Supply chains are crucial to the economy. However, it can also be a challenging industry to work in, especially when it comes to mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression — even more so during a pandemic.

While COVID-19 forced numerous sectors to slow down and even shut up shop for months over its course, the exact opposite has been happening among supply chains.

As panic buying swept the nation at the beginning of the lockdowns, and more people required home delivery as retail outlets closed, the demand for goods rose exponentially. And it hasn’t let up in over 18 months now.

This has caused a massive strain on workers across the sector — from logistics managers to drivers — and resulted in heavier and more stressful workloads than ever before.

For companies looking at ways to better support the mental health of their employees, there are three primary areas to highlight. Solutions that address individual mental health challenges faced by different teams through open communication, solutions that provide relief across the company through awareness and support, and solutions that reduce stress and increase job satisfaction through technology.

Identify individual issues

To get started on improving mental health in the workforce, it’s important to look closely at individual teams to identify their specific challenges. Each area of a supply chain has incredibly unique issues that they have to deal with on a daily basis, and having a support structure in place to address them is vital. Once challenges are identified you can begin implementing process changes to reduce the stress of your various teams. 

Enhance awareness and support

With the latter improvements that can benefit the entire company, starting out by providing no questions asked paid mental health days can be a great start. Acknowledging that employees sometimes need a break for no other reason than to take a breather away from work can go a long way toward showing employees that you value their mental health. 

This is something that Shipwell implemented during Mental Health Month in May of this year, providing employees with unlimited paid time off and mental health days. Unlimited time off may sound extreme, but with proper management, it provides employees with the security of knowing that they are both able and welcome to care for themselves.

Reduce stress through technology

Further company-wide changes can also be brought in through supportive technology. Finding ways to eliminate tiresome manual processes through automation, bringing different systems together to eliminate back and forth data entry, stepping away from complicated and difficult to manage spreadsheets and bringing in a platform that collects and organizes data automatically. Any aspect of the task of managing a supply chain that can be simplified to make life easier for employees serves to benefit not only your workers’ mental health, but company efficiency as well. 

Getting started on improving the mental health of those who keep your supply chain running can sound both challenging and expensive, but you need to remember that for every dollar invested in support programs and technology for proactive workplace wellbeing, you can expect to see a return of $5. Improved workplace culture, higher motivation and productivity, reduced time taken off due to poor mental health — all of these add up to provide an excellent ROI on any mental health initiatives you take on.

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