There’s more to being a good employer than providing a monthly wage packet. By also offering wellbeing support, you’ll improve driver retention and have a more successful business.
It’s easy to think if you’re paying your drivers a fair wage for a job they’ll be content with their lot. But there’s more to a happy workforce than that; wellbeing is being increasingly recognised as one of the main factors driving employee satisfaction and company performance. According to workplace consultancy Great Place to Work UK in its 2016 study on ‘Wellbeing and the importance of workplace culture’ , “organisations with effective wellbeing programmes outperform the market.”
Wellbeing is hard to neatly define. Great Place to Work UK describes it as “a complex blend of the physical, psychological, social and relationship aspects of employees’ working lives. It includes factors such as their working environment and how they get on with their manager and colleagues.”
On a purely human level, every employer has a duty of care for their employees’ welfare, but employees’ wellbeing also makes commercial sense. An employee who feels cared for is more engaged with their work and this in turn improves performance, as illustrated by the graph below.
The flipside to this, according to Great Place to Work UK, is, “If the work/life balance isn’t right, or employees don’t feel respected, valued or treated fairly, they’re more likely to become demotivated, disaffected and eventually leave the organisation.” Given the driver shortage within the transportation industry, it’s more important than ever you retain the workforce you have. Besides which, you’ve already spent time and money bringing them into your company and equipping them with the right skills, so by providing a workplace where employees want to stay in the longterm helps to keep these costs down.
In a recent haulage drivers’ survey, carried out by Shell’s UK health manager Dr Marianne Dyer, respondents listed their top three most important wellbeing needs as: quality of sleep/rest and privacy; a safe, healthy environment; and keeping in touch with friends and family. Also ranking high in importance are: access to healthy food and convenient services on the road; and pro-active and supportive management.
In terms of whether drivers feel these needs are being met, the response was mixed. While 76% stated they mostly or fully agree they’re able to keep in touch with friends and family – their third most important concern – only 47% agreed they have access to enough healthy food – their fourth most important concern.
As for their top concern, 61% agreed they have the opportunity to take sufficient breaks, yet 18% disagreed with this.
When it comes to another high priority for drivers, a pro-active and supportive management, 59% agreed they feel treated fairly at work, 58% agreed they feel safe and cared about at work, 55% agreed they get sufficient training to perform well, and 54% agreed their work is valued and they receive regular feedback on their performance.
There’s clearly work to be done, so what can you do to improve your drivers’ wellbeing? The first step is to understand which wellbeing needs your drivers value the most. Take a look at ‘The wheel of wellbeing’ in this feature. This is a good visual aid to use as a starting point to encourage your employees to say how highly they rate certain factors that impact on their sense of wellness at work.
Once you’ve identified your drivers’ needs, think about what you could be doing to take better care of them. The good news is, to be effective, looking after your employees’ wellbeing doesn’t necessarily mean spending money and could be as simple as paying closer attention to work schedules and providing flexible working to ensure your drivers have a better work/life balance.
Another no-cost yet important way to improve wellbeing is to make sure you know and respect your drivers, recognise them as individuals, and show you trust and appreciate them.
Beyond that you could consider implementing a more specific wellness programme. Some examples Shell has put in place for drivers include providing information about affordable, high quality, healthy food, introducing a shift work-acclimatisation programme, partnering with providers for access to free Wi-Fi spots, setting up an emergency SOS service to get drivers home quickly in case of family emergency, and offering access to health facilities.
It’s best to introduce just a few objectives at a time. The exercises in this feature are a good place to get started.
- Health topic on the agenda of every meeting
- Fitness challenge for charity
- Success stories sharing
Ultimately, whatever approach you take for your company, it’s clear that looking after your drivers’ emotional, mental and physical needs helps to foster a safe and happy workplace, which is key to moving your business forward.