Over the last year and a half, we as a society have learned quite a few new terms and phrases. There has been a lot to learn from 'variant' to 'social distancing' to 'maskne'. One of the most critical terms to breakthrough, however, is 'burnout'. While burnout is not new, the global shift to remote working brought the phenomenon front-and-center for employers and their employees. What is burnout?
Burnout is a psychological issue that causes employees to become exhausted, tired, and lethargic about their work. It's typically associated with increased stress, work hours, or anxiety. While these feelings of stress don't always have to directly relate to the work being done, the symptoms of burnout often show themselves through frustration or irritation at work. In one study, over 50% of respondents said they were experiencing burnout in 2021 – and this number is even higher for Millennials.
While the world has been a little different for CDL drivers (they haven't had to work from home, for example), there is still plenty to be stressed about. From ongoing uncertainty around health and safety regulations to being deemed 'essential workers' and having to travel during lockdown to the looming threat of a global virus, there is plenty out there to cause anxiety and worry. Just because your drivers haven't been strapped to a desk this past year doesn't mean that burnout is not impacting them in a similar way to office workers.
Are your drivers burning out?
Unfortunately, discussing burnout isn't as prevalent in the realm of trucking as it probably should be. As a carrier, it's essential to regularly discuss burnout and other mental health issues with truckers to know that there are solutions available.
Here are some signs a driver may be burning out:
- The driver has a reluctance to take on jobs.
- The driver shows a sudden increase in vacation or mental health-related requests.
- The driver starts taking frequent stops while on the road, driving fewer miles each time.
- The driver asks for more trips closer to home or on local routes rather than extended trips.
- The driver starts calling in sick more often or has an increase in health issues.
- There is an increase in incident reports, including tickets or citations, which could be caused by irritability or exhaustion.
How to prevent driver burnout
As a carrier entity, it is your responsibility to put your drivers' mental health and stability as your organization's front and center focus. This means prioritizing time off, FMLA, and sick days with your drivers. It also means normalizing talking with your drivers about burnout and other mental health issues.
Often, once drivers understand the causes and symptoms of burnout, they can help recognize it in other drivers. This creates a chain of accountability that can improve emotional outlooks and, in some cases, save lives.
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