As delivery staff stress levels reach worrying highs, food delivery apps start acting

New Delhi:  Ajay (name changed), working as a delivery boy of a popular online-delivery platform, was rushing to deliver his order, but got stuck in peak-hour traffic and thus was late to deliver his order. He called up the customer to inform his situation.

Instead of being empathic, the customer called up his company to complain. Soon enough Ajay lost his job.

Hamid (name changed) accidentally pressed the doorbell of a house, he was abused. The list is endless.

In the world of instant delivery, every other day we hear stories where delivery boys are beaten, abused or assaulted. Often they have to traverse in the harsh sun, wind and rain; face longer hours of work and traffic snarls.

“There has been a consistent growth in consumer confidence for ordering online, steered by tech-led delivery networks. This, in turn, has unlocked the long-term potential of ready-to-eat food delivery,” Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group, CMR, told IANS.

“For food delivery startups seeking to attain sustainable and long-term market leadership, this market opportunity requires them to deliver not just on the instantaneous consumer delight, but rather the employee experience as well,” he added.

Owing to their tough workstyle, delivery boys often face a lot of stress, which can affect their mental health.

“Uncertainties of day to day life, life risks, long time periods, financial stress. It certainly impacts mental health. As a result they may engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms like consuming substances or other desperate measures to manage stress,” Mimansa Singh Tanwar, Clinical Psychologist, at Fortis Hospital, told IANS.

“To maintain positive mental health for them, it is important to improve the manager employee relationship where they practise values of empathy, integrity, gratitude and positive encouragement towards them,” she added.

Tanwar suggested that the delivery boys should be incorporated in the employee wellness programmes, and since there is also a connection between money and mental health, financial aids should also be there to support them.

Delivery boys should “focus on what they can control and engage in healthy stress mechanisms like building good support systems through positive family and peer relationships, and avoid engaging in unhealthy consumption of substances,” she noted.

In the movie ‘Zwigato’, helmed by Nandita Das, ace comedian and actor Kapil Sharma plays the role of a delivery boy, and showcases their struggles. Kapil shared that the character made him realise how tough life is for delivery boys, and that he has become more empathetic towards them.

“This movie made me realise the challenges that delivery boys face on a daily basis, and I have learned to appreciate their hard work and dedication even more. I am not saying tip them, but I am just saying that we can at least say a thank you with respect and that will make them happy,” Kapil said.

Meanwhile, several food companies have started several initiatives for its workers. Food delivery platform Zomato recently launched ‘the Shelter Project’ under which the company has set up public resting points where delivery persons can take a break from their exhausting routine and use amenities like the washroom, internet, and phone-charging stations.

In August 2020, Zomato also introduced period leaves of 10 days in a year for its women employees (including transgender people).

Swiggy has rolled out ambulance service for delivery executives and their dependents in the case of emergencies.


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