Predictions about the future of the logistics industry often discuss the consequences of automation. Although this process will definitely impact the way this industry operates, other challenges, like mental and physical stress, should equally be addressed.
Is digitalization really the major threat to jobs in transportation?
The increased use of technology and automation of processes will have a strong effect on jobs in the transportation industry and possibly lead to a skills mismatch. While this topic is widely discussed, even bigger challenges are often forgotten. The CBS conducted a study at the end of 2020 to find out which jobs cause a poor work-life balance. Lorry drivers confirm in 18% of the cases that they feel a work-life imbalance often or very often, whereas only 7.6% of the total respondents reported a regular imbalance. This means that compared to the cross-section of all professions surveyed, truck drivers report a work-life imbalance 237% as often.
This is corroborated by a study from the year 2020, which implied that jobs in the transport and logistics industry are among the 12 jobs with the highest levels of mental fatigue. Looking ahead, job stress and exhaustion will most likely lead to a higher turnover rate. This means that instead of people worrying about not getting a job in logistics due to automation, the situation may change to one where companies have to worry about not finding people who want to work in logistics.
Reasons for job-related stress and mental fatigue in logistics occupations
Although job-related stress is caused by a combination of many different factors and differs per person, some industry-related factors are very frequently among the main stressors.
- Research in Turkey suggests that 20% of the variation in satisfaction among employees results from perceived job insecurity and stress
- The combination of time pressure, long working hours, and weekend work can be extremely burdening
- A low skill discretion along with high physical and mental job demands and a low decision-making authority often increase the psychological burden
- Physical exertion, for example due to shift work and long journeys, can affect mental health and put further strain on employees
The infographic below gives an overview of many potential factors that can lead to work-related stress and mental fatigue in logistics occupations.
What are the main symptoms truck drivers have to deal with?
An imbalance between work and private life impacts the individual as well as the organization they work in. For instance, higher turnover rates and absenteeism lower the company morale and overall motivation. The most common health complaints among professional drivers are shown in the infographic below
How can we improve the physical and mental health of logistics employees?
In-depth research on the challenges of working in logistics occupations is necessary to be able to improve the working conditions and consequently the physical and mental health of employees. A first conclusion suggests the following action points:
- Compensation time for unexpected events, such as traffic congestion
- Less time pressure due to longer lead times for deliveries
- Flexible working arrangements wherever it is possible
- Greater level of job security
- Improvement of ergonomic conditions of trucks
- More social support from colleagues and managers
- Open communication