Can technology reduce worker stress in haulage?
Richard Bird makes the case for a tech-led look at making the haulage industry less stressful.
Haulage is one of the most essential sectors in the UK. This became especially clear in 2020 when multiple national lockdowns forced bricks-and-mortar shops to close, increasing retail’s reliance on haulage and logistics.
A YouGov survey found that delivery drivers were amongst the occupations whose workloads rose the most during the March 2020 lockdown. As a result, almost half of drivers reported feeling more stressed, while two in five said they felt anxious.
A separate survey revealed that 32% of UK workers cite business technology as a key contributor to workplace stress. Unreliable digital systems was the biggest cause of tech-related stress in the workplace, with 46% of respondents naming this their top concern. This was closely followed by technology increasing workloads due to it being outdated, which affected 45% of respondents.
Unreliable technology and increased demands have created a perfect storm of stress for the haulage sector. As the economy begins to return to normal, we should see workloads even out.
Businesses can still support their workers’ wellbeing by not only improving the tech they rely on day to day, but also using technology to actively reduce stress. Here are four ways businesses in the haulage sector can achieve this.
Unreliable technology and increased demands have created a perfect storm of stress for the haulage sector.
Move away from legacy systems
Many businesses, particularly those in the haulage sector, are using bespoke systems that are no longer fit for purpose. This means employees are wasting time on tasks including manual and duplicate data entry and working to outdated information.
The good news is that modern transport management systems are designed to automate time-consuming tasks that have been affecting the sector for years. Intelligent job planning solutions, like map-based planning, allow your staff to visualise the most efficient routes alongside vehicle and driver capacity.
Electronic proof of delivery gives your employees the ability to generate single or batch invoices straight from your system, saving hours of time a day. These features mean a TMS will give your employees precious time back. Cloud versions also update automatically, meaning the TMS will always have the latest real-time information with secure data storage.
Having all your workers use one central system ensures everyone is working to the same information. It’s highly frustrating for workers to actively source up-to-date information if the system they’re working in doesn’t update automatically, so that’s one less thing for them to worry about.
Take advantage of mobile solutions
Drivers who are on the road need to be able to easily see their allocated jobs for the road. Without a solution in place, many businesses rely on unmanageable processes like WhatsApp or text messages, spreadsheets, or even paper documents. Not only is this an inefficient way to manage work, but it’s also easy to lose track and is not a secure way of storing your data.
Using a dedicated mobile app takes the stress out of job management for your drivers. Not only can they easily see and manage their deliveries, but you’ll be able to track job status in real time and be able to adapt quickly to any issues that arise.
This not only takes the stress out of their role, but it has the opportunity to improve their work-life balance. With two-thirds of employees in the UK considering work-life balance more important than salary, this is a key way you can improve employee wellbeing and satisfaction.
Use engagement tools
Haulage businesses have disparate workforces, with warehouse staff separate from office-based staff most of the time and drivers spending most of their working days alone on the road. This can lead to dissatisfaction and feelings of isolation, so it’s important to make your employees feel connected to your business and their fellow workers.
There are many ways you can use technology to help your employees feel connected and engaged. An intranet platform that is kept up to date with company news – whether that’s business wins or personal news like birthday announcements – is one key way you can keep your staff in the loop.
If your business was one of the many that made the switch to remote collaboration tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams last year, you can also encourage staff to keep in touch with each other via messaging or video calls.
Make straightforward admin tasks simpler
On top of their work duties, your employees need to keep on top of routine admin tasks, including submitting expenses, timesheets, holiday requests, and absences. If they’re unable to fit this into a standard workday, this can cause additional stress. Paper-based processes can also frustrate workers because they can be inaccurate, lost, or misplaced.
In addition to implementing technologies that work effectively and reduce manual processes, there are solutions available that make these smaller tasks more efficient. No longer will your employees rely on paper forms to submit their timesheets, expenses, and holiday requests.
Providing your employees with solutions like this means they don’t need to worry about requesting holidays or submitting vital expenses in their own time. There’s also a lower risk of these requests and supporting documents like expenses receipts getting lost.
In addition, you can disseminate essential information to your workforce – like health and safety guidelines or training content – and request an acknowledgement once they’ve read the information, which allows you to maintain regulatory compliance.
There’s no doubt that unreliable or outdated technology can cause stress in the workplace. Whether it’s a system that continually crashes because it’s outdated and no longer fit for purpose or software that requires manual duplication of tasks, it can have an adverse effect on your employees.
The good news is that there are technological solutions you can implement that make your employees’ working days easier, increasing their well-being and even their work-life balance.
About the author
Richard Bird, is regional sales manager at Mandata.
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