Mental health as a core business value

The nature of work in the logistics industry is unique and comes with some inherent challenges — long hours, shift work, social isolation to name only a few.

With the global pandemic placing added pressure on the sector, operators of all sizes and scales have needed to act quickly to protect their workforce in unforeseen circumstances. Having a consolidated effort to address some of the prominent challenges right across the industry is vital now more than ever.

If our workforce is happy, healthy and thriving we can be better prepared to overcome adversity in the future.

At Toll, safety is our core value and we take a holistic approach to safety, of which mental health and wellbeing is an important part.

We are focused on prioritising training and education on mental health.

This is why we take pride in our close working relationship with Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds (HHTS).

Toll is a Founding Member of HHTS along with other key players in the supply chain industry who, collectively place value in sharing information, tools and knowledge that can assist the wider industry when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.

A mentally healthy workforce is not an ancillary ‘nice to have’. It’s essential for safe outcomes in the industry and should be prioritised to align with core business objectives.

Workforce wellbeing is at the forefront, as we strive to ensure our people can thrive when they’re at work and in their personal lives.

Within our business, we promote wellbeing through our internal wellbeing program, and we have seen great success in rolling out Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training.

By training our people in MHFA, we can instill them with the confidence to direct someone in need to the appropriate services required to provide them with the support they need.

Beyond this, it also sends a signal to the workforce that mental health is just as important as any other safety practice. We know that for many people in our industry, having an open conversation about life’s ups and downs isn’t always easy.

With a workforce that is predominantly male and often exposed to the stigma associated with mental health challenges, we need to find ways to break down these barriers.

At Toll, we set KPIs around safety conversations, measuring the metrics of discussions we have with our people, particularly around mental health.

We believe that this helps to develop the capacity for difficult conversations and helps to increase the number of healthy conversations between employers and employees.

Developing a space where workers have the courage to feel vulnerable leads to better conversations.

We have the view that simple actions like this can improve the overall wellbeing of the industry as a whole. While these small steps are important to building a workforce that is resistant and achieving positive and long-lasting impact, research currently tells us that heavy vehicle-related incidents caused by mental health stresses still sit at the forefront of concern for our industry.

Heavy vehicle drivers diagnosed with depression are almost seven times more likely to be involved in a crash than those without depression (Meuleners, Fraser et al, 2015).

Sobering statistics like this are a reminder that we still have a long way to go in building better work cultures that are psychologically safe, while reinforcing that we must continue to take action at all levels of the sector.

Personally, I have seen how hard the industry has worked on safety and hope that we can do the same on mental health and wellbeing.

As a Board Member of HHTS, I’m driven to create more open and engaging work environments, where everyone feels safe to speak up.

For the broader industry, continuing to work collaboratively is vital to achieving improved rates of mental health and wellbeing and to boost morale, productivity and engagement on a national level. Peter Stokes, President Global Logistics, Toll Group