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4 Ways to Manage Workplace Fatigue

17 July 2023

Workplace fatigue is a serious health condition that affects millions of employees worldwide. In the U.S. alone, workplace fatigue affects at least 2/3rd of the American workforce. Moreover, more than 40% of workers in the workforce claim that they are so fatigued that they have trouble concentrating on the task at hand.

It shouldn't be surprising that 97% of fatigued employees experience reduced cognitive performance. Obviously, when employees are unable to concentrate on the task at hand, it will have negative implications on their productivity, which eventually affects the organization's bottom line.

However, the most critical aspect of workplace fatigue is that it contributes to 13% of workplace-related injuries. Workplace injuries make a significant cost to employers as they have to pay for workers' medical compensation as well as incorporate the cost of employees' missed days at work due to injuries.

Workplace fatigue may seem to be an overlooked workplace health concern, but given its implications, fatigue management should be one of the top priorities for employers.

This post looks at some of the best ways to manage workplace fatigue. However, before we get into the details of fatigue management, let's learn a bit more about what leads to fatigue and what are the implications of fatigue in the workplace. Moreover, we will also share an insight into how employee fatigue manifests itself in the workplace.

So let's get started.

What Leads to Fatigue?

Fatigue can be a result of both work-related and non-work-related factors.

Some of the work-related factors that lead to fatigue include

Longer working hours,

Inconsistent working hours (for example, constantly shuffling between morning and night shifts),

Work-related stress,

An increased amount of time spent driving, particularly nighttime driving,

Inadequate workplace lighting,

Excessive noise levels,

Complicated tasks and

Lack of breaks while working.

Besides the work-related causes of fatigue, many personal reasons also contribute to fatigue. Some of these include

Medical concerns, including an underlying thyroid issue or cardiovascular disease,

Sleep disorders or non-consistent sleeping patterns,

Poor lifestyle choices such as alcoholism and lack of physical activity.

Implications of Fatigue in the Workplace

Reduced Productivity

As mentioned earlier, workplace fatigue contributes to reduced productivity as it results in difficulty in concentration. Moreover, it also leads to lower rates of worker engagement in a specific task.

Lower Quality of Work

When workers are chronically fatigued, their productivity levels will go down, which has a negative implication on the quality of the work they produce.

According to research, workplace fatigue resulted in slower reaction time, poor judgment, compromised decision-making ability, and distraction during complicated tasks.

Increased Risk of Accidents and Injury for Fatigued Employees and Those Around Them

The implications of fatigue intensify if the workplace involves the use of heavy or dangerous machinery. When an employee is fatigued and is operating dangerous equipment, the risk of serious accidents can magnify. The risk is not only limited to the fatigued employee using the equipment but can also be a hazard for other workers in the vicinity. Hence, the fatigued employee put themselves and those around them at risk.

Signs of Workplace Fatigue

Fatigue presents unique challenges for organizations; however, you can learn to manage workplace fatigue by knowing how it manifests itself. By recognizing the signs of fatigue, you can help improve the productivity of your employees while ensuring that all employees in your organization remain safe.

Some of the signs of workplace fatigue include the following.

Constant Tiredness

If your employees are constantly tired, this could be a primary indication of fatigue. When you as an employer or manager constantly observe your employees yawning excessively and constantly feel lethargic even during important conversations and while responding to critical commands and questions, it could be a sign that your employees are experiencing fatigue.

Compromised Employee Alertness

Another possible sign of workplace fatigue is compromised employee alertness.

When employees are tired, they are unable to process information quickly. Moreover, they can also not process the information accurately as they also need help focusing on a specific task.

When an employee's alertness is compromised, it can affect their ability to work efficiently on tasks that require accuracy.

Persistent Irritability

Employee mood is also a great indicator of how fatigue can manifest itself in the workplace. When you find an employee, who is persistently irritated or experiences extreme mood swings in the absence of a mental health condition, chances are your employee is fatigued, as irritability is the body's way of expressing its need for rest.

Poor Motivation

Do you notice a sudden change in your employee's motivation?

Fatigue could be the culprit.

When employees who were previously highly motivated appear to be suddenly lacking the motivation to perform the same tasks at their job may be experiencing a broader underlying issue such as fatigue.

An Increase in Errors

Do you notice a significant increase in your employee's mistakes? Consider it as a sign of lack of attention to the job. And fatigue could be one of the potential causes of compromised attention at the workplace. When employees are not getting enough sleep and aren't fully rested, they may be more inclined to make mistakes.

Frequent Headaches

Do your employees take frequent breaks from work due to headaches?

It could be a possible indication of fatigue.

While headaches can also be a result of dehydration, before you decide on whether or not your employees are fatigued, make sure you also check their level of hydration while they are at work.

Increased Off Days Due to Sickness

Are you employees taking more time off from work due to sickness? Fatigue may be the underlying cause.

When a person doesn't get enough sleep, the body wears down, and it has a negative effect on the body's immune system, that guards against the common cold and flu, and other viral infections. Hence, employees take more off days to recover from common illnesses that a rested, healthy body can conveniently combat.

4 Ways to Manage Workplace Fatigue

Now that you know what factors lead to fatigue and how the condition manifests itself at the workplace, let's look at what strategies you can adopt to manage workplace fatigue.

Some of the strategies that can be effective at workplaces include the following.

Optimized Work Schedules

If your organization has a rotating shift schedule, it's best that you allow employees to settle into a schedule well before you switch the shift and provide enough time for your employees to recover between shifts. Moreover, you should also avoid assigning long-term night-shift schedules if possible.

Another possible way to optimize the work schedule is to avoid longer shift hours (up to 12 hours or more). An 8-10 hour shift is more feasible for the employees. Moreover, allow for frequent breaks within the working hour shift.

Provide Opportunities for Power Nap Where Possible

One of the ways to combat workplace fatigue is to provide opportunities for a power nap for employees. The measure serves as a great way to recover from fatigue and improve alertness while reducing the risk of mistakes and injuries.

Manage Workplace-Related Factors That Contribute to Fatigue

Workplace-related factors like inadequate lighting, excessive noise levels, hot and humid working environments, and high workplace-related stress can also contribute to fatigue.

Hence, it is important that you manage each of these workplace-related factors that contribute to fatigue.

If hot and humid working conditions are a concern, provide adequate ventilation by investing in an appropriately sized ventilation system.

In case of dim working conditions, providing adequate lighting can serve as a measure to manage workplace fatigue. Make sure you invest in appropriate overhead lighting as well as optimize task-specific lighting by choosing task lamps such as Task Lamp TA1004BK by FlexiSpot.

Managing work-related factors that lead to fatigue can help employees feel more alert and productive.

Educate Employees About Sleep Hygiene

While most employees may be aware that their bodies need at least 6-8 hours of sleep, it is still important to guide them about sleep hygiene. Continue to educate them on the possible risks associated with fatigue and how they can work on their sleep schedule such that their minds and bodies get the rest they need.

You can offer organization-wide sleep disorder screening programs as part of the organization's employee wellness programs.

Manage Workplace Fatigue With FlexiSpot

If your organization works with employees with irregular work shifts, your employees may have a much higher risk of fatigue. Consider implementing some of the measures mentioned above to reduce workplace fatigue and look forward to alert and active professionals who positively contribute to the organization's bottom line while taking care of their health and well-being.

To find out more about how FlexiSpot can help you find solutions for effectively managing workplace fatigue, get in touch with us today.