Time for a temperature check on mental health

By: Angela Splinter

Trucking HR Canada recently conducted an informal “temperature check” survey of employers and employees about the topic of mental health in the workplace.

While the intent was to gather information over our social media channels for a federal consultation on the topic, what we heard from respondents was alarming.

Considering the pressure the pandemic has brought to bear, it was no surprise to hear that the number of workers concerned about their psychological health is rising. What’s astonishing is how pervasive COVID-19-related mental health issues are among the entire workforce, leaving a swath of stressed-out people – from the driver’s seat to the shop, to the office.

The survey results and the discussions we’ve had since have prompted us to take a close look at how stress, isolation, family matters, financial pressure, and other factors affect the mental health and safety of people in trucking and logistics.

COVID-19 looks like it’ll be with us for a while, and we want to help employers develop strategies to help their employees cope with life at work and home and feel better about themselves and their work.

Here’s what we’re learning.

There is a stigma around mental health

By far, survey respondents said COVID-19 is the main reason for observed decreases in their overall wellbeing and mental health in the workplace. Other factors cited (in order) are workplace stress; poor work-life balance; organizational restructuring; increased workload; and financial stress.

A large number of respondents acknowledged that employees are more aware of their general state of mental health and feel more comfortable discussing it at work. However, respondents also indicated that stigma surrounding mental health is something that many contend with, meaning that there may still be reluctance to report a mental health issue at work. One person said the stigma around mental health includes a fear of experiencing employment repercussions (e.g., losing their license).

This suggests that an effective intervention to reduce stigma in the trucking and logistics industry would also need to involve a dialogue among many different actors: employer organizations, employee organizations, health and safety bodies, insurance providers, and others.

Everyone is affected, but the more vulnerable are affected most.

In trying to determine which individuals within the workforce faced the greatest degree of COVID-19-related psychological distress, we found that occupational categories were the most frequently cited factor. Nevertheless, it was shown that certain issues can come into play to make individual circumstances particularly important to understanding the full picture.

For example, respondents who cited these factors tend to be affected the most:

  • Those with pre-existing mental health concerns
  • Those working from home with young children
  • Those working in close quarters

It’s also important to consider the experiences of different demographic groups. Notably, the mental health of women in the industry was highlighted as a concern, particularly the manner in which female employees were treated by clients and—at times, by those they work with. Also highlighted as a concern was the mental health of younger men (under 30 years of age) within the industry.

For an industry looking to increase the participation of women and young people, these issues warrant further attention.

Help the helpers

Our survey results showed that employees in certain occupations have a higher risk or are more vulnerable to experiencing psychological injuries and illnesses.

Without a doubt, truck drivers demand special attention given their work conditions, with respondents citing familiar themes of isolation/solitude, unhealthy diets, and low physical activity. COVID-19-related factors included daily stress stemming from poor access to facilities such as washrooms, or access to good options for nutrition.

However, our survey highlighted other occupations of concern, notably (in order):

  • Dispatchers
  • HR staff
  • Office administration staff

It’s significant that the reported rate of mental health effects on HR staff was the closest to the prevalence rate of drivers. COVID-19 has exacerbated negative outcomes for dispatchers, who have had to bear the brunt of changes in routes and driver availability.

The fact that we look to HR managers, dispatchers, administrators, and others to support our drivers is important to remember as you develop plans to address mental health. The need to recognize and manage mental health across all occupations has perhaps been underestimated in the past.

As we brace for a longer recovery period from the pandemic, employers may want to consider a temperature check of their own workforces’ mental health.

Post-pandemic profitability will depend on it.

Following 2020: here’s what trucking and logistics HR pros should expect next

By: Angela Splinter

As an unsettled 2020 comes to an end, let’s look at what 2021 will have in store for our trucking and logistics workplaces.

The modernization of Canada’s Labour Code

In what our own Policy Analyst Marisha Tardif has likened to a “legislative tsunami,” recent amendments to the Canada Labour Code include new labour standards, wage-fairness rules, and occupational health and safety requirements.

Many of these regulations took effect in September 2019 but several are yet to come. Notably, the amendments of Bill C-65 and the accompanying regulations which protect against harassment and violence in the workplace.

The Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations, published in June, make a long-awaited detail official: new anti-harassment and violence provisions will take effect on January 1, 2021.

The regulations will apply to all workplaces covered under Part II of the Canada Labour Code, including many trucking and logistics employers.

NOC updates

Canada is now conducting its 10-year review of the National Occupational Classification (NOC), the federal system for categorizing job types in the country, including truck driving.

The next release includes new job-skill classifications that address concerns about how the federal government incorporates formal and informal training, education, and work experience into the NOC.

In early 2021 we will see how truck drivers are classified in the new system, and how it will affect federal programs.

Training and wage subsidies

With the events of 2020 clearly demonstrating how important this industry is, Trucking HR Canada was able to access federal funds for training and wage subsidies for jobs in trucking and logistics.

Our Career ExpressWay program has successfully supported the training and onboarding of close to 100 young people across the country, in driving positions, logistics, IT support, administration, and more. It provides up to $10,000 for driver training and up to $15,000 in wage subsidy per employee.

Our hope is that we can expand our program in 2021 to better connect our industry to Canadians of all ages looking for meaningful work in a sector with loads of career opportunities.

Diversity and inclusion

No longer buzzwords, workplace diversity and inclusion will remain a focus of Trucking HR Canada as we help employers expand the pipeline of talent into our industry.

One key initiative is our 2021 Women with Drive Leadership Summit, planned for March 10th.  With an international flair, we look forward to learning from and virtually connecting with a global network of women who have stepped up in their respective countries in responding to the challenges of COVID-19.

Driver shortages

Whether you believe it or not, we are on track for more acute driver shortages.

That is why Trucking HR Canada is planning to bring together industry stakeholders to define the root causes of our recruitment and retention challenges, from compensation structures to the nature of long-haul trucking driving itself.

The shortage of qualified drivers is an enduring issue. But there are always new approaches and new ideas that can inform innovative and practical solutions.

Growing our Top Fleet Employers

Now in its eighth year, our Top Fleet Employers program has grown steadily.

Our Top Fleet Employers are leaders in promoting a positive image of trucking and logistics and offering great places to work. By sharing sound HR policies and practices, they set an important example as we reach out to young people, women, and other job seekers.

Each year trucking and logistics companies undergo a rigorous application process but only the best are recognized as Top Fleet Employers. Applications close January 28, and you can click here to learn more: https://truckinghr.com/top-fleet-employers/

 

COVID-19

Where things will go in 2021 is anyone’s guess, but we know for sure that trucking and logistics will be pivotal to ensuring all essential goods—from food to fuel, and even more importantly, vaccines—get to all Canadians.

Rest assured that Trucking HR Canada and all of our partners are here to support you in ensuring you have the skilled workforce you need to make that happen.

Cheers to 2021.

A Word From Worldskills

November 4, 2020 | By Guest Blogger: World Skills Employment Centre

HOW WORLD SKILLS CAN HELP YOUR FLEET

Before the Covid-19 pandemic started, the trucking industry was already experiencing severe shortages of talent for their trucking positions and as much as 61% of trucking industry employers admitted to having trouble filling these types of positions in a span of the last 12 months.   Increasing the consideration of newcomers to Canada for these positions can help employers alleviate the vacancies for these roles. In the province of Ontario alone, newcomers/immigrants make up to almost 23% of the population and over 340,000 immigrants are expected to immigrate to Canada in 2020 alone.

Many employers such as the Federal Government, the City of Ottawa, TD Canada, RBC, COSTCO, Accenture, Business Development Canada etc. are tapping into this talent pool — adding global perspectives and experience to their workforce. Best of all, they find incredibly talented individuals who have an excellent understanding of the Canadian workplace and who are loyal to their employer. We have the largest pool of pre-screened newcomer talent in Ottawa who want to pursue truck driving as their career.  There are programs available to employers (conditions apply) that could help alleviate some of the costs associated with getting a new employee licensed and support for onboarding costs.

 

Looking for a solution?

 

World Skills, a non profit employment centre in Ottawa, has been a leader in enhancing newcomers’ economic integration into the Canadian economy for over 20 years. The centre helps immigrants incorporate into the workforce through employability assessments, employment competency building, job search training and support, cultural competency building, and language training.

To find out how to access these initiatives contact Theodros Haile

[email protected]

 

Post COVID, Trucking Still Needs to Consider the Driver Shortage

Post COVID, Trucking Still Needs to Consider the Driver Shortage

By Angela Splinter

Before COVID-19 hit, the Canadian trucking and logistics sector was already experiencing an acute driver shortage.

It was literally the day before the World Health Organization designated coronavirus a global pandemic that Trucking HR Canada released The Road Ahead: Addressing the trucking and logistics industry labour shortages.

Our report sounds the alarm on many fronts: high driver job vacancies within the industry, low unemployment generally, and the need to reach young people and women in order to expand and diversify the driver pool. And government has to do a better job partnering with industry and investing in training and access to wage subsidies programs for young people.

Just when we thought our research was done, the effects of COVID-19 on employment meant we had more work to do.

In May of this year we did just that.

We again surveyed industry employers directly to get primary data on the labour market impacts of coronavirus and applied additional economic modeling.

This is important information. The economy is preparing to rebound, and the government says it will look to provide tailored solutions for employers.

Timely, accurate, and credible labour market intelligence is the key to reassessing the industry’s needs and finalizing recommendations for moving forward.

Let’s take a look at where we stand:

Employment Forecasts

For the first two quarters of 2020, employment in the trucking and logistics industry is expected to shrink by 10.4% for a loss of up to 72,000 jobs.

Long-haul and regional truck drivers are especially hard hit. All told, the number of drivers is expected to contract by 10.9%, which equates to 34,700 jobs or roughly one in two pandemic-related job losses in the industry.

The increasing shift toward online shopping means that delivery and courier drivers are expected to experience a slightly below-average decline in employment with an anticipated 7,500 job losses, mostly in retail and wholesale trade.

Cost of COVID-19

Employment in trucking and logistics is tied to economic activity.  And, the trucking industry expected to lose $3.2 billion in revenue this year. The latest forecast of truck driver employment is 296,600 in 2020, roughly 21,000 below our pre-COVID estimate of 317,600 for 2020.

The labour shortages the trucking and logistics sector was experiencing pre-COVID-19 should moderate in the near-term, however, as demand recovers, vacancies within the sector will return as early as 2022, especially among truck drivers.

Projections

While drivers remain in a slightly different position from the rest of the industry, the projections indicate that trucking and logistics employment will stabilize by the first quarter of 2022 while remaining at approximately 1% below pre-COVID-19 levels through 2023.

The truck driver occupation is projected to experience a relatively fast recovery. Demand for drivers is expected to stabilize by the fourth quarter of 2021 and attain or possibly exceed pre-pandemic labour market projections by 2023.

However, anticipated retirements and other labour losses by 2023 indicate that this demand is unlikely to be fully met over the next three years. This important and timely research has confirmed that COVID-19 has simply stalled the driver shortage and has not negated it.

The question is whether we’ll have the perennial driver recruitment and retention challenges, including an aging demographic and need to reach women and younger employees, over the next three years.

Essentially, we could be right back where we started. At a time when many fleets are working to get back to their business of supporting the flow of goods through Canada’s supply chain, those tailored solutions our government keeps talking about cannot come fast enough.