A Spotlight on Suicide in Male-dominated Industries: Transport and Logistics

The Issue

Wellbeing has become something of a touchstone issue for the business world in recent years. Yet, against the backdrop of increased awareness and discussion, statistics surrounding the worst outcomes of poor mental health have worsened. In 2019, the suicide rate for men in England and Wales was its highest for two decades—higher even than during the terrible years following the 2007 financial crisis.

Transport and Logistics is an industry particularly afflicted with poor wellbeing, being the sector with the highest rate of absenteeism and the second highest rate for workplace stress according to a 2017 study. Also in 2017, ONS revealed that the suicide rate in forklift truck drivers was 85% higher than the national average, with van and LGV drivers also experiencing higher rates.

Clearly, suicide is an issue the industry needs to address.

Going Beyond ‘Boys Will Be Boys’

Conversations on suicide in male-dominated industries often focus on the chilling effect traditional models of masculinity can have on conversations about wellbeing; we expect to see phrases like ‘a culture of silence’, ‘boys don’t cry’, or ‘toxic masculinity’. It is important to recognise the negative impact taboos around the sharing of emotion can have on mental health in male dominated workplaces. But the way we talk about male suicide can itself contribute to the issue, by conditioning us to see suicide in male-dominated industries solely as an unfortunate bi-product of male culture.

There are numerous reasons why this simplistic view is problematic. For starters, there’s a real danger of placing all the responsibility for the issue on the shoulders of those who are at risk, rather than recognising that the trends run wider than that. Evidence that mothers use emotional language more frequently with their daughters than their sons suggests that social conditioning starts young and isn’t simply bound to male-male interactions. Messages harmful to mental health can come from all around: they are not just confined to ‘the locker room’.

And then there is the fact that male-dominated industries skew towards high-demand, high-pressure, competitive roles which involve working long hours. These jobs are frequently isolating; in the case of construction, the cause may be the need to work away from home on site; in the case of LGV driving, it’s long days alone at the wheel, and long nights alone in hotels or at the roadside. Focusing solely on male-male interactions ignores the role business culture has in creating these conditions.

And finally, presenting the issue purely as a product of male-male interaction ignores the fact that the issue affects men and women; women who work in male-dominated industries are more likely to commit suicide than women who don’t. The conversation needs to recognise and include them.

Tackling the Issue

There are numerous organisations, charities and initiatives seeking to tackle the issues of wellbeing, male suicide and suicide in male dominated industries. These offer resources which can be used to improve workplace culture and tackle the issue head on.

One of the cornerstone strategies used is to open up the conversation, creating a culture where issues of mental health and wellbeing are discussed, and modelling what that can look like. Those working in male-dominated environments need to be empowered to discuss their mental and emotional health openly, and without stigma.

But really getting to grips with the issue is more involved than simply ‘having the talk’. The charity Mates in Mind, which works with transport and logistics companies to tackle suicide, takes a holistic approach with a raft of resources aimed at educating, informing, developing effective policy and assigning meaningful roles. The charity Mind offers training, resources aimed at helping employers develop their organisational approach to mental health, and guidance on how to implement Thriving at Work standards.

As with any facet of workplace culture, we need to do more than talk the talk to create a culture of openness with regards to wellbeing. Strategies need to be bedded in, and backed up with meaningful action and support. If this can be done, there is good reason to hope things can and will get better.

 

PD PORTS COMMENDED WITH TOP ‘GOLD’ AWARD FOR ONGOING COMMITMENT TO HEALTH AND SAFETY

PD Ports is celebrating after achieving Gold status at the internationally-recognised RoSPA Awards for its ongoing commitment to demonstrating the highest health and safety standards across its operations.

The port operator, which is headquartered in the Tees Valley, owns and operates 12 key ports and logistics centres nationwide including Teesport, the fifth largest port in the UK, and Groveport, the UK’s hub for steel imports.

Awarded Gold status for the second time by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for continuously driving its safety first culture and ensuring the safety of its people, its operations and anyone who comes into contact with the business, PD Ports’ HR Director, Russ McCallion, said the status is testament to the resilience of both PD Ports and its people following the most challenging of years.

‘It is no secret that Safety is our number one core value, instilled in to each person and operation across the whole of PD Ports,” said Russ.

“Following a year that presented us with many personal and professional challenges as a result of the COVID crisis, our people, as recognised key workers, have remained vigilant and resilient, allowing health and safety to inform every decision in order to ensure that everyone leaves work in the same condition in which they arrived.

“As we were all forced to come to terms with the ‘new normal’ and alternate ways of working, our people adapted very quickly to increased safeguarding measures meaning that we were able to minimise any potential risk of COVID19 in the workplace. We’ve also placed a renewed focus on mental health over the past 12 months in order to properly protect and safeguard all aspects of our people and their wellbeing.

“This award is testament to the efforts of all our people in caring for each other, respecting the values of our business and providing an unfaltering service throughout 2020.”

Receiving over 2,000 entrants each year the RoSPA Awards are regarded as the highest possible accolade in the health and safety industry across the globe with winners regarded as world-leaders in health and safety practices.

Julia Small, RoSPA’s achievements director, said, “The RoSPA Awards scheme is the longest-running of its kind in the UK, but it receives entries from organisations across the globe, making it one of the most sought-after achievement awards for health and safety worldwide.

“RoSPA is very proud of the achievements of its entrants, and with this award we recognise the best of the best, those organisations that have gone the extra mile, raising the bar for the delivery of safety in the workplace. Employees, wherever they may be should be able to go to work safe in the knowledge that they will return home unharmed and healthy at the end of every day. Our RoSPA Award winners are central to achieving this goal.”

PD Ports will be presented with its prestigious award at a virtual ceremony in September.

Davies Turner strikes gold for health and safety

Davies Turner PLC has received a RoSPA Gold Award in recognition of the high standards of its health and safety performance during the period from January 01, 2020, to December 31, 2020.

Every year, nearly 2,000 entrants compete to achieve the highest possible accolade in what is the UK’s longest-running awards for health and safety and organisations receiving a RoSPA Gold Award are recognised as being world-leaders in this area of business administration.

Julia Small, RoSPA’s achievements director, said: “The RoSPA Awards scheme is the longest-running of its kind in the UK, but it receives entries from organisations across the globe, making it one of the most sought-after achievement awards for health and safety worldwide.

“RoSPA is very proud of the achievements of its entrants, and with this award we recognise the best of the best, those organisations that have gone the extra mile, raising the bar for the delivery of safety in the workplace.”

Philip Stephenson, chairman of the Davies Turner Group, said: ”For many years, health and safety responsibilities have been of great importance to the Davies Turner Group, and we have been actively involved in numerous initiatives to secure the health and safety of staff and visitors at our many freight hubs across the UK and Ireland.

“The formal recognition of our health and safety standards makes sound business sense, and demonstrates the company’s governance ethos and commitment on these issues.

“Over the last few years, we have also seen our clients seeking greater evidence that Davies Turner is fully engaged with environmental, social and compliance issues or objectives as they seek reassurance that they are dealing with a company that fully understands its corporate responsibilities.”

The latest award is in addition to last year’s certification of the Environmental Management System that is in place at four of the Davies Turner Group’s regional distribution centres in the UK to the ISO14001:2015 standard.

The company acquired ISO9001 accreditation for its quality management systems in 2013 followed by HMRC recognition as one of the UK’s first Authorised Economic Operators (AEO).  Davies Turner Air Cargo has also long held the Investors in People (IIP) award, meeting the highest standards of people management.

Stephenson concluded: “The latest award, along with our other certifications, adds to DT Group’s list of achievements in the field of internationally recognised standards of quality, safety, health and environmental responsibility, and further demonstrates our commitment to sound business administration practices to all of the company’s stakeholders.”

Managing Wellbeing in 2021

During 21st-30th June, World Wellbeing Week held its third year event. To commemorate the occasion, Talent in Logistics takes the time to consider guidance from CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) on how organisations can promote health and wellbeing.

In the wake of the pandemic, emphasis on wellbeing has never been higher, yet the findings of CIPD’s most recent report on the topic shows a long way to go towards making improvement. Key findings in the report include ongoing issues with presenteeism and leaveism despite the rise of wellbeing up the corporate agenda. Particular attention is given to the role of line managers in managing employee wellbeing, and the apparent dearth of support they are given in this crucial role.

According to CIPD, ‘Around three-fifths of organisations have a supportive framework to recruit, manage or retain people with a disability and/or long-term health condition,’ yet fewer than a third of organisations train and support the line managers in performing this responsibility.

Fortunately, CIPD itself offers a variety of resources and guidance line managers can use to tackle wellbeing issues. In their publication A Guide to Preventing and Reducing Stress at Work, recommended strategies including:

  1. Get to know your team better
  2. Lead by example to promote healthy working habits
  3. Review workloads, duties and responsibilities
  4. Reflect on your own management style
  5. Identify potential conflict and people issues and handle them early
  6. Discourage ‘presenteeism’ in your team
  7. Manage the mental health of your team while remote working.

While such resources will be of use to line managers, senior management’s involvement is crucial too, given the pernicious risks of poor wellbeing. CIPD’s guidance on the report recommends actively reviewing health and wellbeing activity; tackling the problem in a ‘joined-up’, strategic way; employing the use of wellbeing champions; and harnessing data. The importance of financial wellbeing policy is given particular emphasis.

Just as importantly, considering the dearth of training many managers receive, it’s just as important that senior managers are proactive in ensuring everyone in a position of responsibility has the tools they will need. This is something Talent in Logistics has covered before. According to CIPD, ‘A line manager’s behaviour, and the culture they create in their team, is the biggest influence on an employee’s work experience. By improving their management capabilities, managers can improve their own wellbeing as well as that of their team.’

The risk of poor wellbeing in managers themselves, particularly those promoted into middle management from a different role, is also worth bearing in mind. Authority often brings a feeling of increased responsibility both to the organisation and to those directly managed. This can lead to pressure, especially when the organisation is under strain. Unpalatable responsibilities like delivering critical feedback, reprimands, or, worst of all, the news that an employee no longer has a future at the company, can take a toll on a manager’s wellbeing. Feeling obligated for the needs of others, some struggle to meet their own.

Just as importantly, middle managers in particular often end up picking up a lot of work. Their position in the ‘gubbins’ gives them a Tiresias-like knowledge of the organisation: what is happening, where, how and why. There may be a temptation to ‘do it all’, picking up slack, troubleshooting, covering for others. And this comes on top of the often extensive and sometimes entirely new responsibilities that come with the role.

Newly elevated managers may also feel isolated. As one rises through the hierarchy, the dynamics of relationships and social-professional interactions shift. At worst the slippage can be tectonic, and new managers might have to deal with the animosity of a former peer. But even where support is warm, the change in the way communication works can feel distancing.

For all these reasons, senior managers and middle managers alike have a responsibility both to themselves and to those around them in the hierarchy. And sometimes, that responsibility is to take it easy. Practicing self-care, taking leave, delegating, and most of all, not overdoing it, are crucial to ensuring continued health, happiness and productivity. It can be tempting to be a work martyr, especially if we care about the people around us. But as the CIPD report makes clear, setting a positive example in self-care helps create a culture where others are empowered to do the same.

FREIGHT SERVICE AWARDS NOW OPEN FOR ENTRY

Entries are now open for the British International Freight Association (BIFA) – www.bifa.org – annual Freight Service Awards competition.

Now in their 33rd year, BIFA’s Freight Service Awards are open to all Members of the trade association, which represents UK companies engaged in the international movement of freight by all modes of transport.

As well as encouraging and rewarding high standards and professionalism, these awards, which are free to enter, also represent the ultimate recognition of special achievement in different sectors of the freight forwarding and logistics industry.

Sponsored by a number of blue chip companies, each of the eleven award categories is recognised as very prestigious and winning an award has become more coveted year-on-year.

The deadline for entry is Thursday, 7 October 2021 and entry forms can be downloaded from https://awards.bifa.org/awards

Finalists will be announced towards the end of this year, with the winners being revealed at the BIFA Freight Service Awards ceremony on Thursday, 20 January 2022, which has become an annual event on the industry calendar, typically attracting more than 500 BIFA members and their guests.

Comments Robert Keen, Director General of BIFA: “The awards represent the chance for the best in the industry to be recognised by their peers, and every year the standards improve.

“In spite of the issues caused by the pandemic last year, the BIFA 2020 Awards were well supported by Members, culminating in an online awards ceremony. I sincerely hope that January 2022 will see a return to the traditional luncheon ceremony at our usual venue, The Brewery in central London, to celebrate the BIFA Awards 2021 competition.

“The disruption over the last year caused by the pandemic, EU-Exit, chaos in the container and airfreight sectors, among other issues, presented Members with multiple obstacles and the judges are expecting a bumper crop of entries detailing the inventive and innovative methods that forwarders have developed to meet those challenges.”

The BIFA Freight Service Awards are separated into eleven categories, as follows:

General categories

Project Forwarding
Specialist Services
Staff Development
Supply Chain Management

Modal categories

Air Cargo Services
European Logistics
Ocean Services

Specialist categories

Cool & Special Cargoes
Extra Mile

Individual categories

Young Freight Forwarder of the Year
Apprentice of the Year

Sharon Hammond, BIFA’s Training, Media & Events Co-ordinator adds: “Some of the blue chip names secured as category sponsors include Albacore Systems, BoxTop Technologies, IAG Cargo, Peter Lole Insurance Brokers and TT Club, and whilst there are some sponsorship opportunities still available, these are disappearing fast.”

Further information relating to entries and sponsorship opportunities can be obtained by visiting the BIFA website https://awards.bifa.org/awards

Keen concludes: “The awards are an important part of BIFA’s mission to encourage our Members in their pursuit of improved standards and excellence within the logistics and supply chain industry.”

World’s first international workplace mental health Standard published

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has published BS ISO 45003:2021: Occupational Health and Safety Management. Psychological Health and Safety at Work. Guidelines for Managing Psychosocial Risks.

To help organisations prioritise people by supporting the mental health of workers, this British Standard aims to provide simple, practical guidance on how to manage the psychosocial hazards that arise in the work environment and that challenge health, safety and well-being at work.

It is aimed at all types and sizes of organisation, across all sectors. Specific users will include:

  • Line managers
  • HR staff
  • Business owners
  • CEOs and board members.

BS ISO 45003:2021 gives guidance on managing psychological health and safety risks within an occupational health and safety management system. It addresses the many areas that can impact a worker’s psychological health, including ineffective communication, excessive pressure, poor leadership and organizational culture.

The standard covers aspects such as how to identify the conditions, circumstances and workplace demands that have the potential to impair the psychological health and well-being of workers; how to identify primary risk factors and assess them to determine what changes are required to improve the working environment; and how to identify and control work-related hazards and manage psychosocial risk within an occupational health and safety management system.

Norma McCormick, Project Leader of the ISO technical committee that developed the standard, said stressors such as uncertainty, fear, isolation and changing workloads have been exacerbated for many workers during this period, but the standard is not just about COVID-19.

“Every organization has occupational health and safety responsibilities, and the current pandemic has brought into sharp focus the important role that psychological health in the workplace plays,” she said.

“While many have felt powerless about the impact of recent events, there are many things that can be done to build the resilience of staff and promote a strong organizational culture. This standard brings together international best practice in this area and is relevant to companies of all types and sizes.”

This new standard is a tool that anyone can use to prioritise the people within an organisation. It aims to help:

  • Identify where psychosocial risks arise and how they can be mitigated or eliminated.
  • Users develop expertise.
  • Increase people’s trust.
  • Manage risk better.

By preventing work-related ill-health, organisations can benefit from:

  • Improved worker engagement.
  • Enhanced productivity and higher levels of discretionary effort.
  • Increased innovation.
  • Greater organizational resilience and legal compliance.

Conversely, BSI suggests that the costs of not prioritising people and their psychosocial health can lead to:

  • Poor health, including cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Poor health behaviours, including substance abuse and unhealthy eating.
  • Reduced job satisfaction, commitment and performance.
  • Increased absence from workplace stress, burnout, anxiety and depression.
  • Higher costs for the organization due to negative impacts on turnover, productivity, quality, training and recruitment.
  • Higher costs from workplace investigations, litigation and reputational damage.

Is Your Business Post-COVID Ready?

With the nation fast approaching the heralded end of lockdown, the mood is optimistic. But as we have learned all too well over the last 18 months, any large-scale change can bring with it new challenges. In order to help you get ready for the impending ‘opening up’, today TIL brings you a checklist of key issues to consider in the coming weeks.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing has been a workplace watchword in recent years, and with good reason: HSE figures show that stress, depression and anxiety account for 51% of all work-related ill health and 55% of working days lost.

While for many the chance to reconnect with colleagues and friends face-to-face will be something of a wellbeing boon, it is worth paying more than lip service to the potential difficulties to mental health another big change might pose.

With uncertainty in the air, and the recent shock of lockdown, The Mental Health Foundation predicts fear and anxiety may be common responses to the onset of another change, especially among those who have developed coping strategies over the last 12 months they will now have to abandon. Tips on easing the transition include making any changes gradual to build up tolerance to the new way of working. It may also be necessary to offer flexible working to employees to allow them to manage their own wellbeing effectively. Which takes us to our next item to consider.

Flexible Working

Work from home has been crash-tested over lockdown and the news seems promising. More than 80% of employer respondents to a BBC poll said hybrid working was likely to be part of their plans post-lockdown, with many heralding big changes to the workplace and the working day. And that may be a bus you don’t want to miss, because a recent report by the consultancy Barnett Waddingham indicates a third of young workers would look for a new job if their organisation did not offer sufficient flexibility.

Tech

Naturally, with flexible and hybrid working touted, tech is going to play a big role in keeping businesses connected. The Zoom boom was brought a spotlight on the tools we use for verbal communication, and the need to organise teams without direct supervision has accelerated the rise of project management tools. Selecting the correct technology to suit your purposes and assessing how it, and your working processes, are implemented, can make all the difference to utilising your resources effectively.

Training and Development

Another critical effect of the lockdown has been a training crunch. The tightening of budgets was, perhaps, inevitable as a cost saving measure under lockdown, but employees are feeling the impact. According to recent research published by AI-driven learning platform Soffos, only 22% of employees feel their development has been invested over the course of the pandemic. Concerns are especially prevalent (once again) among younger workers.

Vaccination Policy

COVID-19 is still with us, and for as long as it is, it remains crucial that we are vigilant. Vaccinations will go a long way towards safeguarding the workforce, so it is in every organisation’s best interests to assist staff as much as possible in getting inoculated. ACAS recommends employers consider offering paid time off for vaccination appointments, paying staff at their usual rate if they are off ill due to the side-effects of a vaccine, and not counting vaccine-related absences towards absence records and ‘trigger’ systems.

They also recommend opening the lines of communication with staff about vaccine policy; advice that works for all the key areas we have covered in today’s blog. Opening the lines of communication and collecting your own data might be the best way to ensure you’re as prepared as you can be for the coming change.

Celebrating the UK’s road transport workers – HGV Heroes campaign

LGV Drivers

Following the success of last year’s HGV Heroes campaign, RHA Heroes, launches on Monday 10 May and this year it’s even bigger and better as it incorporates people and teams from the haulage, van and coach sectors.

From delivering essential goods to supporting communities, colleagues and customers, our industry does a fantastic job at keeping both goods and people moving, not just in times of hardship, but every single day of the year.

Road Haulage Association is  asking you, the whole industry, to nominate drivers, mechanics, warehouse staff, admin teams, or anyone you feel deserves special recognition for going the extra mile.

All nominations will receive an RHA Hero ‘thank you’ certificate and at the end of campaign will be judged by our panel to be crowned the ultimate RHA Hero and win a very special prize.

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive at the RHA said: “We’re asking road transport operators to nominate individuals or teams who deserve recognition, thanks or even a much-needed boost for their efforts over the last 12 months.

“At the heart of the UK’s road transport industry are real people. Let’s use this opportunity to thank them for their service, because without them, we’d have nothing.

“We’d also like to say a huge thank you to Michelin for sponsoring this years’ campaign.”

To find out more and to nominate an RHA Hero, click here.

Pall-Ex Group raises over £10,000 for Combat Stress

Pall-Ex Group has raised over £10,000 for Combat Stress, the veterans’ mental health charity, during its March in March challenge.

The team, made up of Pall-Ex Group staff and members, completed the annual challenge which tasks participants to march, run or walk a minimum of 10 miles during March.

Combat Stress is Pall-Ex’s charity partner and the money raised by the Group will support the charity in its life-saving work, supporting veterans with complex mental health problems including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Overall, the 19 team members raised over £5,000 during the month and the Group then matched this figure, taking the total to beyond £10,000.

The £5,000 contribution was made from the Pall-Ex Group Penny-a-Pallet fund, which is generated from a penny being donated for every pallet moved throughout the year.

The exceptional growth Pall-Ex Group has seen over the last 12 months, during the lockdown periods, has allowed the business to make even larger contributions to its chosen charity partners.

In addition to this, one member of the team, Nigel Mackenzie from Pall-Ex shareholder member Nissin (UK) Ltd, raised an incredible £2,015 himself, claiming third place in the fundraising leaderboard.

This is the second time Pall-Ex Group has taken part in March in March, having raised a few hundred pounds for Combat Stress in 2020.

This year, both of the Group’s pallet networks, Pall-Ex and Fortec, celebrate their 25th anniversaries, with supporting charities at the heart of this year’s objectives.

Pall-Ex Group’s CEO, Kevin Buchanan reflects on the team’s achievement and why the Group is proud to support Combat Stress.

He comments: “I am really pleased that the Pall-Ex Group team has been able to support Combat Stress again this year in its March in March challenge.

“As we celebrate our 25th Anniversary, we want to be able to do something special for our chosen charitable partners, so we felt matching the incredible total raised by the team was a great way to do this.”

The initial fundraising target set by Combat Stress for its March in March challenge was £40,000, which would have enabled the charity to deliver one to one psychiatric sessions to 200 veterans to help them on their way to recovery.

However, with over 800 fundraisers from around the UK taking part in the challenge, this target was quickly surpassed.

As of Wednesday 31st March, the challenge has raised a fantastic £122,995 which will allow specialist help to be provided to over 600 veterans.

Maggie Bennion, Senior Corporate Fundraising Officer at Combat Stress describes how important the contribution from companies like Pall-Ex Group is to the work they carry out.

She comments: “Everyone at Combat Stress is extremely grateful for the hard work the team from Pall-Ex Group has put in during March and for the contribution that Pall-Ex Group has made on top of this.

“The last year has been challenging for so many charities due to the pandemic, so to see such fantastic engagement with March in March and to raise over £120,000 is incredible. It will help us to continue delivering life-changing treatment and support to veterans across the UK.

“Thank you to Pall-Ex Group and everyone who took part in March in March – without your support, we simply couldn’t do what we do!”

Although March in March has ended for this year, there are still plenty of opportunities to support Combat Stress.

View a full list of fundraising challenges by visiting: combatstress.org.uk/support-us/get-involved

IR35 Reform: What Logistics Firms Need to Know

This week’s rollout of reforms to the tax rules on off-payroll working (known as IR35) will have a significant impact on the way many logistics firms employ contractors. In today’s article, we break down the essential information you need to know about the changes: why they are happening, what they mean, who they affect, and what to do next.

Why the reforms are taking place

The growth of the gig economy has seen a rise in the number of contractors utilised by private and public sector clients as a flexible temporary workforce. When dealing with contractors, many client organisations prefer hiring companies rather than sole traders. Historically, this has helped the client organisations to avoid liability for costly employment benefits.

In response, many contractors have established personal service companies (PSCs), which act as an intermediary for tax purposes. This makes the contractor more attractive to clients (indeed, it may be the only way to do business in some cases). It can also lower the rate at which earnings are taxed.

The government has decided to clamp down on this practice. HMRC feels that many contractors are, in essence, employees, and should be taxed as such, estimating the tax shortfall due to the practice to stand at £1.3bn a year by 2023-24. The changes were originally due to begin in 2020, but were pushed back until this year due to the COVID crisis.

What the reforms mean

The changes are designed to address this shortfall by shifting the responsibility for deciding the IR35 status of contractors to the client organisation. The government offers a number of tools to assist organisations in making this determination, as well as guidance on the changes: see the weblinks below for details.

In summary, organisations need to review the employment status of every contractor supplying services through a PSC on an individual basis and determine whether that person would be considered an employee if there were no PSC to act as intermediary.

If the answer is yes, the organisation needs to inform the PSC and individual in writing. Responsibility for operation of the contractor’s PAYE will then fall to the client or an outside agency.

These changes have several knock-on effects on the way companies do business. Alongside re-examining and potentially amending existing contracts, client organisations also need to put processes in place to ensure future hiring meets the legal requirements. This includes establishing a procedure to deal with disagreements. According to an article for peoplemanagement.co.uk, clients also need to consider training for those responsible for compliance, as well as examining the way they do business with agencies.

Who is affected

Medium to large companies across all sectors of the economy, including logistics. Accountancy and advisory firm Macintyre Hudson predicts that ‘the new rules will have a significant impact on the engagement of drivers and warehouse workers where these are supplied through intermediaries’.

Whether your organisation counts as a small, medium or large company is determined by your status under the Companies Act 2006.

What to do next

Follow the links to find government guidance on what your next steps should be. It is important to bear in mind that the new rules are designed to prevent a one-size-fits-all approach to deciding who in your employ falls under IR35. Failing to assess contractors on an individual basis could be a costly mistake, as HMRC have shown they are willing to pursue organisations making what it sees as bad faith assessments.

But issuing a blanket ban on the hiring of contractors—as some organisations have done in the run up to the reforms—may prove costly, too, with IR35 experts predicting those companies who follow a strategy of compliance will gain a significant advantage over those following a strategy of avoidance.

 

Hermes’ commitments to health and wellbeing

The star of consumer delivery company Hermes UK has been rising for some time now, and the company enjoyed its busiest month ever in December. While Hermes has not rested on its laurels in rising to meet the surge in delivery demand, neither has it been complacent in meeting the needs of its employees under the demands of life in ‘interesting times’. At the heart of a programme of health and wellbeing initiatives being introduced is the rollout of a 72 volunteer ‘mental health ambassador’ network.

Ambassadors are being trained not only in the skills required to listen to and talk with those needing support, but also to recognise behaviours that can affect wellbeing. Talent in Logistics caught up with Hermes Head of Reward and People Services Vicky Connell and ambassador Lauren Fletcher, Head of Depots – South, to find out more about the role, and ask how it aligns with Hermes’ commitments to ‘raise awareness, address the stigma of poor mental health and signpost clear information on available support and guidance.’

Vicky, what made you implement the policy?

The mental health ambassadors were implemented as part of an engagement/employee experience initiative. We actually began to investigate implementing the ambassadors before Covid struck back in early 2020, however the pandemic slowed down our implementation whilst we waited for non-face-to-face training to be available.

Did you start this initiative by asking your employer what they needed or wanted?

We have always found success in implementing programmes where we involve a cross-section of people from across the business to act as ambassadors. That is why we believed this initiative would work really well at Hermes. It is flexible, and takes on board feedback from our people to ensure it delivers what they need.

What KPI’s will you measure?

Absence: we will be looking to track the reasons for absence over time, not just the amount of absence, to enable us to better support people. Engagement: people’s perceptions of how their mental health is supported at Hermes. We will also monitor take-up and use of our tools.

How have business areas collaborated to create these wellbeing initiatives?

Ambassadors have volunteered from every area of the business… from every level, ensuring we are able to engage with all of our employees. The ambassadors will enable us to tailor our communications.

How is the initiative supported by senior leadership?

We have a number of senior managers who are trained as ambassadors. It has been fantastic to see the buy in from a senior level. We provide regular updates to our senior leadership team, who are fully on-board.

Has COVID-19 changed the initiative in anyway?

Covid has not changed our overall aim. However, we’ve had to adapt, and we’ve probably paid more attention to ensuring homeworkers are covered; previously people based in the office would have had greater access to resources.

What have the take-up numbers been like? What are you hoping to see in the longer term?

We’ve trained 43 people so from across the business, with another 48 to be trained this year. We had over 100 people put their name down to attend the training.

We’re still very much in the early stages. In the longer term we are hoping to see a change in our people’s perceptions of mental health, and to create a culture where people feel able and willing to have open and transparent conversations.

Ambassador Lauren Fletcher was one such volunteer. She had this to say: I asked to be a Mental Health Ambassador to support our operational teams in supporting our leadership focus on mental health and wellbeing, and also to champion every day conversations about mental health. In the demographic of our workforce this is still a big taboo, and I want to help debunk the notion that mental health is the new ‘bad back’… just an excuse for a day off.

Talk to me about the tools and training you are providing the ambassadors to give them the confidence to perform this important role. What does that look like?

A two-day training course is provided, accredited by Mental Health First Aid England and provided by Mates in Mind, specialists in Health and Wellbeing training for the logistics and manufacturing sectors.

This is followed with an internal induction so our ambassadors fully understand their role and remit. Each ambassador will have access to a toolkit containing full details of the services and resources available, and they can in turn share these with people in their area. Ambassadors will also attend regular internal networking events to share their experiences and best practice.

Lauren had this to say: I found the MHFA training to be informative, empowering and extremely well delivered. Despite having a close family member with a mental health condition, I learnt so much that will help me both personally and professionally: in recognising signs and in signposting people effectively to get them on a path to good mental health.

 

A Plan for Wellness

Today, Talent in Logistics shines a spotlight on wellness, with the TIL Wellness Action Plan. But what is a wellness action plan, and how can it help? Read on to find out.

Wellness is something of a workplace buzzword these days, but before you scratch it off your bingo card and move on, you would do well to give wellness some deeper thought. Too often, wellness is either left by the wayside as a nice idea that, in practice, we don’t have the time to pursue; or worse still, dismissed as an HR gimmick.

Even if we acknowledge the mountain of evidence that wellbeing is crucial to both productivity and job satisfaction, it takes a shift in habits and perspective to put that knowledge into effective practice. On an individual level this often requires a step change in the way we see not only work but ourselves.

Wellness action plans are a means of doing just that. They offer a simple, structured approach to addressing wellness that focuses firmly on practical action. And no, you don’t need an extant mental health condition to benefit. All you need is an open mind, and to put aside a little time to consider your habits and circumstances.

In the TIL Wellness Action Plan, we ask you to start by thinking about these questions:

  • What are the key pressures and obstacles you find yourself dealing with right now?
  • How are they affecting your sense of wellbeing/mental health?

Don’t worry about writing anything down just yet; simply mull these questions over in your mind and see what you come up with. Answers to the first question might include issues with work from home, for instance, whether that means a sense of isolation, difficulty with self-management, or a hectic home environment you find it hard to work out of.

Answers to the second question might be more nebulous, but try to take into account not only how you feel right now, but the general trend over the past weeks and months.

Now we’ve considered obstacles to wellness in general, lets do a more thorough analysis. Our objective here is to identify both specific problems and the practical steps that can be followed to solve them.

Grab a piece of paper or pad and write out detailed answers to the following questions. Aim for more than a few lines: anything up to about half a page is good; more if the situation demands it.

  1. How would you describe your sense of wellbeing/mental health right now, over the past few months, and in general?

If it is difficult to answer this question, try keeping a journal for a week or two in which you jot down thoughts and feeling a few times a day. This can be an eye-opener, revealing patterns or changes you might not otherwise be aware of.

  1. How would a period of poor mental health/wellbeing negatively affect your life at home and at work?

You know yourself better than anyone, so the best placed person to predict the kinds of obstacles, symptoms and repercussions of poor mental health is you. Remember, everyone experiences difficulty differently. There are no right or wrong answers.

  1. Are there any early warning signs you or your colleagues/managers could use to identify when a period of poor wellness is approaching?

Think about both behavioural changes others can look out for, and thought processes/patterns you can spot yourself.

  1. What are the key issues which cause you stress and difficulty? Consider both present moment obstacles and general triggers which can cause you to feel pressure.

Again, journaling can help to track and monitor this, too, so consider looking into the question on a rolling basis over time.

  1. How might you adapt your habits and working environment to alleviate specific problems?

The key here is to focus on the more diagnostic questions above and what you learned from answering them. Pick specific problems, especially ones which cause your pressure levels to spike, and consider practical, SMART targeted solutions.

These might include changes to the layout of your workstation, creating a ‘quiet period’ in your household at a certain time of day, taking a healthy walk over lunchbreak, or setting an alarm to remind you to eat a nutritious breakfast, for example.

  1. What can your employer do to help minimise triggers and provide support when things are tough?

Prevention is often better than cure, so try to consider how problems can be headed off before they arise. Nevertheless, it’s important to recogise that this is not always possible, and that there is no shame in asking for or receiving additional support should the need arise.

Now you’ve analysed the potential problems and solutions, the final stage is to communicate. Consider using this wellness action plan as the basis for a conversation with your employer, or even providing them with your written responses. Above all, check back in regularly with yourself and your plan. A wellness action plan can be a powerful weapon when you are struggling, but it is not a fire-and-forget solution. Revise your plan, answers and approach as and when things change.