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1 in 5 transport & logistics employees considering quitting due to excessive stress

Nearly one in five employees (17%) in the transport and logistics sector are considering leaving their job role because of excessive stress experienced in the last year.

One in ten employees in the sector (10%) have already left their job role due to excessive stress over the last year — this is double the number of retail employees, and more than healthcare workers over the same period.

During the busy Christmas period and with increased pressure on staffing and workloads across the industry, employers are encouraged to invest in mental health support for employees. More than one employee in eight who suffered from excessive stress over the last year believe their company didn’t provide sufficient support.

Up to 27% of employees from the sector have taken off work for mental health reasons in 2021. 7% of employees have required unpaid leave due to mental health issues – this is double the number of those that took unpaid leave due to physical health problems.

The 2021 Stress and Mental Health study, undertaken by Vapeclub, asked transport and logistics employees working for 67 employers in the UK about their experience of stress and mental health issues in the workplace, the cause of excessive stress in their role and the impacts on life outside of work.

Almost half (46.7%) of employees have been struggling to sleep properly as a result of excessive stress – a problem that deeply affects day-to-day life, and can be dangerous as a HGV driver.

Meanwhile, (40%) withdrew from others or socialised less, leaving them to deal with stress without the vital support of friends and family. For 33%, feelings of excessive stress led to further impacts on their mental health.

Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health, said: “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Pressure at work is usually the main culprit and when budgets are tight and teams are small, people often find themselves with multiple roles and heavy workloads, piling on the stress.

Policies like turning off email servers outside of working hours helps ring fence valuable recovery time. Mental health first aid training can also help managers spot the signs or triggers and put preventions in place.”

Claire Brown, Career Coach and former Occupational Therapist for the NHS, said: “In this past year, we have seen the continued impact of the pandemic upon people’s careers and their experiences of the workplace. However, in addition to the existing challenges, there is now an increasing need to adjust to a constantly evolving and changing landscape. The constant change in expectations across a range of areas coupled with an absence of effective support structures and change management practices has led to an increase in work-related stress for many.

“Now, more than ever, employers need to prioritise the health and well-being of their staff teams otherwise they will find many employees forced to take sick leave due to stress or ill health. Any issues and grievances should be discussed openly with employees and they should seek to foster a culture in which work-related stress is de-stigmatised by recognising it as a genuine health concern.”

Is Boris’ ban of petrol and diesel vehicles going to crush the transport industry?

The UK Government has announced official plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. From then on, new hybrids or electric cars will be the only types of vehicles allowed to be manufactured – and after 2035, only pure electric vehicles can be sold.

This legislation was introduced to support the reduction of fossil fuel consumption and transition to a net zero society. Billions of pounds are being invested in electric vehicle charge points across England as well as for grants to help people afford to install charge points on their private property.

This petrol and diesel ban could help cut car emissions to 46m tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030, down from an equivalent of 68 MtCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) emitted today.

The sale of electric vehicles has increased in the UK by 185.9 per cent year on year; however, the majority of cars that are imported from other countries still have an internal combustion engine (ICE) – meaning they are either petrol, diesel, or hybrid. Around 26 countries are huge exporters of ICE vehicles to the UK, including the Czech Republic, Turkey, South Africa, Poland, and Italy. In the Czech Republic, the car industry accounts for nine per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). 154,468 petrol and diesel models were exported to the UK in 2019.

Challenges posed

While yes, the move to electric vehicles will drive down global emissions, which is becoming a crucial consideration for governments and populations worldwide following the United Nations’ ‘code red for humanity’ climate change warning, it will be expensive.

Road Haulage Association Managing Director Rod McKenzie told Sky News that alternative fuels for transport such as hydrogen and electricity will be too costly or won’t offer enough range. For such a drastic shift to a different method of fuel, there needs to be less doubt and more certainty for something that is hugely relied on.

McKenzie commented: “This proposal is unrealistic. Alternative HGVs don’t yet exist. We don’t know when they’ll exist, and we don’t know how much they’ll cost, and it’s not clear what any transition will look like.

“So this is blue-sky thinking way ahead of real-life reality. For many haulage companies, there are big fears around the cost of new vehicles and a collapse in the resale value of existing ones.”

Businesses involving heavy goods vehicles will be faced with many significant challenges – it will likely take a while for the price of alternative HGVs to be driven down while we wait for research and development to innovate them and make them cheaper to manufacture and run. Transitioning an entire fleet to alternative fuel won’t be cheap. However, there is a huge need for the transport industry to be electrified – according to the UK Government, 79 per cent of domestic freight was moved by road in 2019, and transport was the largest sector for emitting domestic greenhouse gases.

Greg Archer, UK Director of the European green transport campaign group Transport and Environment, argued for the ICE vehicle ban and the ever-growing need for this ambition. He said: “This plan is a milestone in the shift to a more sustainable UK transport system. The decision to only use zero-emission road vehicles – including trucks – by 2050 is world-leading and will significantly reduce Britain’s climate impact and improve the air we breathe.”

In a bid to help businesses, seven major British companies have joined forces to accelerate the transition to hybrid and electric vehicles – some of which have some of the largest commercial fleets in the UK.

Cost advantages for business

Businesses can save money on fuel – a report by British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association report found that electric vehicles cost between 2p and 4p a mile whereas the equivalent in diesel costs 12p per mile. Tax refunds are also available for the purchase of electric vehicles, meaning you can relieve some costs.

The government is offering grants towards the cost of a new van of up to 20 per cent and 75 per cent towards the cost of installing a rapid charge point at your place of business. Congestion charges such as the ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) have been introduced in some cities to achieve cleaner air to breathe. While a great initiative for local ecosystems, it makes some cities impractical or expensive to drive through with ICE vehicles. All of these considerations make van leasing deals seem a more attractive prospect for businesses relying on fleets.

What do you think about the plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles? Is this giving you the push you need to adopt greener alternatives in your life?

Transport & logistics staff more likely to be off work sick – Study

UK transport and logistics workers took nearly three times more sick leave than the average British worker last year, according to new research that identifies the countries most and least notorious for pulling a sickie. 

The research from time and workforce management solutions provider Mitrefinch, found that transport staff took 11.4 days where other workers in the UK took on average 4.4 days leave for sickness last year.

Switzerland topped the charts when it came to excellent attendance with its workers taking just 1.6 days sick leave on average over the course of a calendar year. Ukraine (4.1 days) and Malta (4.2 days) made up the rest of the top three.

While the stats for Swiss workers are impressive, it’s important to note that companies in the country are also notoriously generous when it comes to annual leave entitlement – the average worker took over five weeks holiday according to recent statistics – perhaps making the sick leave by UK transport workers more understandable. 

However, with recent figures also suggesting that more than two thirds of UK workers avoid taking sick days and still go into work when feeling unwell, it’s questionable as to why transport and logistics workers are taking 3 times more sick leave and whether their working day is contributing to the illness. 

Bulgarian employees were found most likely to call in sick, taking on average 22 days off per year according to the most recent figures available. Workers in Germany didn’t fare too much better taking 18.3 days, with those in the Czech Republic also taking off the equivalent of more than three working weeks with sickness (15.4 days).

The full results can be found below:

CountryAverage days sick leave per year
Switzerland1.6
Ukraine4.1
Malta4.2
United Kingdom4.4
Greece4.8
Russia6.3
Sweden6.4
San Marino6.8
Romania8.0
France8.4
Hungary8.4
Estonia8.7
Denmark9.0
Ireland9.2
Austria9.7
Finland9.9
Netherlands10.0
Lithuania10.2
Croatia10.3
Belarus11.2
Spain11.6
Luxembourg11.8
Belgium12.6
Slovenia13.5
Slovakia14.2
Poland14.2
Norway14.6
Czech Republic (Czechia)15.4
Germany18.3
Bulgaria22.0

Commenting on the figures, Matthew Jenkins, CEO at Mitrefinch, said: “Workplace absences cost the UK economy a whopping £18 billion a year through lost productivity, with this figure expected to creep up to £21 billion in 2020 – so transport and logistics workers might think that skipping the odd Monday at the office to sleep off the weekend’s excesses is no big deal, but it all adds up. On top of the dip in productivity, employees who repeatedly call in sick put a strain on other members of staff who have to pick up their workload, which can impact workplace morale.

“However, that’s not to say taking a sick day should be seen as a weakness or a lack of commitment. Taking time out of a demanding role to recover from physical or mental health problems is integral to the productivity and growth of any successful business and the fact that more than two thirds of UK workers admit going to work when feeling sick is a serious cause for concern, particularly within this space where any human error can have drastic consequences.”

Lizzie Benton, culture consultant at Liberty Mind, adds: “In Britain we still live by outdated legacy attitudes in the workplace. Fear and control is what many organisations are run by, and for employees, asking for a day off sick is like showing a weakness, or admitting a failure. We all think we should ‘keep calm and carry on’.  

“It’s not just the act of taking a day off, but the repercussions this may have when an employee returns to work. Managers treating them coldly, or over-questioning their day off as if to assume they were faking it in some way.

“I think managers often behave this way because it is bred in the company culture. Attitudes and behaviours start at the top, and if you have a boss who comes in no matter how they’re feeling you create a culture where people feel they can’t take a sick day. Trust is also a key issue. There are many organisations who have trust issues with their employees and which have policies to control their people rather than help them thrive. Too many businesses still believe that people are just there for the pay cheque and will do anything to get the most out of the company. There is no empathy and a severe lack of emotional intelligence.”

For the full results of the research, visit https://www.mitrefinch.co.uk/blog/time-and-attendance/sick-leave-uk-vs-europe/.

Logistics employees among most likely to suffer relationship breakdowns

Workers with a background in healthcare and transport & logistics are among the most likely to have experienced a work-related break-up.

That’s according to research from WMB Logistics, which polled 3,000 retired Britons about how their previous career choices and working lives had affected their personal relationships, particularly with their partners.

89% of retirees agreed that issues relating to their careers had affected their day-to-day lives outside of the workplace, with ‘a pressure to hit targets’ (29%), ‘long/unsociable working hours’ (24%) and ‘poor relationships with co-workers’ (16%) emerging as the most likely reasons why. 

When asked if their career had been a contributing factor in the breakdown of a long-term relationship or marriage during their working lives, almost one third (31%) admitted that it had been. 

All participants taking part in the study, whether they’d experienced a relationship breakdown or not, were asked to state the industry or sector they’d worked in to determine any patterns.

Subsequently, the five industries in which workers were most likely to have experienced relationship breakdowns were found to be:

  1. Healthcare – 65% (the number of relationship breakdowns in this sector alone)
  2. Transport & Logistics – 61%
  3. Social care – 56%
  4. Hospitality – 56%
  5. Sport & Fitness  – 54%

Those who cited that long or unsociable working hours were the main reason their work-life balance failed stated it had affected their relationship as they typically either ‘drifted apart’ from their partner (36%) or one or both of them had gone on to be unfaithful (24%). 

When looking at the industries found to be the most successful at maintaining a long-term partnerships, those working in Administration (5%), Hair and Beauty (7%) and Retail sectors (8%) all had very low percentages in terms of the number of failed relationships.

Just 5% attributed relationship/marriage counselling to their success, with over half (56%) disclosing how they and made time for their partner and left their working lives outside of the home.

A senior spokesperson for WMB Logistics said: “The majority of us spend a significantly larger portion of our waking hours at work than we do at home with our spouses and families, so what little time we do get should be spent wisely; talking, enjoying each other’s company and leaving work at the office. That being said, in many industries there are pressures and deadlines that will mean work spills into the evenings and weekends, and sometimes that simply can’t be helped. 

“As our research indicates, a lot of people are experiencing failed relationships due to the pressures of work creeping into their personal lives. In order to avoid this happening to you, try making a conscious effort to leave work behind as much as you can and focus on staying present in the moment with your loved ones. Relationships naturally breakdown sometimes, but you should never let your job be one of the reasons why.”

Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay