Transport and Logistics Exclusive: Engaging your Remote Workforce Through Effective Onboarding
As many as 70% of staff in the transport and logistics sector work in non-desk jobs. Most are remote workers – meaning they don’t work in the company office or aren’t in the same physical location or vicinity as management and their peers.
It is easy to romanticise some of these professions. Truck drivers living solitary but adventurous lives on the great open road. Pilots in crisp designer uniforms travelling to exotic locations. Sales reps schmoozing clients in fancy restaurants over long lunches. You might even daydream about the day when your own boss agrees to let you work from home so that you can wake up in the morning and go to work in your pajamas.
But behind these glamorous images of remote workers lies a reality that sometimes isn’t always all that it is cracked up to be.
Fatigue is a significant safety risk for workers in transport and logistics. Working long hours behind the wheel or flying across time zones can have a huge toll on the body. An estimated 20-30% of vehicle collisions on Australian roads occur due to fatigue. 
Meanwhile, nearly one in three injuries to Australian workers are caused by incidents during manual handling. For staff in the logistics sector the risks are further heightened by workers spending large parts of their day loading and unloading trucks and containers on their own.
84% of non-desk employees believe they don’t receive enough on-the-job communication. This can result in workers feeling disconnected from their fellow employees, their company, and the company’s goals.
Importance of trust
Remote workforces also often suffer from morale and performance issues that can be traced back to a lack of trust in the employment relationship. Yet trust is essential to working remotely. Remote employees need to feel that they can trust their manager to look after their best interests. Team members must be able to rely on each other to get things done. And managers must to be able to trust that work will get done without micromanaging.
People in high trust environments report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.  So how do you create a high trust environment that results in an engaged and productive remote workforce?
A good onboarding process builds trust
Onboarding starts from the initial contact with an employee and unfolds over the first 6 – 12 months of service. Staff learn a lot about the integrity and culture of your organisation through how you communicate and interact with them and how well you prepare them for the road ahead. 90% of employees will make the decision as to whether to stay with an organisation by the end of the first year so the onboarding experience is critical.
With that in mind, here are 9 ways to engage your transport and logistics remote workforce and win their trust right from the start through effective onboarding.
1.Express your employment paperwork
Confirm your commitment to your new employee with clear and accurate employment contracts and forms. Good onboarding software will enable you to deliver paperwork direct to your new employee’s inbox and process it electronically all before the even employee starts with you. No errors. No delays.
2. Schedule regular visits
Commit to bringing your remote employees into head office soon after they commence and then as regularly as practical. Make each trip worthwhile in terms of meetings, training or team building so they feel valued and important.
3. Despatch regular communication
Remote workers require more communication than their office-bound colleagues. Yes, you read that correctly. More communication. Increased communication helps prevent isolation and disengagement from the team.
4. Deliver important information
The last thing you want during those early months with the company is to let the grapevine do the talking for you. Transparency is important to trust. Sharing as much information as you can directly with your remote workers will avoid confusion and miscommunication.
5. Jump start social and team bonds
Technology can really help remote workers feel part of a bigger team. Onboarding systems link team members and peers through social enterprise networks where they can learn more about each other and stay in touch. A bit like the office water cooler, it brings staff together to talk over issues on an informal basis.
Introducing a buddy system can also give remote employees another person to turn to for information and guidance and feel less alone.
6. Get on-track with safety and compliance
Educating your remote staff about workplace policies and procedures is an important part of onboarding. With clear and transparent guidelines, staff can go about their work more confidently, safely and productively without direct supervision.
7. Steer performance management
Unfortunately many remote workers feel like they only ever hear from their manager when something is wrong. Automating performance management workflows will ensure that probation reviews are completed and staff are transitioned onto regular performance feedback processes that clarify expectations and foster a better balance between praise and criticism.
8. Embark upon training and development
Make sure your remote staff have equal access to learning. Look for local training providers or consider other development options like: online learning; peer collaboration; coaching; peer modelling; and mentoring.
9. Review the journey so far
In addition to having regular check-ins with the new team member to discuss how they are progressing, many employers also survey participants at critical junctures eg: the 30 or 60 day mark. Collecting reliable feedback like this will give you an accurate picture of what is working well and reveal any pain points your remote employee might be experiencing.
Take it to the next level
Start simple, a great process is as easy as a great checklist. Let us show you how! Download our complimentary exclusive transport and logistics onboarding checklist now.