Ask Human Resources: How Can I Better Manage a Dispersed Workforce?
Great question! Engaging and managing a geographically dispersed workforce is a challenge most motor carriers struggle with, especially those trucking companies that utilize over-the-road drivers who may not see their home terminals for weeks on end. This is an issue that is expanding beyond drivers, though, as more and more companies are weighing the risks and benefits of utilizing remote employees.
While each motor carrier’s operation is different, here are some tips to consider that may help better engage and manage a geographically dispersed workforce:
Poor communication affects productivity, morale, and ultimately, the company’s turnover rate. Communication is a two-way street involving verbal and non-verbal cues. The benefit of communication tools like email, instant messaging (IM), or a phone call is that their use makes it easier to convey specific details which can be referenced later. However, do not discount the importance of non-verbal cues. An employee may be reluctant to share information or voice discontent, but managers and supervisors can pick up on non-verbal cues using video conferencing tools like Skype and Zoom.
Also, be mindful of cultural differences. The trucking industry uses personnel from many different cultural backgrounds. Be respectful of these differences in your communications, refrain from stereotyping, and encourage openness.
DEFINE PERFORMANCE MEASURES
Motivation and time management are two issues managers can face with remote employees. To overcome these challenges, hold all employees accountable by clearly defining performance objectives, such as on-time delivery, number of miles driven, safety standards, etc. Periodically review the employee’s performance to reinforce a job well done or to address any deficiencies. Employees want to know where they stand, but conveying evaluation results can be more difficult when a driver is not physically present, so be intentional about regular performance reviews.
ESTABLISH POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Written policies and procedures are needed to ensure the company’s products or services meet quality standards. Policies and procedures also make sure employees are treated fairly and without discrimination. Refer to company policies and procedures when evaluating a remote worker’s performance.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Remote employees, especially over-the-road drivers, may fixate on issues if they do not have an outlet to vent. This isolation is why keeping in contact with drivers – at least once daily – can help address concerns before they blow up and the driver starts thinking of leaving. Establish a call-in schedule so drivers feel like they are a part of the company family and aren’t forgotten.
CALL TO ACTION
- Develop written policies and procedures to define job functions, acceptable behavior, etc.
- Define measurable performance goals for remote employees and review these periodically.
- Utilize various technologies to keep in touch with drivers, like email, IM, and video conference.
- Create a call-in schedule to talk to drivers at least daily (and not during rest periods).
Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.
The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.
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