Alphabet (GB) today launches its Driver MOT Guide; a mental health resource to help fleet managers prioritise and check their drivers’ wellbeing, as well as their vehicles, and advance conversations around mental health in the fleet industry. This comes as new research from Alphabet shows nearly two thirds of fleet drivers found their mental health has been affected, when driving for work during the pandemic. Younger age groups were most likely to be impacted, with 67% of 18–24-year-olds and 44% of 25–34-year-olds acknowledging their mental health was often affected. Darker days and harsher weather conditions of winter have only added to the strains placed on fleet drivers.
50% of fleet drivers surveyed said driving this winter had caused their mental health to decline, and 20% often looked to reduce travelling in winter months to prevent additional anxiety and stress caused from tougher driving circumstances, such as reduced daylight and poor road conditions. This winter has been even bleaker as we navigate our third national lockdown, so it’s more important than ever that employers prioritise positive mental health and wellbeing for all staff.
Having faced ongoing changes and restrictions for nearly a year, it’s no surprise the pandemic has added to mental health concerns. In fact, Alphabet’s research showed that 35% of fleet drivers have seen their stress levels increase, correlating with a reported rise in working hours and workloads. Over half of drivers added that road structures and additional traffic calming measures introduced since last March, have caused further stress.
Kimberley Wilson, BPS Chartered and HCPC Registered Counselling Psychologist and Author of ‘How to Build a Healthy Brain’, added: “Mental health can be thought of as the balance between the pressures that our minds and bodies are under, and the resources that we have to deal with them. But lifestyle factors also play a crucial role in supporting our resilience. The most effective protective measures we have for positive mental health are supportive relationships, regular exercise, good nutrition, and adequate sleep and rest. However, the pandemic has added several new pressures, and greatly increased day-to-day uncertainty while removing many of our usual coping strategies. This all turns up the volume on our anxious or negative thoughts.
“As we spend a significant proportion of our days engaged in our work, the working conditions and the environments created by employers, have profound effects on wellbeing and psychological resilience. Alphabet’s Driver MOT guide is a valuable resource for fleet managers and source of support for drivers navigating their way through a very difficult time.”
For the fleet industry, the topic of duty of care remains an important focus, but often with an emphasis on vehicle maintenance and bad weather preparation in the winter months. Alphabet, working with mental health expert and Psychologist, Kimberley Wilson, has created the Driver MOT guide specifically with a focus on driver wellbeing; to highlight the importance of mental health during an increasingly difficult time. The guide offers fleet managers support and advice to encourage open conversations with employees around mental health and personal wellbeing, across the fleet industry and beyond.
Nick Brownrigg, Alphabet (GB) CEO, commented: “Soon we will be marking a year of living under lockdown restrictions and continued uncertainty, so it is understandable that many will be experiencing mental health concerns. Now, more than ever, the fleet industry needs to shine a spotlight on mental wellbeing and create an open forum to accelerate discussions around mental health. It’s important that drivers are not only aware of the resources available to them, but also feel empowered to make use of them and be their authentic self within the workplace. By establishing supportive, ongoing dialogue and discussing mental health in the right way, we can shape how it’s perceived within our organisations and across the industry. This needs to be at the heart of our duty of care as employers, to ensure drivers are kept safe and feel comfortable seeking the support they need.”