Workplace Wellness: A Holistic Approach to Your Employees’ Wellbeing


Companies have long been responsible for the on-the-job health and safety of their employees. This responsibility however is now changing for employers as a greater realm of care for the overall wellness (physical and mental) of employees – both on and off the clock - is being considered.

The shift is the result of changing employee expectations, updates in legislation and the understanding by employers that a healthy workforce brings with it some real and quantifiable advantages.

Within the trucking and logistics industry, there is much to consider when it comes to the overall health and wellbeing of your workforce. In some circumstances, the risk factors, and therefore the solutions, are the same. In other cases, it is important to understand that the contributing factors that can deplete an employee’s wellbeing are different and therefore, targeted actions to address those key areas of concern may be required.

We see leading fleet employers taking proactive measures to understand how their workplace plays a contributing role in employee wellbeing and implementing programs to improve employee health.

The following guide can help fleet employers fully realize the potential of their staff by providing ways in which trucking and logistics companies can promote employee wellness and reap the benefits of a fully engaged, healthy workforce.

Benefits of Wellness Programs

Corporate wellness programs are designed to include a holistic and comprehensive approach to employee wellbeing, through tactics such as: training and education, the introduction of self-care practices, risk identification and mitigation, disease prevention, and increased access to health care practitioners.

Properly designed wellness programs can have a great impact on your company, including direct financial benefits. Some examples of the advantages of introducing a wellness program include:

Reduced absenteeism – Primarily by taking a pro-active approach to employee whole-health, and addressing the reasons for missed work, absenteeism is reduced. In a study to establish Canadian benchmarks on the return on investment (ROI) for workplace wellness conducted by Sun Life Financial and Ivey Business School, it was demonstrated that wellness programs can reduce absenteeism by 1.5-1.7 days per employee, per year.

Decreased benefits costs – The improvement in employee health and wellness has a direct impact on employer benefits costs – both through the reduction in utilization rates impacting premiums and in the reduction of disability claims.

Lower Presenteeism – Employees who are well, both physically and mentally perform better. The concept of “Presenteeism” refers to reduced productivity by employees who are present, at-work, but otherwise distracted or hindered in some way due to a health problem. This can include stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, or physical ailments. Wellness programs address the factors that cause presenteeism, therefore increasing employee productivity.

Greater job satisfaction – Job satisfaction can be directly linked to on-the-job performance improvements.  Supporting employees in their job satisfaction can therefor impact customer satisfaction, employee engagement and innovation.

Reduced Turnover – An employer’s commitment to the health of their workforce goes a long way in creating trust and respect from employees. Moreover, the added perks and benefits that a wellness program brings could be enough to make employees second-guess leaving your company for the competition.

Employee Wellness – Key Impacts

Employees continue to face pressures and strains—both at work, and at home—that impact their overall wellbeing. Recently, increases in the use of technology, the heightened pace of work in general, along with the pandemic, have all played contributing roles. Truly understanding the factors that are at play can help organizations better recognize and understand what employees are dealing with and how to address the areas that will lead to the greatest gain.

Contributing Factors in the Workplace

When one thinks of an employee wellness program, our minds typically race to health benefits, days off policies, and employee assistance programs. Consider however that employee wellness is impacted by many factors, including how we work, who we interact with, and what stresses we face.

With this in mind, employers may want to think more broadly about what contributes to workplace wellness.

Below is a list of broader workplace factors that have the ability to both positively or negatively impact an employee’s wellbeing, depending on how they are addressed.

  • Control over one’s work
  • Autonomy
  • Leadership competence
  • Opportunities to collaborate
  • Physical work demands
  • Psychological work demands
  • Workplace design
  • Amount of support
  • Ability to innovate
  • Recognition of good work
  • Feeling included
  • Hours of work and overtime
  • Ability to take time off
  • Access to information
  • Sense of purpose
  • Realistic or unrealistic job demands
  • Social support networks

Taking the time to review and assess which of these factors are present within your work environment will be helpful before you begin any work on a wellness program.

Other Stressors

Outside factors that employees experience within their personal lives also play a role in their wellbeing and as such, these factors impact how employees show up at work. Employers who recognize that employees are whole humans will be better equipped to introduce programs and initiatives that may not be directly related to the workplace, but that will most certainly improve employee contributions while they are there.

Examples of stressors that employees may be facing outside of work, that impact them at work, include:

  • Care requirements for children, aging parents or ailing family members
  • Financial strain
  • Obesity
  • Addiction issues
  • Mental health concerns
  • Chronic illness
  • Isolation
  • Bereavement
  • Lack of support
  • Sleep deprivation

Contributing Factors to Driver Wellness

Drivers’ unique working conditions—being on the road—has the potential to negatively impact both the physical and mental health of this important employee group. These unique factors also increase the responsibilities of an employer to consider aspects of life that might otherwise be thought of as “personal”.

There is an increased need for industry employers to address the health challenges that may result from choosing this  occupation. A good first step is to understand what types of health challenges may be encountered.

Physical Health Factors

There are many factors that negatively contribute to a driver’s physical health in the course of their daily job duties. For example, sitting for long periods, lack of access to healthy food options, and limited opportunity for exercise. These stressors are even more prevalent for long-haul drivers. Some of the physical factors to be aware of are:


Life on the road does not lend itself to nutritional, healthy eating. Whether making their food choices based on limiting stops, duration of stops, ease of eating while driving, or taste, making the most nutritional decision can be very difficult for truck drivers.

Healthy options are limited on the road in general and they are virtually non-existent at the places where drivers already stop for fuel. The options also typically take longer to eat and can be much messier and more dangerous to try to consume while driving. As a result, many drivers experience unhealthy eating habits and diets that are high in sodium and devoid of fruits and vegetables. A US based survey, conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety, indicated that long-haul drivers, when compared to the average adult worker, are twice as likely to be obese. This puts the very workers who form a cornerstone of our industry at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, cancer, joint and back pain, and stroke. We can assume that the same applies for many of our Canadian drivers.


Being in any position for a prolonged time can have detrimental effects on the body. Long-haul truck drivers spend several hours in the same seat with very little opportunity to switch positions or stretch. Consequently, drivers may complain of general discomfort, muscle cramps and suffer from lower back pain. The impact of driving a truck on the body can extend outside of cab as well, resulting in long-term effects from poor ergonomics such as: imperfect posture, stress, tension, and lingering numbness in the extremities.

For more information on ergonomic impacts for drivers, see the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s Fact sheet on Driving and Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Lack of Exercise

Exercise is an important ingredient in overall wellness. According to the World Health Organization, an active lifestyle has been linked to the prevention of noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers) and contributes to improved mental health. Other sources, such as the Government of Canada, site lower incidences of type 2 diabetes and a more robust immune system as benefits to an active lifestyle.

Exercise is a valuable countermeasure against many of the negative effects truck drivers face due to the nature of their work. Unfortunately, the rigours of long-haul trucking, coupled with the pressures of delivering on-time, can combine to keep exercise way down on a driver’s list of priorities.


Sleep is an important contributor to an individual’s overall well-being. In addition to allowing the body to recover and rest, getting enough sleep has been linked by Johns Hopkins University to improved cardiovascular health. Moreover, sleep deprivation has a number of negative impacts including, but not limited to, a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, as well as decreased alertness and concentration. For long-haul truck drivers, finishing the trip is often prioritized over getting sufficient sleep. Helping your team understand the importance of sleep will have benefits for the drivers themselves as well as the company at large. Tired drivers have slower reaction times, become more easily distracted, and are at greater risk for being at fault for accidents. When it comes to sleep, employee wellness is company wellness.

Proactive Health Care

Being on-the-road can mean skipped doctor’s visits or other proactive medical appointments that can help prevent long-term or chronic illnesses – such as massage therapy or chiropractic appointments. These skipped visits may result in otherwise preventable illness, ailment, or disease.

Mental Health Factors

Research suggests that drivers are at risk of several occupational-health-induced conditions. These include, but are not limited to, loneliness (27.9%), depression (26.9%), chronic sleep disturbances (20.6 %) and anxiety (14.5%) (Shattell M., Apostolopoulos Y., et al, 2012).

More detail on some of the contributing factors to driver’s mental health are outlined below.


Life on the road even with access to technology can be lonely. In addition to the inherent isolation faced by long-haul truck drivers, the return home does not guarantee an end to the loneliness. The pseudo-nomadic lifestyle of a long-haul driver can negatively impact their sense of community belonging, being away frequently from friends and family, which can result in poor health outcomes.

For instance, in Sense of Community and Belonging and Health in Canada: A Regional Analysis the authors conclude, “that there was a strong and consistent association between health and sense of belonging, even when controlling for geography and socio-economic status. In particular, mental health and life stress were strong determinants.”


Commercial truck drivers work in a high-stress environment. Their job requires them to meet tight schedules for deliveries. With so much time alone on the road, the stress of a tight timeline can become internalized by drivers. Moreover, it’s not just company-imposed stresses that can occupy a driver’s mind. Financial difficulties, health concerns, and domestic issues can all be exacerbated by a life on the road. With very little opportunity to find a safe outlet for these stresses, they can take a serious toll on a driver’s mental health.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Whether a contributing factor to poor mental health, or a by-product of it, substance abuse has a significant negative impact on employee wellness. In one worldwide study reported by Reuters Health researchers found, “widely varying estimates – based both on drivers’ own reports and on drug testing – but overall use of mind-altering substances was high and linked to poor working conditions.” Drivers looking for an escape from the stresses of their lives may turn to opiates or marijuana, while others seeking a chemical boost may abuse amphetamines. Though uncomfortable, it is important for logistics companies to recognize the presence of addiction and substance abuse on the road.

Understanding Your Legal Obligations

Typically, employee wellness programs go beyond the minimum legal requirements for workplace health and safety, however, it is important to consider these legislative requirements when reviewing current practices or implementing anything new.

Some of the legislative requirements that you should be aware of when implementing a workplace wellness program are:

Canada Occupational Health & Safety Regulations – Employee wellbeing at work is closely tied to health and safety, it may be impossible to address one without addressing the other. Additionally, health and safety legislation, both at federal and provincial levels, is evolving to include governance for circumstances that were not always covered and that may seem more personal than occupation based in nature. For example, harassment and violence in the workplace (which can also include observance of workplace risks from domestic violence threats) and mental health. Knowing your obligations is of critical importance.

The Human Rights Act – Organizations have a Duty to Accommodate under human rights legislation – both for federally and provincially regulated employers. The duty to accommodate means that certain accommodations, or adaptive ways of working, may be required in order to employ some people. The duty to accommodate applies to all prohibitive grounds and may include things like, implementing physical structures to accommodate workstation requirements for persons with disabilities, allowing additional time off or creating flexible work schedules. The Government of Canada provides a detailed process outline for managers to help support employees and prevent discrimination.

The Canadian Labour Code – The Canadian Labour Code, or for provincially regulated employers the province’s employment or labour standards legislation, dictates certain minimum responsibilities that an employer must implement to ensure compliance. Some of the key standards that are relevant to workplace wellness include: hours of work and overtime restrictions, mandatory rest periods, protected leaves, and minimum pay requirements.

Taking Action – Implementing a Wellness Program

Step One – Senior Level Commitment
Like with most initiatives, success depends on senior level buy-in and commitment, which in this case is two-fold. It requires demonstrated acceptance to make the necessary changes within the company and to be willing to lead by example. Seeing senior leaders participate in the wellness initiatives can be very powerful and encourage others to participate aswell.

Step Two – Assessing Your Workplace & Workforce
A comprehensive assessment of your workplace and your workforce will help identify areas where your company is already doing well and uncover areas where improvement can be made.

The following questions can help you with your assessment.

  • Is there an openness/acceptance for a healthy workplace – by senior leaders, managers and all employees?
  • What policies and programs do we currently have in place to promote wellbeing (e.g. review time off policies, flexible work practices, group benefits plans, EAP offerings, and health spending accounts)?

Need a Tool? Trucking HR Canada has you covered. Download the  Sample Workplace Wellness Policy - to help you draft a policy that works for your company.

Sample Workplace Wellness Policy
  • Are there programs that help promote work/life balance? What are they?
  • Do you have programs that help address employee mental health?
  • What are some of the key metrics that help inform on employee wellness (e.g. turnover, attendance, insurance experience ratings, EAP utilization, and overtime usage)?
  • Review workplace culture indicators, taking into account contributing factors to workplace wellness.
  • Review the company’s health and safety practices for clues on where workplace hazards might cause wellness challenges.
  • Does your workplace encourage physical fitness? How?
  • Does your workplace encourage healthy nutrition? How?
  • What other barriers may exist that could impede your team’s ability to make healthy choices.

Engage employees in this process to ensure you have an understanding of their needs, attitudes and preferences. This can be done via employee survey, through one-to-one discussions, by conducting focus groups, implementing pulse checks, or a combination of them all.

Need a Tool? Trucking HR Canada has you covered. Download the Sample Employee Wellness Survey - to see what questions you can ask to better understand the impressions your employees have of your workplace wellness practices/ program and to identify how the company can provide employees with support that can improve their overall wellbeing.

Sample Employee Wellness Survey

Step Three – Prioritize & Implement Focused Actions

Consider the top needs identified within the Assessment (for both the workplace and the workforce) and prioritize a few focused actions. Understanding any budgetary restrictions will also be beneficial.

Some tips to ensure success include:

  • Don’t over commit. Be realistic about what the organization and the team can tolerate.
  • Consider taking a phased approach to initiatives.
  • Make sure the program includes knowledge gain and skill building components.
  • Assign a program lead, or team, to ensure on-going accountability.
  • Listen to feedback and adjust the program as needed.

Step Four – On-Going Evaluation

Implementing an on-going evaluation process will help to  ensure that adjustments to the plan are made when needed if the desired outcomes are being achieved. This is also important measuring success and demonstrating ROI. Success might afford you better buy-in and potentially bigger budgets. When evaluating the success of a wellness program, consider including the following:

  • Process Evaluation – participation rates, levels of interest, participant satisfaction.
  • Impact Evaluation – short-term changes in attitude, behaviours and skills.
  • Outcome Evaluation – longer-term impact on financial and health measures.

Need a Tool? Trucking HR Canada has you covered. Download the Assessing Your Company's Wellness Efforts tool - to give you ideas about how you can track and measure your wellness efforts.

Assessing Your Company's Wellness Efforts

Best Practices in Employee Wellness

Balanced wellness programs include a variety of efforts that can address the unique challenges and concerns of your employees, thus supporting their whole-health. The following are proven best practices, for employers of any size.

Supporting Physical Health


Maintaining a health body weight is an important factor in a person’s overall physical health. The following are ways fleet employers can help promote healthy eating at their workplaces:

  • Encouraging employees to bring their own healthy food options to work and on the road. Providing coolers in trucks and refrigerators in offices can help promote these efforts.
  • Leading by example by selecting healthy eating options at company events.
  • Providing resources on healthy weights and nutrition.
  • Working with a nutritionist to provide healthy on-the-road meal options, design customized meal plans and provide education to employees on healthy eating.
  • Offering access to weight management programs or apps (such as: weight watchers, noom or My Fitness Pal).
  • Providing gift cards and vouchers to healthy restaurants.
  • Partnering with meal delivery services (like Good Hello Fresh, Chefs Plate or GoodFood) to offer company discounts or provide employees with at-home healthy meal kits


Employers have a Health and Safety obligation to ensure workplace ergonomics are acceptable—both for driving and non-driving employees. Below are some strategies to help instill proper ergonomics:

  • Conducting regular ergonomic assessments of company work-stations.
  • Providing employees with tips on proper ergonomics for the type of work they perform.
  • Reminding remote workers of the importance of ergonomics in their at-home set ups.
  • Including an ergonomic check-list in the cab of trucks.
  • Implementing a process that allows employees to report concerns about the ergonomics of their work-stations.

Some good resources for Driving and Ergonomics include:


Physical activity has positive impacts on employees’ current health as well as on the prevention of chronic health problems. Fleet employers can help promote physical fitness by:

  • Providing wellness spending accounts that help re-imburse costs of gym memberships or fitness equipment.
  • Engaging with personal trainers to conduct fitness assessments, group fitness classes or record job-specific fitness routines or exercises (for example, for drivers).
  • Encouraging the participation in fitness through company contests.
  • Creating support mechanisms by creating a fitness accountability buddy system.
  • Offering access to fitness apps.
  • Providing portable fitness equipment – such as bands and skipping ropes – in trucks.
  • Provide other fitness resources, such as fitness routines, stretching guides and no-equipment workout suggestions.
  • Encouraging fitness throughout the day by starting meetings with stretches, encouraging walking meetings and providing company-wide fitness breaks.

Proactive Health Measures

Taking a proactive approach to one’s health allows employees to address minor health concerns before they become major health conditions. Organizations can support the proactive health of their team members by:

  •  Including paramedical offerings within the company benefits programs.
  • Providing access to tele-health services, including virtual doctor’s appointments.
  • Reminding employees to proactively seek preventative medical appointments.
  • Offering a concierge service to help employees book their medical appointments or identify providers along their route.


Sleep is a critical requirement for the productive engagement and on-going safety of employees. Employers can help support the healthy sleep habits of their teams by:

  • Adhering to realistic hours of work & overtime requests.
  • Setting limits on daily maximums for kilometres travelled.
  • Allowing for overnight stops within driver routes with hotel allowances.
  • Ensuring client delivery terms don’t jeopardize driver sleep ability.
  • Providing comfortable sleeping conditions (pillows, sleep masks, essential oils) for travelling employees and within trucks.
  • Giving access to meditation and sleep apps (such as Calm, Sleep Score, and Sleep Cycle).
  • Providing resources for healthy sleep habits.
  • Informing on the risks of lack of sleep.

Supporting Mental Health

Supporting Mental Health


    • 55% of Trucking HR Canada’s 2021 Top Fleet Employers celebrate mental health initiatives.
    • 67% of Trucking HR Canada’s 2021 Top Fleet Employers train employees on stress management and resilience.

    Trucking HR Canada’s Top Fleet Employer Program is a national program that recognizes trucking and logistics companies who meet HR standards of excellence. Each year companies undergo a rigorous application process, but only the best are recognized as Top Fleet Employers. Become a Top Fleet Employer 

Workplace Stress

It is important for employers to address the at-work stressors that contribute to on-the-job stress.

Examples of approaches you can take are:

  • Conducting employee engagement surveys.
  • Conducting management training.
  • Giving frequent updates on the financial success and stability of the company.
  • Reviewing job demands and work control.
  • Setting realistic productivity targets.
  • Allowing for flexible work arrangements.
  • Providing feedback – both positive and constructive.

Financial Stress

Stress caused by financial strain can be onerous on an employee’s mental health.

Some suggestions on how employers can address this are:

  • Providing financial planning services
  • Hosting financial planning seminars.
  • Offering RRSP match or pension programs.
  • Ensuring there is transparency and predictability in work schedules and pay.
  • Compensating for overtime.
  • Having second deposit options for savings through payroll.
  • Updating employees on the financial success and future of the company.

At-Home Stress
Balancing at-home and work demands can lead to higher levels of stress for employees.

Some strategies to help address at-home stress include:

  • Providing company-funded regular and emergency daycare options (like Kids & Company).
  • Sharing resources on where to find care giving options, for children, parents, family members who are ill.
  • Allowing for flexibility in work schedules for appointments and home care requirements to help employees achieve work/life balance.
  • Updating employees on the protected leaves that are available to them.
  • Subsidizing or providing resources for house cleaning, meal preparation, lawn care, or other at-home responsibilities that may increase the burden of the employee or their loved ones while they are on the road.


Community is important. The feeling of isolation, especially for long-haul drivers can be significant.

Fleet employers can help reduce this by:

  • Compensating drivers for unlimited data plans to allow them to stay connected to family members while away.
  • Creating opportunities to connect drivers with each other.
  • Organizing events for employees and their family members to help create community within your company. Invite family members of employees who are on the road.
  • Creating company social media channels for employees and their family.
  • Providing family “route maps” so that driver’s children can stay connected and know where their parent is.
  • Assigning check-in buddies who frequently touch base with drivers just to say hello.

Substance Abuses and Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction is a serious concern for anyone. For drivers, it could be deadly.

Companies can help provide support by:

  • Providing information on where employees can get help. The Government of Canada offers this Resource Guide.
  • Offering free tobacco cessation programs (directly or through the EAP/EFAP).
  • Providing resources to help employees learn about addition and substance abuse.
  • Training supervisors and managers on warning signs.
  • Allowing for job protected time-off for employees to seek help.

Other Mental Health Support Measures

In addition to the best practices outlined above, fleet employers can also support the mental health of their employees by:

  • Implementing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Employee Family Assistance Program (EFPA).
  • Increasing the per practitioner maximums for mental health care professionals within group benefits programs.
  • Eliminating the need for physician referrals for mental health care practitioners.
  • Helping to remove the stigma of mental health by participating in National mental health programs (such as The Working Mind Program, the Elephant in the Room campaign, Not Myself Today and Healthy Trucker).
  • Adopt the National Standards of Canada for psychological health and safety in the workplace.
  • Providing Mental Health First Aid training to managers and employees

Promoting Knowledge, Awareness & Acceptance

A big part of creating a wellness culture is ensuring there is on-going knowledge sharing and awareness activities. This helps to promote the organization’s commitment to and ultimately inherent acceptance a wellness culture. All support the creation of trust needed for employees to come forward with observations or concerns – personal or otherwise.
Some ways in which you can promote knowledge sharing, enhance awareness and promote acceptance include:

Educate Managers – As the first, and most frequent point-of-contact for employees, it is important that managers both understand why you are implementing the company’s wellness program and what the key elements within it are. Education may be required to ensure managers demonstrate the necessary compassion required to fully support their teams.

Lunch and Learns – Employers can offer lunch and learn meetings on wellness topics that have been identified either through the organization’s wellness metrics or by your teams directly. Many Employee Assistance Program providers offer free lunch and learn sessions to their clients. Also consider having team members who are passionate about certain topics share their knowledge. That could include sessions on personal fitness, healthy eating, mindfulness practices or any other relevant topic.

Group Support Sessions –Allowing employees a safe space to share their experiences and concerns can be really beneficial. Depending on the topic area, this can be something that is conducted without facilitation (i.e., fitness or weight loss discussions, obtaining balance, dealing with elder care challenges, etc.) or if the topic is more sensitive, there may be a need to engage with an external expert (i.e. stress and anxiety, dealing with a cancer diagnosis, experiencing loss, etc.). Group Support Sessions can provide employees with the opportunity for both support and solutioning.

Individual or Group Coaching – In some circumstances, it may be worth while to offer group or individual coaching sessions to individuals who are dealing with a particularly difficult circumstance. Alternatively, you could provide access to coaching services at a discounted rate, or provide reimbursement through a wellness spending account. Provide a resource list so that employees know the options available to them.

Health Awareness Contests – This is a fun way to help employees make healthy lifestyle changes. Contests could include awareness factors—fact finding missions—inside of fun competitions between colleagues. Connect prizes to the contest. Some specific areas where this works well are with weight management, physical fitness goals and stress management.

Access to Healthy Lifestyle Resources – Providing easy access to resources that will help address or prevent some of the key wellness concerns within your company can go a long way. For example, you might consider having a wellness portal within your company’s intranet where both the company and users can post beneficial content. For those that work in shared workplace settings, there could be a bulletin board where printed resources are posted. Companies may also wish to invest in health and wellness apps that help keep employees educated and informed.

Integrate wellness into company events – Wellness needs to be experienced and the organization can help make that happen. Consider how wellness can be weaved into on-going practices and larger scale company events. For example, ensuring healthy menu options are available at all company events, including exercise into the workplace (walking meetings, body breaks, stretches in meetings), and starting company meetings with a wellness minute.

Communication Best Practices

Great programs are meaningless if nobody knows they exist. A key success factor for a robust workplace wellness plan is to spread the word throughout the organization. Below are some ideas on how you can communicate both the larger commitment and on-going wellness initiatives.

  • Include the program details in the new hire orientation process.
  • Create a quarterly health newsletter.
  • Invite senior leaders to share their personal wellness goals.
  • Provide flyers, pamphlets and brochures.
  • Educate managers on how to share the details of the program.
  • Invite employees to share their stories on a private social media channel.

The more the company talks about wellness, the more it will thrive within your organization.

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP)