The speed and scale of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is having a serious effect on mental health for some individuals. Stress is a prominent risk factor for alcohol misuse and people appear to be turning to alcohol as a method of coping with stress. In the UK, alcohol sales leapt by 22% in March, topping £1.1 billion in the four weeks to 22 March – an extra £199 million compared with the same period in 2019. Fleet managers need to be extra vigilant to ensure that fleet drivers are not under the influence of alcohol when they report for work.
During the pandemic event, it is common for people to feel shocked, or numb, or unable to accept what has happened. Be aware that people react differently and take different amounts of time to come to terms with what has happened. It is normal to experience a mix of feelings. Drivers may feel:
• Frightened… that they will catch the virus or worried about loved ones. They may be fearful about their livelihoods in the future.
• Helpless… that something really bad has happened and powerless to do anything about it. They may feel vulnerable and overwhelmed.
• Angry… about what has happened and find people/organisations to blame.
• Guilty… that they have survived when others have suffered or died. They may feel that they could have done something to prevent it.
• Sad… that people have suffered or died, especially if someone they know has been affected.
• Hopeful… that their life will return to normal. People can feel positive about things even during lockdown as a way of coping.
Research has highlighted the link between driver stress and unsafe driving behaviours showing that high levels of anxiety is associated with poor road positioning and driver errors, whereas aggression as a response to stress is correlated with greater speed and road traffic violations.
During the pandemic event, it is common for people to feel shocked, or numb, or unable to accept what has happened. Be aware that people react differently and take different amounts of time to come to terms with what has happened.
Here are some tips for fleet managers to help their drivers cope with stress during this challenging period.
- Some drivers may be suffering with driver stress at higher levels than others, and it is important to identify those at risk.
- Administer a valid driver stress measure such as the Fleet Driver Risk Index™ to identify high levels of driver stress among your workforce.
- Target those who need extra support.
- Ensure adequate personal protection and follow social distancing guidelines in the workplace to reduce fears and anxieties.
- Increase levels of communication to make sure your drivers know that their wellbeing matters.
- Ensure a two-way communication process so that fleet drivers believe in their ability to create change if necessary.
- Avoid putting too much pressure on your drivers and allow them to adopt a pace that they feel comfortable with. Increasing workloads when drivers are already highly stressed may be counterproductive. It may take a little while to return to previous levels of production.
- Brief your workforce on the expected workload within the company so they can predict when demands may be higher than usual and prepare themselves psychologically.
This is an excerpt from Covid-19: A Fleet Managers Guide by Dr Lisa Dorn, Research Director at DriverMetrics. The full guide is available at https://resources.drivermetrics.com/covid19/