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More praise in WorkHound report, but overall employee satisfaction dips slightly

WorkHound’s Annual Trends Report showed that drivers and other logistics employees were a little less happy in 2022 than they were a year earlier, but when they liked something, they were more willing to talk about it. 

“One of the biggest findings was that praise was the top theme,” Max Farrell, CEO of WorkHound, told FreightWaves. “In the past it was always more blocking and tackling, equipment, logistics. Those had been the themes, so it is really surprising that praise surged the way it did.”

Comments that could be classified as praise totaled almost 25,000 out of a total just under 100,000, and it was the category that received the single biggest number of responses submitted to WorkHound.

WorkHound provides its trucking clients with a platform that can be distributed to their drivers and other employees. From there, all sorts of anonymous feedback can be submitted through the app that eventually makes its way to the trucking company, along with a WorkHound customer success employee. 

Those comments can then be divided by categories depending on the subject matter they are addressing. And for 2022, for the first time, comments that were categorized as “praise” led the list as measured by quantity. 

Farrell said the increase in praise comments was not surprising because, in his view, “companies are working harder to take care of their people and I think that is starting to show.

“It’s a sign that not everything out there is awful all the time,” Farrell said. “When drivers are sharing feedback, there is a majority of feedback that is constructive criticism. When you factor in all the other themes, I think it is a health indicator of a lot of good being shared out there and we lose sight of it. “ 

The number of praise comments shot up to about 25,000 from 11,000 a year earlier, Farrell said. 

But that didn’t stop the overall satisfaction score from declining slightly. On a scale of 1 to 10, the satisfaction grade slid to 6.56 in 2022 from 6.7 a year earlier. 

Farrell said given past satisfaction scores that have landed in the range between 6.5 and 6.7, “the baseline for the industry is hovering near there.”

With the overall satisfaction score down, going through the data does reveal where there are still areas of unhappiness. The areas of pay and communication both came in with the worst dissatisfaction scores, as almost 63% of comments on communication were negative and just under 60% were negative on pay.

“The low-hanging fruit is communication,” Farrell said about how companies can use WorkHound’s data to improve operations, adding that many of the issues identified in the survey with high negatives were at “the intersection” with that of communication. 

Although the biggest theme of the Workhound report and Farrell’s comments were about the strong numbers in the praise category, the report does not sugarcoat the negative comments either when they were reproduced verbatim.

Here’s an example: “It’s the same stuff. I submitted a response and no call back after saying you would. I’m still disappointed with how the routes changes. Also, if I’m on a set daily pay why is my pay shortened?”

In the report, WorkHound said many of the negative pay comments “were about misunderstanding pay structure, and others pointed to a lack of communication around pay process.”

In his comments to FreightWaves, Farrell said a recurring theme is “recruiters setting false expectations because the drivers are then trying to achieve a pay amount they are never going to hit.”

Comments including praise were 24% of all feedback. The people category had positive feedback in 42% of the comments, and the home time category had 31% positive feedback. Critical comments accounted for about 17.8% of all comments, up from 16.5% a year earlier. So although praise comments shot up in total, the percentage of negative comments rose at the same time. (It does not add up to 100% because not all comments fall into the criticism or praise categories.)

Other areas had a significant jump in responses, as the total came in just under 100,000 from 32,600 drivers spread among 109 carriers. That comment total was up 59% from a year earlier. 

The “value proposition” at WorkHound, which attracted a $12 million investment from Level Equity last year, is that drivers and other employees can use the app to submit comments to their employers in what Farrell has called a “feedback loop.” 

If the worker allows it, his or her identity can be revealed on the request of the employer so management can deal with the issue directly. WorkHound calls this a reach-out request. 

Another feedback channel is a one-time message in which a note can be sent to the employer even as the worker retains anonymity. But in about 22% of cases, the worker does permit WorkHound to reveal his or her identity.

Farrell said there is a new feature in WorkHound that takes the one-time message feature and expands it to allow back-and-forth communication, even while the identity of the worker is not revealed. 

Review of the comments is conducted on what Farrell called a “hybrid approach,” through automated review and a dedicated customer success team. “We are always looking at how we improve our analysis,” he said. 

Among some of the other key statistical points in this year’s survey:

  • WorkHound’s footprint has grown significantly. Just two years ago, it processed approximately 38,500 comments. In 2022, it came in just shy of the 100,000 mark. Average comments per driver was 3.07, and in the last three years, that number has always been around 3.
  • The company count did not rise much, to 109 in 2022 from 104 in 2021. But it was 64 in 2020.
  • Comments on people came in at 42% positive and 18% neutral. “With approximately 6 in 10 comments about people being either positive or neutral, it’s clear that truck drivers are willing to recognize others,” the report said.