• ITVI.USA
    13,924.900
    3.330
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.080
    -0.170
    -0.8%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,904.220
    5.970
    0%
  • TLT.USA
    2.650
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.480
    0.060
    2.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.190
    0.050
    2.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.400
    0.180
    14.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.730
    0.160
    6.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.440
    0.040
    2.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.870
    -0.010
    -0.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
  • ITVI.USA
    13,924.900
    3.330
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.080
    -0.170
    -0.8%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,904.220
    5.970
    0%
  • TLT.USA
    2.650
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.480
    0.060
    2.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.190
    0.050
    2.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.400
    0.180
    14.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.730
    0.160
    6.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.440
    0.040
    2.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.870
    -0.010
    -0.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
Driver issuesNewsTrucking

Driver morale rising, but pay questions persist

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 views.

“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 starving.”

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 disrespected.”

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 mentioned.

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.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and fleetowner.com. Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.

8 Comments

  1. I’m in the Detroit area, thousands of trucks sitting, and many on unemployment collecting roughly $1000 a week to sit. I have seen some carriers offer up to .75 a mile to lure drivers in, and of course it is all a scam, sliding pay scales, mover’s guide mileage, pay holdbacks, etc. The same old BS. I was speaking to a recruiter about employment, as I have parked my truck. Nice guy, and he was telling me how many of their dedicated drivers will NOT be offered to return to their old job when the Big 3 fires back up, as they did not want to go back OTR, and the company did not want them back. I looked at him and kind of chuckled, and asked him why would they want to come back? Uncle Sugar is paying them $300 more a week to sit at home. The look on his face was priceless. 😉

  2. If you guys are fearing getting sick on the road, and you get this bug that is seizing up your lungs, make sure you can get a hold of at least 3 Z-Packs. I am going through my second round of this bug, many of my friends have it too. It is bacterial, and I am locked up here in the burbs of Detroit under house arrest until this BS ends. If you have allergies it seems to be more severe, I have allergies, smoke and am in my mid 50’s.

    You need to have at least two, preferably THREE Z-Packs. Take them until they are gone, as one Z-Pack is not enough to knock this bug out, it will come back. I could barely breath, it is UPPER respiratory, with some coughing up of clear, sometimes yellowish mucous. And forget lying down to sleep, I had to sit upright to breathe. I called my doc, got the Z-Pack and within two to three hours I was breathing normally. Sadly, within a week it was back, so now I am hitting it again hard with the Z-Packs, they work for this bug, breathing normally again within two hours. No clue what this is, as it has all of the symptoms of Covid, just no fever. I asked about testing, there are no tests available in the Detroit area, even though they say there are… Interesting eh?

    Prescriptions, Walmart and Meijer should run you around $75 or less for three packs without insurance. With insurance, around $10 for three packs, just have your primary doctor call in the script. Or your dentist… Hope this helps.

  3. Many truck drivers and owners ops are not happy with current pay rates. The freight rates are too low to even pay company truck drivers current pay rates. One well run company that had almost 100 company trucks in Dec of 2018 plus another 150 plus owner ops last summer was down to 60 company trucks last dec running and 90 owner ops. He told all his company drivers that if they wanted to stay home he would continue to pay for medical insurance and they can get the government check. He now has 14 company trucks running and almost 90 parked with no insurance on them and still has 70 owner ops running at this time. Many of the owners ops will sign over the truck for the note on it.

    1. I have one friend running, his truck was repo’d two months ago, he is now a company driver pulling a reefer for a small O/O. My other buddies and myself, we own our trucks, no notes, free and clear, we are all sitting. I parked last year after turning off the authority, just no longer worth it. My other buddies are leased to a carrier, they are working maybe once or twice a month, van work. Another friend, he is working for a local carrier, their fleet is down to around 20 trucks from hundreds. He keeps begging them to lay him off, unemployment pays better. They run him once a week, overnight runs and then back home, he is drinking lots of beer.

  4. After I deliver tomorrow I’ll be dead heading 2,000 mi to the house and parking my truck and never to return to the industry after 24 years,

  5. After the “Pandemic” our boss dropped our pay 20%. After only running less than 3000 miles in 13 days I came home indefinitely.
    The real S.O.B. is he got a PPP loan. But that 75% for payroll will go to his children. Can’t let a crisis go to waste; the epitome of greed. Gotta love a small family owned business. God; this is the WORST industry in America.

  6. Okay, these comments are helping me understand the weird behaviors when I attempt to pass some truckers.
    I get abreast of them, giving them a chance to read the “contracted to FedEx Ground” on my door, and THEN they speed up, blocking me from passing. Cannot understand the hostility, or is it just stupidity?

    FedEx Ground is doing fine, the sorters are getting overtime on Saturday and Sunday, etc. Is envy the problem?

    I’ve done the automotive milk runs, to Universal Romulus, and I can sympathize with the driver’s miserable attitudes. That job sucks, what with the various shipping departments holdIng you until the school buses are parked. Oh, and Lear, in Indy, has the bathroom blocked with a table, and Mimi tells you “to go to McDonalds”.

    Get a doubles endorsement, you can definitely do worse than line-haul at FedEx.

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