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Driving for greater well-being

Businesses are increasingly recognising the link between company performance and staff that are healthy, motivated, focused and feel valued.

According to mental health charity, Mind, research consistently shows that when employees feel their work is meaningful and they are valued and supported, they tend to have higher wellbeing levels, be more committed to the organisation’s goals and, importantly, they perform better too. This strong relationship between levels of staff wellbeing, motivation and business performance is often called ‘employee engagement’.

Research shows that FTSE 100 companies that prioritise employee wellbeing outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10 per cent. By supporting staff wellbeing, they reap the benefits through enhanced morale, loyalty, commitment, innovation, productivity and profitability.

Wellbeing and driving at work

When we talk about the workplace, of course, this extends to company vehicles. For many field-based staff, whether they are on the sales team, are field engineers, care workers or delivery drivers, their vehicle is part of their workplace and is where they spend most of their time.

Unsurprisingly, many drivers suffer different forms of stress compared to office-based staff. Examples being, getting from one appointment to another with little time to spare, having to grab food on the go, sitting in endless traffic jams, getting up earlier than others to make it to meetings and getting home later in the evenings. 

It can also be a lonely existence on the road. Being a lone worker means less bonding with work colleagues and teams, time away from family, missing important events, and the choice between driving more miles and doing longer hours or staying away in faceless hotels.

From a manager’s perspective, field-based staff aren’t visible (making them harder to supervise), more difficult to manage on their outcomes, and they have to be trusted to be filling their time productively. Yet, by adding tracking mechanisms can feel a bit ‘big brother’ and, in some businesses, has been met with resistance.

Employee engagement and discretionary effort

So how do you overcome this? - ensuring that field-based workers in company vehicles feel as much a part of the workplace as everyone else. And how do you maximise their level of engagement and encourage optimum discretionary effort when no-one is watching?

According to Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, highly engaged employees work 50% harder and are 9 times less likely to leave a company. Their research also reveals that 70% of business leaders believe engagement is critical to achieving objectives.

With this being so essential, it’s important that field-based workers are not left feeling forgotten, making your company drivers a key area for applying engagement techniques.

Here are 5 favourites from the Grosvenor Group

1.    A company car is for work and leisure

When setting the company car choice list, offer some flexibility so that drivers can match the vehicle to their lifestyle as well as their work. Your sales manager may be a dog lover (and want an estate), your HR director’s children may have flown the nest and she’s now ready for something more sporty, and your head of finance may be a mountain biker and would prefer an off roader. If the policy is too restricted, you may offer them a car that’s suitable for their job but not their pastimes. Remember that behind every member of staff is a person!

2.    Avoid a ‘them and us’ culture 

This can emerge in a number of ways. For example, office staff feeling that they are more part of the company than field-based staff, because they are more visible and have physical desks and areas they can make their own. Or, on the flipside, sales managers making their sales team feel like the A team. i.e. the team that brings in the business and so everyone should support their every whim.  

Good line management will avoid this, particularly if the manager oversees a team covering both field and office-based personnel, creating a mutual respect for one another. Joint events, meetings and flexible work space in the office are also important - so that when people come in, they feel welcome, part of the team and not an interference.


3.    Use pulse and engagement surveys 

These can track morale and allow early intervention. By asking for regular feedback (anonymously if necessary) can help identify issues that can either cause a ‘them and us’ culture to grow or highlight a drop in engagement levels. For example, a company car driver commenting that they don’t feel welcome in the office, or office staff feeling that field-based staff don’t understand their work pressures.


4.    Encourage timely intervention

There’s a danger with remote workers that you wait until they are in the office before giving feedback. It means either criticism or praise isn’t given ‘in the moment’. As a result, those ‘out on the road’ are left in a vacuum of having very little feedback, but are then hit with everything when they come in. This isn’t just from their line manager but other team members too who say, “I’ll talk to her about that problem when I see her” or “We’ll celebrate that client win when they’re next in.” For the field worker, that means they either feel unappreciated, lonely and not involved, or know that coming into the office could be a negative experience riddled with problems.


5.    Lead by example

Senior leaders and managers should be role models for healthier work habits and encourage staff by example. For example, don’t send emails late at night to field based staff on the basis that their admin time is limited to evenings and weekends. 
Talk to them about scheduling in desk time. Also, if you know they are on their way to see a customer, don’t phone them knowing that they will be driving. 

Also, appreciate that many company car and van drivers make very early starts and can finish work later than those in the office. If they want to see their son or daughter in the school sports day, tell them to be proud and honest about what they are doing rather than letting them try and hide behind a made up appointment. If they feel valued in this way they will be much happier driving to those early meetings before their office colleagues have even got into work.

Finally, according to guidelines by the mental health charity, Mind, in the short term long hours might seem manageable. But sustained pressure and a poor work/life balance can quickly lead to stress and burnout, reducing levels of employee productivity, performance, creativity and morale. This can be avoided by encouraging staff to:

  • Work sensible hours
  • Take full lunch breaks
  • Rest and recuperate after busy periods
  • Avoid working at weekends – especially from home
  • Take their full annual leave entitlement
  • Encourage regular exercise

As a result, employers benefit from increased morale, commitment and productivity and reduced sickness absence, and employees are able to fit their lives around their work, helping them balance busy lives while remaining healthy and focused.
 

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Call us today on 01536 536 590

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GET IN TOUCH
Call us today on 01536 536 590

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Total Outsourcing

Fleet Management

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Pay as You Go Maintenance Management

Accident Management

Fuel Cards

Risk Management

Public Sector

Daily Rental

Short Term Rental

Light Commercial Vehicle Fleet Management

Fleet Consultancy

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