Two Challenges Unique to the Transportation Industry

The world of transportation never rests. From dairy haulers whose schedules shadow those of the cows, to long-distance freight drivers who work for days at a time, to the dispatchers who man phone lines all through the night–the trucking industry has employees on the clock 24/7 and 365.

For many, the perpetual activity makes this an exciting line of work. It does present unique challenges, however – and their unconventional quality means that creative and innovative approaches are required to address them. Here are two such difficulties faced by the transportation industry when it comes to ensuring exemplary service and reliable transport:

Two Unique Challenges:

    1. Oversight

It’s the nature of the job that drivers have a great deal of autonomy while they’re away from the terminal. For the most part this is a great thing – and it’s definitely an advantage for drivers who value the independence of a job on the open road. This lack of oversight can be problematic, however, since it’s difficult to motivate or appraise employees without the insight into their work that comes from actually seeing them perform.

In part, technological innovations (such as E-Logs) help with this issue; they record details of drivers’ work, including their idling times and fuel economy. The data they record can help give managers a sense of a driver’s performance, even if they can’t witness it in person. This can assist companies that want to establish systems for evaluating staff, providing feedback, recognizing great work, and holding staff accountable for their work. Still, it’s not as comprehensive as in-person evaluations (quality of customer service, for example, is not measurable by electronic tracking devices…), which means that there’s still work to be done to find effective and meaningful ways to appraise drivers in all aspects of their work.

    1. Communication

Another challenge of such decentralized work is that it can be difficult to communicate with the whole team about important news and changes. In some ways these challenges can be lessened through the use of technology. Mobile phones and internet video conferencing can help bring people together for a meeting, despite long distances. But often communication difficulties are the result of different schedules or the demands of a job that involves spending most of your waking time behind the wheel – not just different locations. Finally, the fact that there are multiple channels of communication for reaching drivers can sometimes complicate the situation. These are complex hurdles requiring creative solutions, especially as a company grows, and thus must be priorities for the industry as it moves forward.

The nature of this industry makes it unlikely that we’ll find the silver bullet that solves all of our challenges. Instead, we need to make it a priority to keep trying to connect with our employees through the best means available, depending on the situation. The best solutions, in other words, are flexibility and a commitment to keep trying.