Dealing with Non-Tech Savvy Drivers
Trucking is multi-generational. Drivers in their 60s and 70s are seasoned, have navigated hundreds of thousands of miles of road, and have a lot to teach. But a common issue facing trucking companies today is introducing new tech to older drivers. Why is this important, and how do you change minds successfully?
To a previous generation of truckers, digital technology wasn’t necessary, but the fact is, it is now. With drivers spread over the region or over the country, technology allows you to track, communicate, and follow up like never before, and brings crucial consistency to operations and Safety, from training to record keeping.
It may be hard convincing non-tech savvy drivers to say goodbye to flip phones. But these days, that’s not an excuse. There are plenty of solutions to help your non-tech savvy drivers change their habits and get comfortable with the tools that keep them, and your business, safe for the long haul.
Make it easy
One of the best ways to make positive change and keep drivers happy is to meet them halfway.
At Infinit-I, we provide over 800 online trucker training modules for our clients, so that each driver gets the specific training he or she needs, anywhere, any time. Our online training is flexible, customizable, absolutely consistent, saves time and money, and micro-learning sessions help with retention. Ultimately, this method of training is far easier on your staff, your budget, and your drivers. How do you get non-tech savvy drivers on board?
Bring the tech and the Internet to them. If drivers don’t want to invest in smartphones for themselves, they can go to a location you provide, such as a computer station in a terminal, and complete online training there. This solution works best for drivers who remain in the locality. If you work with more remote drivers, you may choose to offer company tablets so that any driver without a smartphone can still have WiFi capability. The easier you make it for drivers to access technology, the more likely it is they will stay “on the grid.”
We all work better when we’re rewarded. But good performance starts with you. Top quality, consistent training is non-negotiable for retaining drivers and building a culture of safety. Provide the best, and then reward drivers for taking advantage of it. Even when cooperation isn’t optional, rewards can still be a win-win.
Build safety and performance bonuses into your strategy. In order for incentives to lead to compliance, make required training modules a prerequisite. Once a driver completes training, he or she is now eligible to win safety and performance bonuses. No matter how great a driver he or she is, bonuses are out of reach without completing the vital training that keeps them on top and keeps you covered legally.
You can also pay drivers for training. Payment can come built into the structure of employment in your company—for example, as part of a union contract.
Because some tech-based solutions are crucial to business, there are times when a penalty is appropriate. However, you don’t want to alienate some of your best drivers—truckers who earned their stripes on the road before some of your other drivers were even born. Being heavy-handed creates strife. The key to penalizing is your approach.
Instead of terminating, pull drivers from dispatch. If a driver will not complete training, first ask: Have you done everything you can? Then, after listening carefully and offering what you can to make it easy, if a driver will still not comply, don’t go straight to firing. It’s bad for morale and can cost $10,000 or more to fire and replace one person. Instead, let the driver know you’ll be pulling him or her from dispatch until required training is complete. This communicates that you’re serious, without breaking a relationship too soon.
Read a Q+A with BR Williams Trucking VP of Operations Allan Hicks about how he implemented Infinit-I and won ATA Safety Director of the Year.
Be transparent from the start
You determine company culture. When employees know what to expect, change is easier, because no one feels taken off guard. You’re also covered, because you have communicated clearly, and those not willing to comply may save you the trouble by dropping out of the applicant pool before they’re hired.
Make “tech-spectations” part of regular communication. From orientation onward, drivers need to understand why you’re asking them to participate in online training, and why you’ll be requiring continuing ed. Drivers need to stay safe on the road, aware of changing laws and regulations, and both you and they need to protect yourselves from litigation in the case of an accident. Here are some effective methods:
- Show examples of lawsuits that affected companies and drivers who did not keep up proper training and records of due diligence.
- Make an explanatory video starring your CEO. Employees often react positively to a personal word from a company head. Just make sure the information is clear, and the presentation is relatable.
- Make change a company-wide rollout. Make sure you talk to drivers individually to let them know about the transition and do it across the board.
Finally, emphasize the benefits to drivers. Besides protecting themselves in lawsuits, securing their jobs, and developing as professionals, online training saves drivers time, bother, and money. They can finish modules during wait times, for example, instead of parking their trucks during a workday or using their hard-earned days off for safety meetings. Yes, there will be a brief learning curve. But ask them, “Which would you rather do on a Saturday, be with your family, or be sitting in this room with me?” No matter how much they like you, the answer is obvious.
Engage drivers, and build a network of protection around your business. We’d love to help you. Request a live demo of Infinit-I and see for yourself.