Impact of coronavirus puts 'deskless' transport workers’ mental health under strain shows research

New research from workforce management expert, Quinyx, reveals the impact coronavirus is having on the mental health of the transport sector’s 'deskless' workers.

The research reveals that a pre-existing mental health issue among the deskless transport workforce is being made worse as a result of the pandemic. Workers who spend most of their time away from a desk and work hourly shifts usually set by an employer are classed as 'deskless' workers.

Prior to the outbreak, more than a quarter of deskless workers in transport said that their job has negatively impacted their mental health in the last 12 months. Since the outbreak, nearly half of deskless transport workers (41%) say that coronavirus has made this worse.

Cuts to pay seem to be a contributing factor. 

Before lockdown began, 39% of deskless workers in the transportation industry who said that work contributed negatively to their mental health over the last 12 months, cited low pay as a main contributing factor and 28% said they experienced stress because they weren’t getting as many shifts as they’d like. During coronavirus, 40% of deskless transport workers have reported cuts to pay due to reduced hours or sales and 8% have reported being furloughed, which will likely have had implications on pay. 

Against a backdrop of significant hygiene and safety concerns during the pandemic, ineffective training and communications challenges could also be contributing to the mental health issues experienced by these workers. The research found that among the 65% of deskless workers in the transportation sector who class themselves as essential workers, over half (54%) say that their employer has provided insufficient training and direction to help them effectively do their job during the crisis – more than in any other deskless industry surveyed. This could be due to a number of factors, including challenges around keeping up with fast-evolving government guidelines.

During a period of extreme change and anxiety for businesses and employees alike, concerns over job security could also be taking a toll on the mental health of workers. Before the pandemic, 70% of deskless transport workers were planning on staying in their job long term, a number which fell to 62% during the crisis among those still employed. 

Erik Fjellborg, founder and CEO at Quinyx said: ‘’Deskless workers in the transportation industry have experienced significant upheaval during the coronavirus crisis. With many services switched off or slowed down – and the industry’s future uncertain – huge numbers of deskless workers in the sector have experienced reduced hours and uncertainty about what the future holds. Our research shows that the toll on the mental health of these workers is significant.

‘’The pandemic has brought huge disruption to the transport industry. For businesses to survive this crisis and adapt to their new normal, it is vital that employers are doing all they can to safeguard the mental health of their workers. Our research tells us that deskless workers want to feel appreciated for the work they do. And, while pay is something that many employers in the transport sector won’t be able to address at this moment in time, they can support and show workers that they care in other ways. Offering flexible schedules and opening communication channels, for instance, can help employers to show appreciation for their workers, and reduce some of the potential anxieties they’re facing.’’

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