Compliance is generally looked on as part of corporate governance, especially within the banking and finance sector. What I would like to share with you is another area of compliance that is regularly overlooked but can provide significant dividends for any organisation when correctly managed.

SME business leaders are constantly looking for ways to grow their business, especially as their margins can be much smaller than large enterprises. The better the margin, the more money that can be re-invested back into the business to grow it, and reward its employees and shareholders.

Better margins come from increased sales, increased efficiencies, or a combination of the two.

If you operate a business that needs employees to ride or drive for work, you already have an untapped resource within your organisation that has the potential to deliver efficiencies and improve margins. By tightening up compliance within existing health and safety at work legislation you not only reduce risk to drivers, directors and the business itself, but you also have the potential to add significantly to your bottom line profitability.

Many small business owners aren’t even aware they need to have a driving for work policy, and for those that do, the policy is often incomplete, or not being managed and implemented properly across the business. This means that occupational road risk – the risk that one of your drivers might have a crash while driving for work – is not being managed and is potentially putting directors, reputations and the very business itself at risk. Not only that, but many of the costs associated with driving for work are being overlooked.

Poor management of those who drive for work can lead to large and unnecessary increases in operational expenditure for vehicle repairs, routine servicing and maintenance, fuel, tyres and fleet insurance as well as mileage claims from those that use their own car for work. As an example, poor driving can double the spend on tyres and triple the budget required for servicing and maintenance, while poorly managed fleets can pay five times the cost per vehicle for fleet insurance. Companies that monitor and manage their fleet activity closely, even when they only have a small number of vehicles, therefore have the opportunity to realise some very worthwhile reductions in all these costs.

Under UK health and safety law, companies must risk assess all their business activities to ensure they don’t put employees or anyone else at risk, and this includes any driving activities. Directors must then develop policies that reduce those risks as much as possible. A formal written driving for work policy is therefore essential in explaining the standards that are expected of those in your company who drive and ride for work.

A driving for work policy also contributes to overall employee well-being, ensuring that workers who drive and ride for work are kept safe and are looked after at all times. Employees who spend a lot of solitary time on the road – particularly delivery drivers – are prone to stress, fatigue and other mental health issues. High profile campaigns such as Heads Together, whose patrons are the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke of Sussex, and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), have given a voice to a previously undiscussed topic. This is a positive step that will contribute to reducing occupational road risk.

“What does it cost to develop and implement a driving for work policy?” is often the first question we hear from SME business leaders. That’s the easy part – it needn’t cost anything. It can be done internally by simply understanding the risks and setting out work practices that minimise those risks. A good starting point is Driving for Better Business, a free government backed Highways England programme. Aligned to the seven-step process, organisations have access to free guides and resources to help them with this vital area of risk management, including advice on what to include in your policy.

Hundreds of organisations across the country have signed up to the Driving for Better Business programme. Those fleets collectively manage almost half a million drivers and over 300,000 vehicles – figures which are growing every week as new firms sign up.

Ultimately, a good driving for work policy helps ensure that at a minimum, organisations are compliant with all relevant legislation and guidelines. Many SMEs find that improving how they manage their drivers and vehicles improves business efficiency, reduces business risk and can significantly improve business profitability.