Do you have programs in place to support your team? Is your team aware of them? Coming off a pandemic, still dealing with supply chain issues, shortages of staff, increased workload, less time with family and the overall state of the geopolitical world, impacts everyone differently.
In America, top sources of stress were the rise in prices of everyday items due to inflation (cited by 87%), followed by supply chain issues (81%), global uncertainty (81%), Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (80%) and potential retaliation from Russia (e.g., in the form of cyberattacks or nuclear threats) (80%).
It’s important for fleet management because stress impacts safety, business operations, productivity and the well being of employees, your most valuable resource. 40% of workers in the transportation industry in Canada have reported higher levels of burnout, higher than the national average of 35% according to a report from Canada Life. According to the study, few employees feel that they are receiving enough support from their employers.
Drivers with mental health issues are in effect distracted drivers because it takes one’s attention off the road or interferes with the ability to drive safely.
With the shortage of drivers, increased workloads and aggressive recruiting from companies, you want to set your fleet management team up for success with some polices and procedures that support their mental health, improve safety and enhance retention.
5 tips for business owners and fleet managers to improve fleet’s mental health:
1. Recognize warning signs of mental health and burnout.
Become familiar with the key warning signs that include aggression, negativity, fatigue, difficulty eating or sleeping, losing interest in daily activities, increased headaches or stomach aches, feeling hopeless, reduced work performance, irritability and mood swings. Review absence history to identify increased trends in sick days.
2. Check in with your drivers with regular 1:1s.
1:1s are open ended conversations that allow for feedback, coaching. Regular check ins help with open communication and build trust which leads to motivating the workforce to be on the same path of goals. If an employee comes to their manager with their stress problems, a manager’s job is to make it safe for them and that it won’t be held against them. When necessary, know what next steps need to occur and support them by checking in on their progress.
3. Remove the stigma of mental health.
In a role that has long been considered a tough and resistant to stress, your fleet may be ashamed to admit they are suffering poor mental health. Remind your fleet that they are not alone. While drivers can feel isolated on the road, they are part of a broader community in your fleet where others may be experiencing the same things.
4. Encourage the use of benefit plans to seek professional help
If your company has benefit plan, most plans provide an allocation towards professionals that support mental health. Encourage your fleet to use those services. If your company does not have a benefits provider, look into local resources that can support.
5. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)
Help prevent drivers from over working. The system tracks hours of service and required rest time. The mandate is effective in the USA and is scheduled for January 2023 in Canada. Don’t wait until last minute to implement ELDs as the biggest challenges is getting used to operational change and the stress it has on drivers. Now is a great time to show your fleet the support of their stress reduction with the implementation of these compliance pieces. The more time that goes into planning, the less stressful the change will be.
Mental health support system at work should be like First Aid training. Refreshers need to occur with the fleet management team to effectively support the fleet. Implementing a few of these polices and procedures will help your fleet management operations retain staff, improve productivity and enhance safety.