date23 September 2021

How to boost the mental health of your drivers

After what can only be described as an extremely trying 18 months, it is entirely understandable that the events and aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic are felt across all industries and employees across the world. An exceptionally challenging time for the logistics industry, this sector is no stranger to the impact of COVID-19 and the unique pressures placed on the supply chain as a result.

As the vaccination roll-out continues and we witness easing of travel restrictions, how can fleet managers continue to safeguard their workforces and boost the mental health of fleet drivers?

COVID-19 and mental health

It has been widely reported that the pandemic has caused, and continues to cause, a rise in drivers’ mental health issues. This is the result of numerous compounded factors. From forced operational changes and fears of the virus itself, to shared occupancy risks has led to drivers feeling isolated.

Furthermore, many logistics firms find themselves under increasing financial pressures, due to additional fleet vehicles needing to be hired to enable drivers to operate safely in isolation. Not only this, but since the outbreak of the pandemic, fleet drivers faced additional challenges, all of which could have had a lasting impact on their long-term mental health, including:

  • Additional work demands and stricter time constraints
  • Increased working hours and intense concentration
  • Increased isolation
  • Reduced contact due to social distancing
  • Heavier traffic conditions

With figures revealing ill mental health is costing employers between £33 billion and £42 billion each year, it is essential that the mental health of all workforces is placed as a top priority, and addressed to safeguard health and businesses, both post pandemic and beyond.

How to boost drivers’ mental health

There are several ways that fleet managers can help to boost the mental health of their drivers, including:

(a) An emphasis on safety

With many still feeling justifiably concerned over the virus, an emphasis on health and safety considerations is paramount. Not only does this include regular reviews and replacements of driver’s PPE, but a continual effort to implement vehicle sanitisation pre and post shift. This should be commonplace and part of the daily routine when vehicles are shared across all fleets/logistics companies.

A continued effort to supply drivers with hand sanitiser and to adopt a policy where masks can be worn without judgement should make drivers feel safe, in control and looked after. This should have a positive impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing. It is an industry wide expectation that routine vehicle sanitisation will continue post pandemic.

(b) Regular team meetings and check-ins

The pandemic has resulted in all industries being forced to adapt, think on their feet, and come up with ways to keep in touch with workforces, sometimes located up and down the country. Having regular team check-ins is vital. Not only to help remote staff feel part of the company, but to engage in discussion, feel less isolated and to have contact with colleagues.

Consider hosting informal group discussions that focus on a specific safety issue or topic, ensure regular 1-1 meetings are booked in the diary, or consider a face to face meet up with teams at a suitable and safe location.

(c) Embracing digital technology

Fleet managers can help to boost the mental health of drivers by continuing to embrace digital technology and all its many capabilities. The pandemic has proven the success of virtual meetings using platforms such as Teams, Zoom, Google Hangout and Slack.

Embracing digital technology across your fleet will facilitate more effective, productive, and constructive relationships with your drivers.

(d) Effective systems

Ensuring your fleet drivers are armed with the right systems and tools to give them the best chance of performing their duties successfully is key in helping to support the morale and mental health of your drivers.

This is where systems like TouchStar’s Electronic Proof of Delivery (EPOD) provide a digital solution across all areas of logistical operations, from route optimisation to job scheduling and fleet maintenance. This system enables businesses to help serve customers in a more efficient way and drivers are armed with the right tools to perform their duties to the highest standard.

It will be a long time before COVID-19 and its impact becomes a distant memory. In the meantime, it is the responsibility of all employers to keep watchful eyes on their staff, encourage a transparent and open culture where mental health can be discussed, and support one another as much as possible.

Mental health support

There are several mental health organisations that are accessible if you feel you need to talk to someone and gain support:

MentalHealth at Work: Providing support and free resources for mental health at work is at the heart of this platform.

AnxietyUK: Anxiety UK have a whole host of free anxiety resources that can help you cope with all different levels of stress and anxiety.

Mental Health UK: Mental Health UK provides advice, information, and support for those affected by mental health problems.

NHS: Here you’ll find information about mental health conditions, advice, self-help resources, and more.

Mind: This charity also offers lots of free Mental health at work commitment guides for employers that have been designed to support organisations requiring mental health support.

Find out more today

Support your drivers with help from our EPOD systems, a scalable solution designed for any business, from SMEs through to larger enterprises. Streamline your business operations, improve workflows and make significant efficiency savings all with the help of our dedicated sales and support team.

Find out more about TouchStar’s EPOD systems by getting in touch with us today.