Taking on Telematics: How to Successfully Introduce New Technology to Hesitant Employees
One of the most significant challenges utility contractors face when implementing telematics is introducing the technology to employees. Although management may be convinced that telematics will benefit the business, employees are not always on the same page at the beginning. Some of the common concerns employees have about telematics are that it’s “Big Brother,” management doesn’t trust them or it’s a tool that will be used for punishment. All in all, telematics can be concerning to employees because they may not understand how and why the business plans to use it.
It is essential to introduce telematics in the right way to promote driver adoption from the start. To build a positive perception of the technology, utility contractors should present telematics to employees before implementing it and confront employees’ concerns from the start. Telematics provides many benefits to both the business and employees, so illustrating why the business needs it and revealing how everyone will benefit is another way to help gain acceptance. Lastly, creating company guidelines is essential for employees to understand what is expected from them. Utility contractors should create clear driver policies around the technology before it’s put into use.
Present Telematics to Employees
Some fleet managers are concerned about employees reacting negatively to using telematics to track their vehicles. Because of this concern, they implement a system without introducing the technology to drivers first. It is strongly advised for any business that plans to use telematics to discuss it with their drivers before implementation.
Gathering raw data before the full rollout is recommended to measure progress. However, once the decision has been made to use a system employees should be made aware. This is crucial because, at some point, the data will be used to hold employees accountable. If they don’t realize that their driving is being measured, they will not be as open to feedback when the time comes to review their progress. Not only will employees be less willing to accept constructive feedback, monitoring their vehicles without their knowledge will almost guarantee backlash and create a negative perception of the technology. It is important for managers to be upfront and honest about their plans to use the technology from the beginning.
Address Employee Concerns
Although the use of telematics has become more common practice over the past few years, there are still some who have negative ideas about why it’s used. The most common concern is that telematics is “Big Brother,” or an invasion of privacy. There are many drivers who have worked in the industry for a long time without the use of telematics. The introduction of new technology can be confusing when it’s not explained in the right way. Industry vets may not fully understand why the business needs it or think that it’s being implemented because management doesn’t trust them.
It’s important for fleet managers to listen to the objections employees have about telematics and debunk the myths to alleviate concerns. Fleet managers should explain that using telematics is not about a lack of trust; it is about incorporating tools that will create better results for the business. Football coaches watch tapes with their players after games to review each play and sales managers record calls to coach sales representative how to close a sale in the future. Telematics is a tool for fleet managers to accomplish the same task. When there is technology available to help solve difficult business challenges, perform jobs more efficiently and increase revenue, why would it not be used?
Explaining to employees that the business will not use telematics to be overly intrusive, but rather to improve productivity and help the business become more profitable will increase positive perception of the technology.
Explain Why the Business Needs Telematics
An effective way for utility contractors to increase employee acceptance of telematics is to explain why the business is incorporating the use of the technology. If speeding citations are higher than industry standards or fuel costs are at an all-time high, fleet managers should share that information with employees. Presenting how telematics can help solve these challenges is important and will help employees understand why the business needs it.
One of the most important reasons utility contractors implement telematics is to increase safety. Telematics systems help fleets reduce speeding, harsh braking, rapid acceleration/deceleration and to stay on top of fleet maintenance. Along with benefits like qualifying for lower Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) premiums, this also presents more serious implications — like saving lives. Preventing reckless driving will create a safer work environment for drivers. Working for a business with the highest safety standards is highly important to most employees, but especially to drivers.
Another reason many utility contractors use telematics is to reduce costs. Telematics systems allow fleets to reduce fuel costs, labor costs, maintenance expenses, rightsize their fleet and more. If overhead costs are higher than they should be due to unnecessary expenses, the business will have fewer resources available to put back into the business. When employees realize that there is a need to monitor these metrics to reduce high costs and make the business more profitable, they will be far less resistant.
Discuss How Employees Will Benefit
One of the best topics to bring up when introducing telematics is how it will benefit employees directly. Telematics benefits utility contracting in many ways, like increasing revenue and making operations more efficient. When the business becomes more profitable, it will increase employees’ earning potential. Having more funds available will allow the business to increase salaries, award bonuses and create incentives for employees.
Gamification is a great way to improve fleet metrics and motivate employees at the same time. A Driver Scorecard Report will rank vehicles based on speeding, rapid acceleration/deceleration and idle time. By sharing this report’s graphical results with employees, they will have a clear understanding of what areas they need to improve to receive their incentive.
Write Driver Policies That Include Telematics
It is a best practice for utility contractors to set ground rules of when and where telematics will be used. To restate a crucial idea when promoting employee adoption of telematics, it should not be a surprise to drivers when they are held accountable for their behavior with telematics data. Writing driver policies that include telematics will set expectations for drivers and allow management to restructure coaching sessions to reflect the change as well.
When writing driver policies around telematics data, some important topics to cover include how telematics data will be used and what will be enforced, if and how telematics data will be used during employee assessment, penalties for tampering with devices, if vehicles will be monitored 24/7/365 or just during working hours, etc.
Introducing telematics to employees is a common concern for many businesses during implementation. Presenting the technology in the right way is crucial to gain employee acceptance from the start. Utility contractors will increase positive perception of telematics by explaining how and why the technology will be used, having open conversations with employees and presenting the benefits obtainable. With the use of telematics, utility contractors receive true fleet intelligence and gain the ability to take full control over their fleet.
Jenny Malcolm is the content marketing specialist for GPS Insight.