In the transit industry, employee engagement is a tough nut to crack. You’re dealing primarily with a mobile workforce that doesn’t spend a lot of time in a central office, which makes internal communications difficult. The closest thing you probably have to an employee engagement platform is your notice board — which drivers, truckers, mechanics, engineers, and other deskless employees may or may not glance at before going on shift.
Should these important workers have access to the same kinds of employee engagement activities that their in-office colleagues enjoy? Absolutely! But one of the biggest challenges transit companies have faced is that there has been no robust two-way employee communication solution that would give employees in the field access to important policy information, route updates, internal news, vehicle manuals, and more.
Now there is. Blink is a mobile intranet app for transportat ion companies that puts all of the tools and information workers in the field need to succeed on the devices they’re already using. In this post, we’re going to take a look at why employee engagement is important, what it looks like in the transit industry, and why using an employee app is better than using a company intranet when your workforce is widely spread out and on the move.
Why Is Employee Engagement Important in the Transit Industry?
Employee engagement matters whether you’re in an office or behind the wheel. Employees who feel engaged feel that they have a role to play in making your company successful and will be motivated by more than just their paycheck.
Most importantly, engaged employees stick around. That’s huge when you consider that transit companies end up spending thousands of dollars each time they need to replace a driver, mechanic, or other employee. In the trucking sector (which has a turnover rate of almost 100%), replacing drivers costs roughly $3-5 billion annually. Imagine what you could invest in if you could keep more of that money!
There’s also efficiency and customer service to consider when you’re running a transportation company. Your workers on the road are dealing with the unexpected, day in and day out, and it’s important that they are able to give riders a safe, comfortable experience no matter what route changes or hazards they encounter. Drivers who have an employee engagement tool like Blink handy know they can easily access all of the information they need to do a great job — even when the conditions on the road are always changing.
Ultimately, engaged employees are safer employees. MUCH safer! Across industries, workers who feel engaged make fewer mistakes, have fewer accidents, and do their jobs better. This is especially important when you’re looking at the output of employees who are behind the wheel. As engagement goes up, distracted driving goes down significantly because your drivers and truckers are focused on doing a great job, not lost in a daydream.
Just because an unengaged employee hasn’t had a safety incident yet, doesn’t mean there haven’t been any close calls. While some employers don’t document near-miss situations, safety professionals say employers who do track near misses can better prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. This is important because successful organization-wide near-miss reporting has been shown to deliver up to a 75% decrease in recorded safety incidents. Better yet, during the test phase for Blink’s near-miss reporting microapp, the UK bus line, Stagecoach, saw a 20x increase versus the baseline of usage. This type of ongoing reporting not only provides another way for you to spot less engaged employees but also helps to create a safer work environment for everyone.
What Employee Engagement Looks Like in the Transit Industry
It’s obvious that when a workforce is spread out or on the move as it is at transit and transportation companies, engaging employees can be hard. Before mobile intranet apps like Blink, you could communicate with your deskless workers using a notice board or in-the-cab communications. There might be a route book that drivers would check each shift before heading to the yard.
You may have even tried implementing a basic intranet system, hoping that your employees would check it at home. But studies have shown that what drivers and other employees at transit and transportation companies actually want are two-way communication opportunities plus more opportunities for mobile digital communications. When you give your employees these opportunities, your company will reap the benefits.
Employee Engagement Looks Like Big Savings
When drivers, engineers, and other employees in the field feel like they can communicate their ideas and concerns and have the resources on hand that they need to do great work, they know that they are contributing value to your company and feel emotionally invested in what they do each day. As a result, they’re less likely to job hop or to respond to recruitment efforts from other companies, and your company will save a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on training new employees. Blink has a proven track record of improving employee turnover rates—including a 2.7% improvement in the pilot depots. If you assume it costs £4,000 to train a bus driver, and around £2,000 to recruit one, then a 2.7% reduction in turnover would save £162,000 per 1,000 drivers per year!
Employee Engagement Looks Like Better, Safer Customer Service
When you use Blink to put routes in the Hub (versus in a notebook at dispatch), your drivers arrive at work are ready to roll and can hit the road on time every day. When engineers have the documentation and manuals they need to fix issues in the palms of their hands in Blink, mechanical issues are fixed faster, which means you consistently have more buses, trains, or trucks on the road. And when shift schedules, road closures, and assignment updates are posted to each employee’s Feed, they’ll know what to expect before the start of each shift and won’t hit their routes frustrated by unexpected changes.
Employee Engagement Looks Like Growth
Finding time to offer skills training can be tough when most of your workforce is behind the wheel, in the garage, or working dispatch. Scattering pamphlets around the break room doesn’t cut it. Blink can help you empower your employees to invest in their careers by helping you schedule ongoing education and training for your most motivated workers.
Employee Engagement Looks Like Worker Satisfaction
While employee engagement and employee satisfaction aren’t the same things, the steps you take to increase engagement will also boost satisfaction. Disengagement has been a big problem in the transit and transportation industries for a long time because drivers, engineers, mechanics, and other workers have had very little direct contact with colleagues and managers.
Bringing your deskless workers into the fold—by giving them a platform where they can share feedback and ideas or just communicate with coworkers — is one of the best ways to increase satisfaction across departments. Blink’s engagement app makes all of your employees feel like valuable members of your team.
Why Communication Is an Important Element of Employee Engagement
You may have noticed that most of the employee engagement strategies outlined above rely in some way on internal communications, whether that means giving workers a place to voice their concerns, putting HR materials somewhere accessible from anywhere, or helping individual knowledge become collective knowledge by allowing people to collaborate easier.
At a lot of transit companies, employees cannot give or get feedback, access the information they need about shift and route changes, or connect with colleagues without disconnecting from their primary tasks. Communication either interrupts the flow of the day or has to take place well outside of posted working hours—both scenarios that can end up frustrating employees to the point of resignation.
Why Blink Is the Best Mobile Tech Solution for Transit Companies
Internal comms can be a big problem in the transit industry, but using a customizable employee app like Blink can help your company overcome the barriers that used to make engaging frontline employees and giving them opportunities to participate in employee engagement activities so challenging. With Blink, you can meet your employees where they are.
Blink recently ran a four-week pilot program with a UK bus company, Stagecoach, that proved so successful that the Senior Leadership team decided to roll the app out to their entire workforce (22,000 employees, the majority of whom were bus drivers). The company had tried all kinds of employee engagement strategies before Blink, but none improved employee engagement, the employee experience, and customer satisfaction as expected. Blink, on the other hand, was a big hit with drivers.
Though these drivers had very different levels of technical aptitude, 84% of their employees were active on Blink (78% every day) with the average driver opening the app six times per day. At the same time, their on-time departure rates went up by 5%, which improved the customer experience. And a survey of drivers at the end of the pilot showed 100% of them would recommend Blink to a colleague.
How Your Company Can Increase Employee Engagement with Blink
Implementing a new piece of technology is only the first step when it comes to employee engagement. While Blink is intuitive and user-friendly, how you use it will determine how much of an impact it has at your company. Here are ways you can maximize engagement among your workers with Blink:
1. Lead the Charge
Employee engagement is all about communication, so make sure you are serious about communicating via the app. Populate the app with as much useful information (e.g., calendars and schedules) as you can before rolling it out, make sure that your employees see that you’re using the app, don’t let any questions posted in the app go unanswered, and post opportunities for training and activities right in the app.
2. Post Important Information in the App
Make it company policy to keep any and all vital information, from benefits details to route updates, in the app. Be sure all employees know that they can access the resources they need at any time.
3. Respect Your Employees’ Roles
A lot of worker frustration stems from workflow interruptions — especially when employees have to stop everything to go to a meeting or communicate with a manager. Blink reduces frustration among drivers, truckers, mechanics, engineers, and other deskless transportation workers by reducing the number of meetings, emails, and other interruptions. The end result is that your employees will spend more time doing what they do best.
4. Track Usage and Reward Compliance
Make regular feedback a part of your employee engagement strategy, and be sure that feedback includes giving accolades to those workers who are engaging with the app. With Blink, you can see which employees are opening and interacting with the app and which may need to be reminded about what the app can do.
5. Use Blink’s Polling Feature Regularly
Your employees behind the wheel or in the garage may have ideas, concerns, or even complaints that they’re not willing to share face to face but would divulge in an anonymous poll. One of the very first things you should ask is what roadblocks are keeping them from doing their best in their current role and whether they feel like their contribution is valued. The answers you receive will give you a starting point from which you can evolve your company’s employee engagement strategies.
6. Encourage Employees to Connect Outside of Work
While off-hours social activities should never be mandatory, you should definitely look for ways to encourage colleagues to get to know one another outside of work. Invite employees to post social events right in Blink, and you’ll see engagement go up as employees who wouldn’t normally interact with one another at work begin to form strong bonds.
In the transit industry, the best thing you can do to improve engagement among your employees is to help them feel more connected to your company and to your colleagues. Boosting engagement can be challenging when your workforce is so spread out — and constantly on the move in the case of drivers and truckers — but it’s possible!
When you use a tool like Blink to communicate more effectively with employees, give them a voice so comms feels like a two-way street, recognize their contributions and make them feel valued, and reach them where they are, they’ll respond by going above and beyond on every shift — which in turn will mean a greater return on your investment.
Blink is the employee engagement app that can bring your frontline transit workers into the fold. Try it out today! Request a Demo