The impact of workplace strategy on the wellbeing of F&L employees
Freight and logistics employees are subject to a unique assortment of health and wellbeing risks in their working environment, including isolation from family, friends and colleagues, long working hours and shift work, the possibility of critical incidents, sedentary roles, fatigue and sleep deprivation.
In fact, Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds interim CEO Lachlan Benson, says, "If you look at the statistics across the sector, we're at a point where almost one in two workers in the sector will experience a mental health issue. Of those, close to 40 per cent of them will say that that issue was caused, or exacerbated, by work."
In addition, more and more potential freight and logistics employees are looking for an employer who aligns with their values, including their health and wellbeing goals. Gallup recently found that employees of all generations rank in their top three criteria "the organisation cares about employees' wellbeing". For millennials and Generation Z, wellbeing was number one.
So as the freight and logistics industry looks to attract and retain new talent, it's clear that employee wellbeing needs to be a priority. Workplace wellbeing strategy can help.
How health and wellbeing fit into a freight and logistics workplace strategy
At its core, a workplace strategy is designed to help your workplace thrive - to provide your employees with the best possible environment which enables them to do their best work.
Facilitating this all comes down to an evidence-based approach that ensures that your workplace strategy will actually support your employees - starting with their health and wellbeing, ending in their ability to produce their best work.
This is why Axiom has developed the wrkx Index, a tool to take the pulse of your F&L organisation. The pulse check is a carefully facilitated process, which extracts an Index score to be measured against industry benchmarks. From here, areas for improvement are determined, including health and wellbeing concerns, all backed up by data.
The future of workplace wellbeing - your key areas of focus:
Location agnostic wellness
F&L has always been an industry of off-site workers - from truckies to warehouse staff; transport companies have always had dispersed workforces. This dispersed way of working has intensified through the pandemic, with office staff working from home and lockdowns and social distancing protocols changing how workplaces are staffed.
Promoting the health and wellbeing of a dispersed workforce is naturally more complex than when a workforce is in a single, primary office.
A key focus of your health and wellbeing initiatives should be overcoming loneliness, social isolation and burnout - all commonly seen in a remote or dispersed workforce. While initiatives should go beyond your physical workplace or workplaces, your offices, hubs, and warehouses also play an essential part in keeping your employees healthy and well.
Creating shared spaces, like those Axiom designed for ARTC's FIFO workers at their HQ, can help to create connection between teams. Included in the design was a welcoming coffee point within the arrivals area for off-site employees and office staff to mingle outside of the typical work environment. This space purposefully creates an opportunity for collaboration and socialising.
Focus on mental health
Earlier this year, Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds released its National Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap 2021-2024.
"We want to change the conversation around mental health in the transport and logistics industry and begin treating mental wellbeing as importantly as physical wellbeing," said foundation chair Paul Graham, who is also CEO of Australia Post.
Clearly, mental health is on the agenda. But how can your workplace or workplaces help support your workers' mental wellbeing? Along with other initiatives, your physical workplace has the ability to not only support but to improve your employees' mental health outcomes.
Incorporating the natural world (biophilia), good lighting design, and diverse spaces (including spaces not designed for work - think meditation rooms, group fitness facilities, or even libraries) positively affect mental health.
"We'll start to see wellness reframed from something that is 'for me' and see it positioned as something that is 'for all,'" said Stephanie Harrison, founder and CEO of The New Happy, to Forbes.
This move from individual wellbeing to the wellbeing of the community is something that's also happening within workplaces. Thanks to the often isolated nature of work in freight and logistics, the wellbeing of the group and connection within the organisational community is vital.
Workplaces can encourage and bolster their community's wellbeing by prioritising communal activities like collaboration or town halls in specially-designed spaces. The workplace is where people should feel part of their community, thus bolstering their mental health.
Beyond this, organisation-wide wellbeing initiatives that are inclusive and available no matter the employee's location (like an Employee Assistance Programme) are also important.
New health and safety considerations in the workplace
COVID-19 has had an intense impact on the health and safety considerations of the freight and logistics industry. With an increase in demand and a new risk profile for employees to operate under, plus evolving testing and vaccination requirements, F&L's OHS situation is more complex than ever before.
One part of the mix is the physical workplace and its health and safety considerations, especially around social distancing. Whether these requirements stick around for the long term or not, right now, they are an important part of workplace strategy and need to be taken into consideration. Flexible spaces, clever wayfinding, desk booking systems and more are available to meet the needs of an F&L workplace, just like any other. Purposeful design is required to make existing spaces safe.
The key to a healthy and well workplace in your freight and logistics organisation? An evidence-based approach to workplace strategy which ensures your strategy will actually support your staff to do their best work while also having a positive impact on their wellbeing.
Working with the right workplace design partner will help guarantee your workplace strategy assuredly affect workplace wellbeing in your freight and logistics business. Choose the right workplace design partner for your organisation with our guide.