Workplace Mental Health and HR Communications in a Crisis, with Geoff Topping, Challenger Motor Freight Inc.
Geoff Topping: [00:00:00] Communication, I think, was the biggest thing, and we started right away. Back on March the 11th, 2020, we started a communication plan that still continues to this day. We’re actually working on COVID Communication number 73. We started working on it this morning.
Geoff Topping: [00:00:16] Then, we started, they were going out kind of every other day for a little while, then we switched it to weekly, and then biweekly, and as needed. But very detailed communication that went out. We sent it out to all the drivers in the trucks via the satellite system. We sent it to every drivers’ email. We sent it to every employees’ email. We sent it to all of the mechanics. We posted it on our social media pages.
Geoff Topping: [00:00:41] But a very detailed communication that kind of explain what’s happening, what’s changed since last week, here’s what we’re hearing in dealing with the various levels of government, various industry associations. We really tried to keep people up to date on what we knew at the time, with the caveat that this is a very fluid situation, it changes, and we’ll update you as we can.
Geoff Topping: [00:01:04] Mental health is something I’m concerned about for sure, still to this day. I kind of refer to it as the mental health hangover that could come from this pandemic. And we’ve tried to share a lot of resources with people, resources that our EAP providers gave us, resources that are available online for people, whether that be just websites with information or access to virtual counseling, virtual doctors to get medical appointments, all those kinds of things. For the drivers, that’s certainly something that’s helped them a lot because they can’t always get home to get to the doctor at a certain time.
Geoff Topping: [00:01:43] But every one of those communications, we not only shared what we’re doing health and safety wise just to reiterate all the protocols and safety measures, but we tried to share as many resources as we could for people to access to help them, or their family, or their friends. We also sent out messages to the leadership team and the managers kind of on a biweekly basis during the initial phases of the pandemic with how to help manage your team or how to help coach your team through this situation.
Geoff Topping: [00:02:12] We just tried to provide a lot of extra information. We also made a point of doing management by walking around. I’m a big fan of that. And I tried and still do try to take a lap of the the full building at least once a day and just kind of check in with the various departments, see how people are doing, and kind of keep my ear to the ground of what might be the pinch points so that we can address that in those communications as well.
Geoff Topping: [00:02:38] In a time like this, communication, I think is the key. I’m sure we’ve over communicated in some ways. But I felt it was important to keep people up to date on what’s going on.
Geoff Topping, Vice President of People & Culture, Challenger Motor Freight Inc.
Geoff Topping has been in the trucking industry for over 25 years and has held many roles in that time. Geoff started his career as a Driver and has since held positions in Operations, Sales, Recruiting and Human Resources. Currently, Geoff is Vice President of People & Culture including Safety, Recruiting and Risk Management for Challenger.
Geoff has also served Industry associations such as the Truck Training Schools of Ontario where he acted as the Chair of the Carrier committee and is currently the co-chair of the Recruiting, Retention and HR committee at TCA as well as a Commissioner for the Niagara Bridge Commission. In 2018 Geoff was awarded the HR Leader of the year by Trucking HR Canada and is 2017 was also recognized as the HR Innovator.
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