A recent report by the Health and Safety Executive shows that just over 40% of all work-related illnesses in the UK transportation and storage industry are stress, depression or anxiety.

Further to this, our Driver’s Pay Guide – East Midlands and South Yorkshire 2022 survey found over 50% of Drivers are considering leaving the industry. While there are numerous reasons behind this, one is a desire to achieve a better work-life balance in the hopes of safeguarding their mental health.

With the national shortage of HGV 1 Drivers at the forefront of many Hiring Managers’ minds, it is imperative you do what you can to retain your existing staff. A key way is to help your Drivers feel valued and implementing systems and improvements across your business that lessen the likelihood of employees experiencing mental health issues.

In this article, we share results from our latest Drivers Pay Guide concerning their health and wellbeing at work, along with some ideas you can implement to ensure your employees know their physical and mental wellbeing is your top priority.

Our Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey Results

We asked Drivers what factors impact their mental health at work.

The top five results were:

  1. Too many hours at work (51%)
  2. Bad company culture (30%)
  3. Working weekends (24%)
  4. Bad relationships at work (24%)
  5. Working night shifts (23%)

Interestingly, all factors directly relate to work-life balance or work culture. Given these are the most important issues for Drivers across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, what follows are a few ideas to help you enhance these areas of your business.

Work-Life Balance

One of the most interesting findings to come out of our survey is that pay is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to Driver job satisfaction. While it certainly remains up there, work-life balance sits very closely behind with more the one in three Drivers stating their most desired benefit is flexible working hours and increased annual leave.

Further to this, when asked the top reasons they’d consider relocating for work, a better work-life balance took the second spot at 39% (pay was the top at 40%), with bettering one’s family circumstances closely following at 32%.

These results clearly show Drivers crave finding that balance between work, life and family ­ and it is just as important as their pay packet. However, our survey revealed that only 9% of Drivers have flexible working hours, so perhaps the first step in helping your employees improve their mental health is to think about what you could do in this area.

Perhaps it might be better aligning the type of work to individual Driver circumstances. If you are able to, discuss with your drivers whether those with young families might appreciate a parcel or multi-drop delivery role so they can be home in time to share the evening meal? Those who enjoy travel could be better suited to long hauls that allow for significant blocks of time off.

Healthy Lifestyle

It’s well known that mental and physical health go hand in hand, with a lack of sleep and exercise and an unhealthy diet directly contributing to poor moods. With the amount of hours they spend sitting down, engaging in shift work and a lack of healthy food options on the road, it is not surprising to see the high numbers of Drivers experiencing mental health issues.

Reflect on how you can help your staff remain healthy. Encourage them to take their breaks during the workday, but also annual leave for a longer rest and reset. Suggest ways they can keep active on the job, from parking in a spot where they can go for a quick jog or walk to doing stretching exercises on their break or while stuck in traffic (safe ones of course!).

When it comes to food, are you able to stretch your budget to using a catering service to provide Drivers with packed healthy meals? At the least, consider providing snack packs such as nuts and dried fruits and water instead of chocolate bars and energy drinks.

Time At Work

Our survey shows 38% of Drivers work between 41-50 hours per week on average and 16% between 36-40. With so many hours under their belts, it’s no surprise that 51% of Drivers said too many hours worked was the number one factor impacting their mental health on the job, with almost a quarter feeling weekend work was to blame. Close to 20% said they’d consider changing roles because of their job’s shift pattern.

While you may find it difficult to address Driver workload, you can think about ways of making process improvements that reduce the time spent on particular tasks. If you don’t already, use a dedicated Driver job management mobile app that helps Drivers easily see and manage their deliveries, one that updates automatically and removes the frustration and time-wastage of accessing an outdated system.

The latest transport management programs also offer the advantage of automating time-consuming tasks, such as route planning, while giving you the ability to track job status in real time and quickly respond to issues.

Work Culture Issues

One in six Drivers surveyed said their immediate Manager impacts their mental health at work, while the third most desired benefit was for better management (35%). Around 30% of Drivers said a bad company culture affected their mental health on the job and 24% said bad relationships at work.

Our recent survey covers what HGV 1 Drivers desire most from their Manager, along with suggestions for management improvements. In addition, because speaking about mental health still has stigma attached to it (particularly in a male-dominated industry) you can play a part in addressing this by cultivating an open-door environment. This should also make it easier for those struggling with colleagues to come to you for help. Over time, this will naturally enhance your work culture.

One way to begin this process is by speaking to your staff about the struggles you’ve faced in the industry over the past few years and the things you’ve done that have helped. It might start with a casual conversation that builds into a regular occurrence at team catchups.

Mental health training for staff and management about reducing the risk and spotting the signs is also a good move – the Road Transport Industry Training Board has specific mental health modules in their Driver CPC Periodic Training.

If you don’t already, you may like to implement an Employee Assistance Programme where staff and families can access free and confidential support for financial, relationship or mental health problems. In addition, CALM Drivers is a free mental health service targeted specifically at Drivers.

Further Support

There is no denying that Driver mental health needs to be front and centre when it comes to creating a great work culture. In times such as these, when a shortage of talent presents immense Driver recruitment challenges, doing what you can to retain your valued staff is imperative. Caring for your Drivers is also a wonderful way to ensure you’re seen as an employer of choice and this naturally attracts top new talent.

If you’d like to find out more about Driver mental health or aligning your company offerings to Drivers’ desires, you can register to receive the full copy of our Driver’s Pay Guide – East Midlands and South Yorkshire 2022. You can also contact our Driver recruitment specialists to discuss your needs, whether that’s sourcing new Drivers or tips for retaining your current staff.