have been pushed too hard and are in need of repair. What’s more, driver stress, even at moments of solidarity, drives down job satisfaction. So make sure to keep those hours reasonable, even if it means quickly hiring new drivers.

Train Them Properly

On that note, if you do wind up taking new members onto your workforce, it’s important to make the time to train them properly. Clear expectations are also key to driver satisfaction, as it helps them understand what it means to do a great job. For veteran drivers, offering further training opportunities, especially those that they request, will help them feel like you’re invested in the long term growth of their careers.

Once you’ve got them trained, however, it’s important to show your drivers that you trust and believe in them. Give them more responsibility and autonomy, recognize good work, and don’t micromanage them.

Keep Them Healthy

A healthy diet helps keep drivers’ minds clear and focused on the road. Finding healthy food can be difficult on the road, especially when in a rush, so try providing healthy choices at the warehouse for them to take along with them, or offering gift cards to grocery stores or healthy chains along your drivers’ routes. Additionally, encourage your drivers to practice good habits like stopping to stretch with apps available on their smartphones.

Pay On Time

It should go without saying: paying on time and on a regular schedule is essential to keeping drivers happy, especially when they’ve been working a lot of overtime.

Make Communication Effective, Reliable, and Efficient

Ask a driver what they’re biggest frustration at work is, and they’re more than likely to mention a lack of or poor communication. Without good communication, little of what we’ve discussed so far can happen. Connecting with your drivers with a daily meeting can help set the right tone for the day. Sending positive feedback and encouragement also helps.

More than anything, as drivers make their way along their routes, make sure they have an easy and efficient way to receive new assignments and updates from dispatch. The Zello Dispatch Hub allows drivers to call into one centralized channel, where they’re entered into a call queue for dispatchers to answer as they become available. This removes the need for drivers to redial channels — a distraction on the road — and ensure that they’re heard and helped. Zello works in tandem with routing software. In this time more than ever, as road conditions may change rapidly and routes shift to accommodate a flood of new orders, it’s important for drivers and dispatchers to be able to connect and reroute at a moment’s notice.

Learn More About Dispatch Hub

These are difficult times, so here’s one to all of the drivers who are keeping economies the world over running and our medical system well-stocked and ready to go!