Driver morale rising, but pay questions persist

Truck driver morale

More drivers are talking about pay concerns and overall
morale as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data published
by Workhound.

The results, published on Friday, found that 26% of truck
driver comments to the anonymous communication platform focused on pay, which
was up 6% from the previous survey in the series. Morale also saw a boost, up
9% from the previous survey to 21% of comments.

Overall, 29% of all comments submitted related to COVID-19.
Other topics frequently discussed by drivers included sanitation, risk,
planning, work environment, availability of necessities and benefits.

Workhound offers employees the opportunity to provide anonymous
feedback on everything from working conditions, to life away from the job. That
feedback is provided to employers that can use the information to make
necessary changes in working conditions. The latest survey, compiled from
comments submitted to the platform form April 1 to 15, is the third in a series
that began once the coronavirus started impacting the industry.

“As comments around morale increased in the first half of
April, the two themes that were most prevalent in March – planning and sanitation
– decreased substantially,” the Workhound report stated. “Drivers’ initial
questions about how the company would respond to the pandemic, as well as
drivers’ requests for PPE and sanitation supplies, have largely been addressed,
which is reflected in this data.”

Only 22% of comments around morale offered pessimistic

“Many shared that they feel ‘all alone’ out on the road
without support,” the report said. “It is key for leadership to take a
proactive approach to clearly communicate support channels and changes in
policy to avoid potential misunderstandings. It is important to convey a sense
of unity and empathy for those that remain on the frontlines.”

Overall, though, fleets appear to be performing well when it
comes to supporting drivers. Optimistic comments represented 78% of those
submitted when it came to morale.

“A substantial portion of drivers acknowledge COVID-19 and
the challenges it represents, and then just get right back to work,” the report
said. “These drivers feel a sense of duty to keep their trucks moving and the
significance that has for the country. They also express gratitude to the
people working to support them and keep them rolling throughout the pandemic.”

When it came to pay, drivers were more focused on what
fleets could do, with many suggesting additional pay should be included to
compensate for the work and danger they are facing on a daily basis.

“I wish our bosses would see these dark days and not only
say ‘good work,’ but put at least more cents per mile in such days… ‘Good job’
is not enough when things in stores are now expensive,” one driver said. “I
wish you [would] look into that… It’s a very hard decision to make to be on
the road and nowhere to buy food, always eating McDonald’s sandwiches, driving
tired and weak because the body needs good food and the food is so expensive to
buy… That’s a lot of money to spend when we have families home which are

Other drivers asked for lease payments to be put on hold.
Some, though, expressed support for efforts their fleet has undertaken,
including boosting pay, bonuses and reimbursement for cleaning supplies.

“Just listened to the announcement on the pay change through
the pandemic and once again I am so grateful… Thank you for once again taking
care of me and my family,” one wrote.

In the previous survey, sanitation was a hot topic, and it
remained so in this survey, but the number of mentions dropped 8% to just 19%. A
common complaint was lack of proper safety equipment, but drivers also wanted
to be reassured that their companies cared about their wellbeing.

“Even the most basic precautions like frequently washing
one’s hands become impossible if soap is not available in terminal bathrooms,”
the report said. “Drivers expect their companies to be able to provide basic
necessities. Without them, drivers not only feel unsafe, but also

Risk and planning were also popular topics, with 17% of
conversations focused on risks that drivers felt and 16% mentioning planning in
some way.

“Many commenters just want to know that there are plans in
place to address this pandemic,” the report said. “These drivers express
frustrations that their company has not been forthcoming with information or
isn’t taking effective measures to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Additionally, drivers had questions on how to handle
customers that are closed and what to do if they became sick on the road. Many
drivers are interested in getting tested themselves before they head home and
bring the virus back to loved ones.

Fear of missing paychecks or losing their job was common
among those drivers mentioning work environment in their comments. About 12% of
comments focused on work. Necessities (3%) and benefits (2%) were also

Finally, Workhound noted that in the previous report, 4% of
drivers believed COVID-19 concerns were blown out of proportion or even untrue,
but by mid-April, the communication platform did not record a single instance
of this type of comment.