Employee communication allied to the use of technology is at the heart of driver management best practice, says Fleet Service GB

Poor employee communication equals poor policy equals poor outcomes is the verdict of Fleet Service Great Britain (Fleet Service GB) executive chairman Geoffrey Bray (pictured).

It’s a view shared by the Chartered Institute of Personal and Development (CIPD), which says in a paper published earlier this year: “Employee communication is an essential part of business.

“Effective internal communication is important for developing trust within an organisation and is shown to have significant impact on employee engagement, organisational culture and, ultimately, productivity.”

Yet CIPD research suggests that many employees feel they receive limited or very little information.

Managing the vehicle, driver and journey is the raison d’etre of Fleet Service GB through its suite of industry-leading Achieve-branded solutions: Maintenance Management, Crash Management, Driver Management, Management Services, Fleet Manager and Fleet Service Partnership.

Achieve Driver Management is at the core of the technology-based menu of programmes as it pro-actively measures individual driver performance awarding points based on a raft of measures including motoring offences and number and type of crashes.

Simultaneously, drivers can improve their record through a range of best practice parameters including completing online ‘how to’ e-learning programmes

The Achieve Driver Management dashboard identifies which employees have authority to drive, driver-influenced vehicle costs – including maintenance bills and tyre usage – and a company’s best and worst drivers using a number of key intelligent parameters including: points.

Meanwhile, the closely-related driver app embraces a wide range of features including notifications, prompts, reminders and alerts; the ability to arrange bookings for servicing, maintenance and repairs, including tyres; a facility to report an incident or breakdown; a facility to upload images, capturing incident and/or vehicle condition; and the ability to update vehicle mileage in real-time.

The driver app provides employees with the facility to communicate with Fleet Service GB by phone, email and text.

Mr Bray said: “Driver influenced costs are the single biggest drain on fleet budgets. Effective communication underpinned by technology has a critical role to play in reducing those costs with drivers a key part of the solution.

“Additionally, disciplined driver performance is crucial to managing work-related road risk and ensuring compliance. The uniqueness of Achieve is that it continuously records and measures both individual driver compliance and performance via a points process to compile a real-time driver history taking into account all key data to produce a ‘drive safe, stay safe’ employee mentality.”

He continued: “Driver engagement, in my experience, is one of the biggest issues faced by companies. Too often there is an assumption that all an organisation has to do is issue a company car or van handbook and drivers’ will read it and know exactly what they should be doing.

“That is simply not the case. Over a 50-year career in fleet I’ve seen, and continue to see, how vehicle-related problems have occurred simply because fleet decision-makers have failed to communicate properly with drivers. That then has a direct impact on business efficiency and fleet costs.

“In today’s hi-tech age there is no excuse not to have an interactive driver communications strategy that will enhance the efficiency of the fleet. I’m aware, for example of one major fleet that records its own one minute videos on key fleet issues and sends them to all drivers.

“Additionally, drivers are a fleet manager’s eyes and ears on the road. In terms of the choice of vehicles and their features, the way a vehicle performs in-life and interaction with frontline suppliers such as fleet management companies and garages, drivers’ views should be actively obtained and taken into consideration when reviewing and potential changing policies.

“Too often fleet decision-makers sit in their own bubble and fail to embrace drivers’ views. Fleet decision-makers that fail to involve drivers in the decision-making process cannot possibly know what the day-to-day operational impact of any decisions may be.

“In a large organisation it may not be possible to engage individually with every single driver. However, drivers’ representative groups can be formed and all employees should feel that they can at least communicate by telephone or email with the fleet manager and their views will at the very least be listened to.

“For example, the driver handbook may recommend that vehicle tyres are checked monthly. But having conveyed that policy, how does a fleet manager know that checks are being undertaken as required? There may be a requirement, for example, to circulate video reminders or introduce a third party to undertake checks. Simply to communicate a policy once via handbook and expect it to be religiously carried out is a far too simplistic approach.”

The CIPD says: “Effective communication is a vital part of developing transparency in organisations. Clear and consistent internal messaging is also needed as the nature of organisations and their workforces continues to change, driven by factors including technology.

“Good employee communication will help people to understand their organisation’s purpose and strategy, identify with the organisation’s values, and develop a sense of belonging by understanding how their role contributes to the wider purpose. Workers are more likely to contribute more and feel committed if there’s a culture of open communication.”

Importantly, adds the CIPD: “Rather than being a ‘top down’ exercise, there needs to be two-way and multi-directional dialogue, so that people have meaningful opportunities to feed their views upwards and discuss them with colleagues. This is central to developing more effective and agile organisations, through innovation and responding to operational issues.”

The CIPD’s ‘Employee Communication’ factsheet can be viewed at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/communication/factsheet#15763

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