Automating a business process usually means fewer people are required to do that job. At SiriComm, however, the company is preparing to automate the driver recruiting process to put more people on the recruiting job. If it is successful, this turnabout of technology deployment norms may change driver hiring and management practices forever and for the better.
Company president and CEO Hank Hoffman explains: “It was a fleet customer who first gave us the idea for an electronic employment application that can be administered by the fleet's drivers while they are on the road,” he says. “They told us that their own truck operators are their best recruiters because their drivers know the company and they typically look for other people who will also be a good fit.
“Out on the road, however, there was no easy way for these drivers to handle the job application paperwork and capture the signature authorization necessary to initiate driver background checks in a timely fashion. With our new ‘e Job,’ a driver can use his or her handheld computer (PDA) or laptop to enable a new driver candidate to complete and sign an employment application right on the spot. Then the fleet driver can e-mail the application to the home office and the recruiting department can instantly run the required on-line background checks,” Hoffman says. “Before the drivers' lunch break is over, the job candidate can have an e-mail reply with a provisional job offer in hand.
“We believe that it just doesn't make sense for people to stand at a truck stop kiosk and flip through job application forms,” he adds. “It is time-consuming and not at all personal. Nobody interacts with the job candidate, nobody makes an initial assessment of suitability for the job; nobody answers their questions. This new approach keeps it personal and speeds up the process besides.”
For Hoffman, pushing the recruiting process out to a company's existing drivers is just one part of a larger vision for expanding and enhancing the role of the driver in today's trucking industry. “We truly believe that truck operators will become knowledge workers in the future,” he says. “Some drivers in a fleet, for example, will become great recruiters and really enjoy doing it. Others won't care and won't bother.
“Two good things will happen, however,” Hoffman continues. “Fleets will be able to cast a wider net for new drivers and they will also create a new opportunity for some drivers to grow within their job, to earn credits toward bonuses and promotions.
“There are a host of potential benefits for fleets that find ways to develop legitimate career paths for their drivers,” he adds. “The best fleets know this already, of course. Imagine working at a job where there is no way to grow; where ten years from now, your job will be virtually the same as today; where your pay will have kept pace with inflation but not grown enough to change your lifestyle and where your skill level will have remained the same along with your status in the industry. No wonder there is so much ‘churn’ within the driver population. We believe that giving drivers a way to increase their value to the company can dramatically reduce driver turnover, improve productivity, enhance safety and security and reduce costs.”
SiriComm's e Job is part of the company's new Beacon Suite of applications that will be available in 2005. It also includes electronic freight billing, a driver pay settlements system, truck maintenance management and other applications. For more information about e Job and the SiriComm broadband wireless network go to www.siricomm.com.