For in-depth insight and information on all aspects of driver wellbeing, download the People First guide at the end of the article.
One of the top findings from independent research commissioned by Shell across five European markets was that fleet drivers cite being able to keep in touch with family, friends and work while they’re out on the road as one their most main wellbeing priorities.
Communication up and down the communication chain is very important in the workplace. Employees feel more empowered if they are able to speak to their manager and know they are being listened to. This boosts morale and promotes productivity, commitment and enables the company to operate more effectively – a lack of communication can be a real blockage in decision making and problem-solving.
Managing traffic conditions – being able to relay information about localised problems, either to headquarters to family means no more racing to beat the clock. Enhanced in-vehicle connectivity also gives drivers a heads-up about jams, meaning more contingency plans and fewer delays.
Tracking progress – fleet driving is all about getting something – or someone – from A-to- B (and quite often multiple points in-between) for a third party: the customer.
In the case of logistics companies, staying connected means fleet managers always know where their assets are, reducing stress when it comes to updating customers. The knock-on effect is that drivers aren’t pressured to continually stop to reassure the depot and can get on with the task at hand.
Work/life balance – whether it’s staying in touch or just being able to get some of that tedious life admin out of the way, giving drivers access to a range of communication options means they’re able to keep their family and job in balance.
There’s not a lot can be done about physical absence on a long haul journey but being able to email, call or FaceTime regularly maintains drivers’ emotional health.
Far more than the cryptic ‘black box’, telematics systems today operate both visibly and invisibly. Often a series of connected solutions, some work quite literally under the hood monitoring driving style and vehicle health.
Increasingly, however, these systems are built into driver display units, alongside sat navs and entertainment systems. These can be particularly useful for logistic companies as drivers are able to connect to depots, receive and read out messages as well as link to consignment technologies (especially in the case of food service and refrigeration) to monitor inventory on board.
Building in relevant connected functionality into your telematics suite is a sure-fire way to reduce driver stress. The less they have to stop and text, email or call clients or their hub, the more time drivers have to get on with the job without chasing impossible deadlines.
For those concerned about the ‘Big Brother’ nature of onboard monitoring and connectivity, it’s important to emphasise that these systems are there to help, not spy.
At Shell’s service stations, the need for on-the-go connectivity is recognised with the provision of free Wi-Fi. Drivers can park up to refuel or for a designated rest break, have a coffee or snack and browse the net, send emails or even make video calls to in comfort.
While rest stops are vital points for a spot of exercise or a recharging nap, it’s equally important that drivers have an opportunity to simply unwind with an enlivening phone conversation or entertaining YouTube video.
Encouraging some online downtime during your drivers’ stops at service stations also reinforces safe behaviour. Hands-free calling is easily enabled today with Bluetooth or in-built systems but conversations should be made with the ignition off and the vehicle parked.
Keeping drivers safe while fully connected is a win-win all round.