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The Fight Against Employee Fatigue

What’s causing reduced cognitive performance among 69% of the American workforce, according to a National Safety Council (NSC) survey?
Employee fatigue.

The number of American workers who experience workplace fatigue outnumbers those who don’t. Unprecedented external circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic put employees at greater risk of becoming fatigued. Effects of employee fatigue lead to decreased morale and productivity. It’s time to take note.

We’ve pulled together some tips from the United States Department of Labor  on combating employee fatigue. 

Examine staffing. A lot of factors can lead to employee fatigue: workload, work hours, understaffing, and lack of resources. By taking notice of these factors, employers can ensure their employees are maintaining a schedule and responsibilities that are manageable. Keeping lines of communication open allow employees to speak up when their workload or schedule has become too much. 

Provide worker training and education. It is easier to spot the signs of employee fatigue when employees/employers know what to look for. All-staff training about workplace fatigue can equip organizations to recognize the warning signs and know when to seek support. As the saying goes, it is better to be proactive rather than reactive. If employees understand the effects fatigue can have on their work performance, relationships, and health, they will be more willing to listen. Signs of employee fatigue can include lack of motivation, irritability, weariness, and reduced alertness.  

Prioritize rest. Employee fatigue comes from heavy workloads and experiencing high levels of stress for long periods of time. When rest becomes a priority for employers and employees, workplace fatigue will lessen. Rest is necessary for employees to produce their best work while feeling their best mentally and physically. To ensure solid resting periods, avoid or limit taking on activities that are mentally or physically straining. It is recommended to rest for seven to nine hours each night to give the brain time to recharge and absorb new information. 

Check-in. Our teams in organizations across the country are experiencing an entirely new workforce. Employees are experiencing new hardships and a plethora of emotions. Check-ins with employees help create a safe environment where they feel comfortable voicing their concerns. Building a trusting relationship at work is crucial to maintaining health among everyone in the organization.  Our employees need to hear that leaders care about them as humans, beyond what they bring to work.

As Jennifer Moss explains in her Harvard Business Review article, “If you authentically want to demonstrate empathy, you have to ‘Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.’ That requires stepping outside of your own needs, assessing and removing bias and privilege, actively listening to your people, and then taking action.” Now is the time for empathetic leadership and ensuring we prioritize employee health and well-being.

Employee fatigue is a pressing issue across the nation, and it is treatable. Both employers and employees can improve their physical and mental well-being in the workplace by acknowledging and prioritizing the importance of rest, reimagination, and care for our human condition. 


Published on: October 21, 2020