Alphabet launches mental health resource for fleet drivers as nearly two-thirds report concerns
10 March 2021
Author: Sean Keywood
Nearly two-thirds of fleet drivers said their mental health had been affected while driving for work during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to research by leasing company Alphabet GB.
The firm has announced its findings along with the publication of a new mental health resource, designed to help fleet managers prioritise and check their drivers' wellbeing.
Alphabet found that young drivers were most likely to report mental health concerns, with 67% of 18-24-year-olds and 44% of 25-34-year-olds affected.
In addition, 50% of overall fleet drivers surveyed said driving this winter had caused their mental health to decline, and 20% said they often looked to reduce travelling in winter months to prevent added anxiety and stress arising from factors such as reduced daylight and poor road conditions.
The research found 35% of drivers said their stress levels had increased due to the pandemic, while more than half said that changes to road structures and new traffic calming measures introduced since last March had caused further stress.
Aiming to help fleet managers address these issues, The Driver MOT guide has been published by Alphabet together with mental health expert and psychologist Kimberley Wilson. It has been designed to encourage open conversations between managers and employees around mental health and personal wellbeing.
Among the guide's tips are to regularly check in with colleagues, who are the ones most likely to spot behavioural changes in each other, with just a short phone call potentially making a big difference.
The guide also encourages careful driving schedule planning, to reduce stress and ensure proper breaks can be taken, and says that drivers should be encouraged to be proactive about looking after their mental health and create a helpful work-life balance, with flexible working where possible.
Managers are also advised to emphasise the importance of rest, of eating well and getting exercise, and to make sure employees are aware of support available within the organisation, such as helplines or a mental health hub.
The guide says organisations should provide mental health training for all managers, with regular refreshers, and that there should be an open dialogue about mental health to remove stigma.
It says drivers should be given regular opportunities to provide feedback, which managers should take demonstrable actions to support, and that care should be taken over the language used around mental health, to ensure people are not defined by their behaviour.
Wilson said: "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."
Alphabet GB CEO Nick Brownrigg said: "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."