Understanding and Dealing with Workplace Fatigue
One of the most overlooked dangers lurking in most businesses today is workplace fatigue. It contributes more than $136 billion in healthcare costs annually to US employers due to lost productivity, increased absences and fatigue-related medical claims. Fatigue management strategies
As an employer, the first step in dealing with workplace fatigue is to understand the many facets of the condition. Only then can you create a strategy that isolates the exact causes of fatigue in your business and addresses them.
Why are people so fatigued at home office?
To talk about mental exhaustion at remote job right now, we need to consider the effects of the pandemic in the routine of people. A survey, by Banco Original in conjunction with the 4CO consultancy, showed that 57% of the 695 respondents feel more tired in the home office . However, for 78%, telecommuting could be a better experience if it weren’t for the pandemic.
Among the factors of social isolation is the fact that the house has also become our workplace and leisure environment. With that, it became more complex to separate the time of each activity. After all, it’s quick and easy to open the email and reply to some outstanding messages. However, without efficient time management, working out of hours can become a habit and this comes at a cost to well-being.
A Runrun.it study on remote working shows that 62% of the 252 employees interviewed, from different companies, are working longer hours. Meanwhile, 61.7% believe they are delivering the same amount of tasks or even more. This increase in productivity may be a reflection of the home office, after all, some people manage to have fewer interruptions and distractions working from home than they would at the company. Fatigue management strategies
However, another study by Runrun.it on Burnout Syndrome, mentioned above, shows that there is work overload in the home office for 37% of managers and, in relation to employees, this number rises to 45%. Therefore, this unhealthy increase in productivity that burdens people may have its origins in micromanagement .
As leaders cannot see the dedication of employees at work, they can make more frequent and arbitrary demands, which can go against the grain and discourage people who are giving their best, but are not recognized. With that, you start to work more, but not necessarily with efficiency and quality in the tasks delivered.
The Two Types of Workplace Fatigue
Workplace fatigue can generally be categorized into two types: acute or chronic. Acute fatigue is caused by short-term sleep deficiency or brief periods of intense physical or mental activity. The good thing about it is that it can be reversed with sleep and relaxation.
With chronic fatigue, the worker constantly experiences a state of tiredness, which cannot be relieved with sleep. In this post, I’ll explain the main causes of fatigue in the workplace and recommend strategies for dealing with this growing problem.
Causes of Workplace Fatigue
lack of enough sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night. Unfortunately, studies have shown that only 10% of American adults make sleep a priority. For many, other aspects such as work, social life and personal interests are more important than getting enough sleep. Fatigue management strategies
night work hours
While this is linked to the first factor, the National Safety Council has identified it as a distinct cause of workplace fatigue.
Ideally, our bodies are programmed to work during the day and rest at night. But that’s not the case for many Americans who work night shifts and stay up late, often trying to finish work projects. In doing so, they work against the body’s internal clock, which in turn causes sleep disturbances and fatigue.
Studies have shown that losing just two hours of sleep creates a mental disability similar to drinking three beers, which puts the safety of the tired worker and those around them at risk.
Another likely cause of fatigue is the working environment, such as indoor air pollution. With the majority of Americans spending up to 90% of their time indoors, it’s no wonder they are the most susceptible to this risk.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are two main reasons for the increase in indoor air pollutants. One, the increased use of synthetic building materials, and two, the use of low-energy construction techniques that make proper ventilation difficult. Fatigue management strategies
The result is that workers are constantly exposed to pollutants, which leads to various health effects, such as fatigue.
Combating Workplace Fatigue
One of the main causes of fatigue is lack of sleep. So it goes without saying that getting enough sleep is the easiest way to combat workplace fatigue.
Encourage employees to establish healthy bedtime rituals that improve the quality and quantity of sleep. These include:
- Putting the phone aside – research has shown that light emitted by phones and similar electronic devices makes it harder to fall asleep
- Drink more water and less caffeine – Caffeinated beverages also reduce sleep quality.
- Do a relaxing activity such as meditating or reading.
Adopt a Fatigue Risk Management System
One of the most effective solutions to combat fatigue in the workplace is to implement a fatigue risk management system (FMRS).
In summary, the elements that must be included in the FMRS system are:
- Establish a fatigue management policy – this should include limiting the number of hours employees can work. Fatigue management strategies
- Collect data on fatigue as a workplace hazard, analyzing its risk and instigating measures to reduce it
- Investigation of fatigue-related incidents
- Fatigue management training and mobilization for employees and their families
- Create an audit process that provides corrective action through a continuous improvement process
To combat fatigue from long working hours, employers should give their employees enough time to rest or even take brief naps.
In fact, they should design their workplaces so that employees can easily relax during breaks. This can be achieved by incorporating recreation rooms and pantries where workers can eat and drink during their breaks.
If a group of employees has to work through the night, there should be areas where they can take occasional naps.
improve indoor air
Sometimes it’s enough to improve the factors in your work environment to reduce the risk of fatigue. As identified earlier, one of the most likely work-related causes is indoor air pollution. The EPA recommends the following strategies for improving indoor air quality:
- Implement a smoking policy to protect non-smokers from the side effects of smoking
- Cultivate a good working relationship with those responsible for internal environmental issues
- Prohibiting the use of products that can increase indoor air pollutants
- Work with building management to prevent the use of pest control methods that cause air pollution
- Advocating for the establishment of a preventive indoor air quality management program
While this may seem counterintuitive, a recent study has proven that exercise can help reduce fatigue in the workplace. Roger Adams, who is a fitness expert, explains that leading a sedentary lifestyle leads to low energy production, which is why you feel tired and tired all the time.
When you exercise, you cause your body to increase energy production, which in turn keeps you vital throughout the day. Fatigue management strategies
Fatigue is a common complaint among individuals who work for long periods. Studies have shown that more people are sleeping less – a factor that leads to increased exhaustion.
Other likely causes of fatigue, as identified by the National Safety Council, are inadequate working hours and increased air pollution.
Fortunately, there are some things employers and employees can do to combat burnout in the workplace. This includes implementing a fatigue risk management system, improving indoor air quality, establishing regular breaks and getting enough sleep. All of these measures should be part of a company’s wellness program to create alert, happy, and productive employees.