Workplace Wellness Policy Sample

Employee Wellness Survey Sample

Assess Your Company’s Wellness Efforts

Workplace Wellness: A Holistic Approach to Your Employees’ Wellbeing

Introduction

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:

Diet

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.

Ergonomics

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

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

In Trucking HR Canada’s publication Gearing Up for Workplace Mental Health, 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.

Isolation

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.”

Stress

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)?
  • 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.

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.

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

Diet

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

Ergonomics

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:

Fitness

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

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.

Isolation

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
  •  

    For more information on mental health in the workplace, visit Trucking HR Canada’s Gearing Up for Mental Health: Best Practices and Resources for Employers.

    Visit this resource to:

    • Learn more about what and how best practices are being implemented amongst THRC’s Top Fleet Employers
    • Access resources to support and address mental health in your workplace.

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)

 

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.

New Anti-Harassment and Violence Obligations for Federally Regulated Fleets

New Anti-Harassment and Violence Obligations for Federally Regulated Fleets

July 7, 2020 by Marisha Tardif

 

Many fleets in our employer community have been following developments surrounding Bill C-65 ? a piece of federal legislation that amends the Canada Labour Code by introducing new guidelines on how harassment and violence can be prevented in the workplace, and how to address it if and when it occurs. While Bill C-65 received Royal Assent in 2018, specifics surrounding employer obligations and compliance timelines remained to be confirmed. But as per recent updates, there is now new information surrounding detailed requirements that federally regulated employers will have to meet.

On June 24, 2020, the federal government published the?Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations. The new framework will apply to the federally regulated private sector as of January 1st, 2021. Transportation companies that provide international and interprovincial services are regulated by the federal government and are therefore subject to these updates.

New rules will thus soon come into effect that will increase employers? responsibilities in matters of workplace health and safety. The new Regulations set a framework of obligations centered on three elements: the prevention of workplace harassment and violence, the delivery of a timely and effective response to incidents, and the provision of support for affected employees. Based on these three pillars, the new Regulations bring changes in the following main areas:

  • Workplace harassment and violence prevention policy
    • Employers will be required to make available a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy that aligns with new Regulatory requirements.
  • Workplace assessments
    • Employers will have to conduct assessments that identify risks of harassment and violence in the workplace and implement preventative measures to protect the workplace from these risks.
  • Emergency procedures
    • Employers will be required to develop emergency procedures to be followed in situations where an occurrence of harassment and violence poses and immediate danger to the health and safety of an employee(s).
  • Training
    • Employers will be required to identify and develop harassment and violence training and ensure it is delivered to all members of the organization, including to employers themselves but also to employees, and to the designated recipient of harassment and violence complaints in the workplace. Training will need to align to specific guidelines proposed under the Regulations, and will be delivered once every three years, including in the onboarding of new employees.
  • Support measures
    • Employers will be required to make information available regarding support services that employees may access should they experience an incident of workplace harassment and violence.
  • Resolution process
    • Employers will be required to respond to every notification of an occurrence of harassment and violence in their workplace, but also to structure their response around a more detailed web of specific requirements (including prescribed timelines, processes, and procedures).
  • Records and reports
    • Employers will be required to keep records relating to harassment and violence in their workplace. They will also be required to submit annual reports to the Minister, as well as report on any fatalities that occur as a result of workplace harassment and violence.

It is clear from the above that the new Regulations will require major adjustments to policies, programs, and processes for many employers. Given new requirements, it is important for both employers and employees to understand the nature of these changes and how it will impact them and their workplace.

Trucking HR Canada is committed to providing trucking sector-specific resources to support the needs of the industry in adapting to these new changes. Central amongst these tools will be a bilingual suite of online and in-person training modules for employers, employees, and designated recipients of workplace harassment and violence complaints. Pamphlets that clarify employer and employee rights and obligations will also be made available, in addition to other forthcoming resources centered on best practices in workplace anti-harassment and violence. These supports will be made available in time for the January 2021 entry into force of the Regulations ? follow our website and social media channels to find out more.

 

Survey Says: HR Managers Take Varied Approach to COVID-19

Survey Says: HR Managers Take Varied Approach to COVID-19

June 16, 2020 by Angela Splinter

Every employer across the country is feeling the impact of COVID-19 in its own unique way. But for HR professionals at truck fleets and logistics companies, they all have one challenge in common: making sure workers and especially truck drivers feel safe and secure in their jobs.

Trucking HR recently surveyed carriers, 3PLs, and freight brokers about the measures they have taken since the pandemic came to Canada and what they plan to do in the next three to six months. Let?s take a look:

Layoffs

Seventy-six percent of the employers we surveyed said they have laid off workers due to COVID-19, with 83% of those layoffs categorized as temporary. Layoffs of truck drivers were more prevalent in the short-haul segment and among employed drivers than contractors or owner-operators.

Dispatchers and mechanics were also affected, with 10% of employees laid off in each occupation.

Notably, employers that have already laid off workers said they are more likely to continue doing so over the next three to six months.

Employee-initiated departures

According to our survey, the most common reasons for leaves of absence and other types of employee-initiated departures were self-quarantine; the employee or a member of the household is at a high risk of contracting COVID-19; and family caregiving. Each reason was evenly cited among employers.

The combination of layoffs and employee-initiated departures reduced total truck driver employment across our sample by 11.4%.

Of particular concern to HR professionals is whether these employees have left temporarily or if we have lost them for good.

Reduced compensation

Not surprisingly, many employers have cut worker pay due to declining revenue. Roughly one in four employers in our survey have frozen salaries or wages for truck drivers. This measure was more common among companies transporting non-essential goods (31%) than those transporting essential items (15%).

Pay increases have been rare?13% of survey respondents said they are paying workers a premium due to COVID-19. Others are offering non-monetary rewards including flextime, child-care, and time off.

Another 15% of employers said they have provided truck drivers with monetary rewards such as gift cards.

Improving the image

The million-dollar question for our industry is this: has COVID-19 changed the stigma around working in the trucking and logistics sector?

The views are mixed.

On one hand, employers are divided about whether COVID-19 has made the job of truck driving more or less appealing.

While 35% of employers expect truck driving to be more attractive to prospective employees relative to pre-COVID, 23% believe the job will be less attractive, citing the attention brought to dismal working conditions and wages.

On the other hand, 29% of employers believe that COVID-19 has made trucking and logistics somewhat or much more attractive to other types of prospective employees (excluding truck drivers). This compares to only 4% who believe the attractiveness of the sector has declined for these potential employees.

Challenges ahead

It is interesting to compare these finding to another Trucking HR Canada study done in partnership with Abacus data where 54% of Canadians overall had a positive impression of trucking companies.

The Abacus study also showed that 85% of Canadians think a strong trucking sector is necessary for the economy to be healthy.

Yet barriers remain.

Despite the recognition brought to truck drivers for their essential role in keeping supply chains moving, people are still not rushing to join the industry. Just 35% of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35 said they would consider a job in trucking and logistics.

And when we look at the huge government relief programs available, namely the Canadian emergency wage subsidy (CEWS), our survey of employers showed that among employers that have not applied for CEWS, the vast majority (85%) have not experienced the eligible revenue reduction to qualify for the subsidy.

At a time when trucking and logistics companies are working hard to survive, they are also essential to the survival of their customers. We cannot lose sight of the fact that our industry needs a level playing field when it comes to accessing government programs and initiatives for employees.

We have seen what supply chains look like when Canada is in the middle of a health crisis. We need a financially strong and resilient transportation industry so HR professionals can keep their truck drivers safe and prepared for the challenges ahead.

 

Gearing Up for Workplace Mental Health

Trucking Talks Mental Health – Practical Resources, Tools and Services

Trucking Talks Mental Health – Duty to Accommodate and Duty to Inquire