How to lead a culture of wellbeing and resilience
From hospitality to manufacturing, healthcare to construction, many industries are struggling to recruit the talent needed. The transport, warehousing, and logistics industry is no exception. So, what strategies can small, medium or large businesses adopt to tackle this issue that they haven’t tried before?
One solution that is, unsurprisingly, suggested is increased pay. During post-BREXIT LGV/HGV driver shortages, the UK Government suggested that better pay and conditions may attract more people into these roles. It encouraged businesses to make “long-term investments” in the workforce.
Yet just raising pay is not always an option in financially uncertain times. Moreover, various research shows that money is only one factor in employee satisfaction, recruitment, and retention, and not necessarily the most important.
So, what if businesses in the logistics industry took a different approach, and instead of a long-term investment in pay and bonuses, invested in creating a culture of wellbeing and resilience in their organisations to truly look after the workforce? After all, an organisation’s most valuable asset is its people.
Wellbeing – why bother?
Wellbeing is not just about site safety and preventing workplace accidents. It is about the physical, emotional, and mental health of employees, day in, day out.
This falls within the overall ‘duty of care’ that an employer has to employees. As such, many larger organisations, particularly those with dedicated HR teams, will have some practices and schemes in place to support this. However, wellbeing culture is achievable to logistics organisations of any size.
A bad culture around employee wellbeing can be extremely detrimental to your business. Low employee wellbeing results in:
- Poor physical and mental health
- Lower employee engagement levels
- High staff turnover
- Increased mistakes and errors
- Decreased productivity
- Higher sickness and absence levels
- Poor customer service
- Negative company reputation
- Reduced profits.
Some employers believe the solution is to invest in fitness-based wellness programs for their team. However, with much of the logistics workforce struggling with long hours, shift work, and poor work-life balance, taking advantage of such schemes is often unachievable. And if employees cannot embrace this type of wellbeing initiative, how can they, and the business, benefit?
The more effective alternative is to start by creating the right culture.
We can think of workplace culture as the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that make up the usual working atmosphere and dictate what it really means to be an employee at that business. This might not be what is captured in the employee handbook, but more the unspoken set of rules about how things are done, and how employees act.
When wellbeing becomes a core part of that culture, businesses can experience benefits such as more enthusiastic participation, greater peer support, more effective managers, and better business results.
To introduce wellbeing into company culture, logistics employers can follow three steps.
- Understand the existing workplace wellbeing culture
Investigate first how your business currently supports or discourages wellbeing.
- Are staff working long hours for low pay?
- Can they take annual leave when they need to?
- Are they expected to respond to calls or emails outside of working hours?
- Are they really motivated, or actually unduly stressed?
- Is job insecurity causing worry?
- Do they feel their manager cares about their wellbeing?
Conducting employee surveys or group discussions is invaluable for gathering these insights.
- Develop wellbeing initiatives for YOUR employees
Different workforces may face slightly different struggles. For instance, if stress is identified in the employee survey as the key issue, there are different ways to tackle this.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines workplace stress as “…The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work…”. It can result in decreased productivity and reduction in physical or mental health. For some, resilience training may be helpful. Whereas stress prevention, or support services for those with stress may better suit some companies.
If mental ill-health such as depression or anxiety is rife, greater wellbeing will be achieved through open communication with management and creating an environment free from stigma. Having trained mental health first-aiders in the workplace will also help.
However, maybe you identify that employees feel isolated or need a greater sense of purpose for their individual wellbeing. In these cases, company culture should include opportunities for teams to regularly connect and socialise, and opportunities for new responsibilities, professional development, and personal achievement.
Whatever the challenges, when your management has ideas for wellbeing initiatives, ask employees for their opinions. Involving them in the development of these schemes helps create a sense of ownership and greater engagement.
- Set the example from management level
Research has shown that having a supportive manager is incredibly important to many workers in logistics. Managers also play a vital role in defining company culture.
Therefore, they must understand the importance of employee wellbeing, and receive training on this if needed. Many may simply be unaware that greater wellbeing is often more effective for achieving measurable business success than getting employees working longer hours.
Moreover, they should lead by example, ensuring that they practice what they preach when it comes to wellbeing. And of course, communication is key for managers to create a supportive work environment for their teams with open dialogue around wellbeing.
Leading permanent change
Rather than focusing only on “the numbers”, businesses have an opportunity to create lasting cultural change by turning their attention to their people.
Once wellbeing is embedded within a company’s culture, it needs to be maintained through the right monitoring and management. This is what turns an initiative into a permanent change for the better. A change that results in improved employee retention, and a more attractive workplace for the new talent our industry really needs.
Free logistics HR resources
For more ideas on improving employee engagement, evolving company cultures, or talent acquisition, check out our free Talent in Logistics resources.