CommercialFleet

Prioritise mental well-being for drivers, says Venson

Venson Automotive Solutions is urging businesses to prioritise mental well-being for drivers, as reports claim van drivers worked longer hours during lockdown.

A recent study commissioned by Mercedes-Benz Vans found that a driver’s average working week increased by almost five hours during lockdown, as many played a key role in keeping the country moving during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As lockdown eases, Venson is asking businesses to ensure the extra-hours undertaken during lockdown and the new processes being put in place to address relaxed social distancing, doesn’t take a toll on drivers’ mental and physical well-being.

Venson argues that, while most businesses know what to do to keep their vehicles safely on the road, they can sometimes miss the signs of an employee being under stress.

Alison Bell, marketing director at Venson Automotive Solutions, explained: “The events of the last four months have been enough to heighten stress and anxiety levels for the calmest of people.

“With state of mind a critical element to driving safely, drivers who suffer from work-related stress are more likely to speed and take other risks while driving, which can lead to serious accidents.

“Keeping the conversation open and having processes in place that allow staff to feel empowered to express any concerns that could undermine their fitness to drive, is an essential part of any health and safety policy.”

In the June edition of Fleet News, public and private sector companies told us how they are keeping drivers safe, in our latest survey.

Bell says that as well as providing information on how to avoid stress when driving, allowing time for additional hygiene measures and regular breaks throughout the day, business could incorporate tips from the Mental Health Foundation on how to embed good mental processes.

Bell said: “Now, more than ever, employees who drive on business should have easy access to advice and information on how to relieve stress, achieve a good night’s sleep, eat healthily and stay hydrated.

“It’s important not just for their safety but for the increasing number of drivers, as more businesses move out of lockdown and more vehicles return to the road.”

Venson’s free whitepaper, ‘It’s good to talk: Caring about Mental Health’, promotes good mental health at work practices and offers practical help and advice.

Venon’s top tips for creating a culture that supports mental health and well-being:

  • Create a pro-active, rather than reactive company culture where anyone experiencing problems can ask for help and know that they will be supported
  • Set up regular employee surveys to build data about staff mental health and use the findings to plan and deliver workplace policies
  • Make senior managers responsible for leading mental health activities, such as mental health awareness sessions, with all managers engaged in the activity
  • Offer training to line managers on how they can support staff with stress and mental health problems
  • Driving schedules should be planned so that staff are not required to drive too far or too fast and should include adequate rest breaks
  • Stress can be caused when employees do not feel competent to fulfil their duties. Offer regular driver assessment and training so that such concerns can identified and addressed
  • Make adjustments, where possible, to an employee’s work pattern to remove barriers and allow them to stay in work
  • Encourage staff to report discrimination or harassment they face and to blow the whistle on discrimination they witness

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