Fatigued individuals are a risk to your company. Even those working from home can suffer. Fatigued employees are less productive, less focused, have more medical problems, are absent more often, and are more likely to be involved in a job-related safety incident. Read on for fatigue management ideas that can be relatively easy and inexpensive to implement.
Note, under normal (non-pandemic) circumstances, less workplace adjustment may be needed to combat employee fatigue. However, managing a business and employees during a pandemic will likely require more robust, customized solutions for your employees.
Ideas for Managing Employee Fatigue
While there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution for managing workplace fatigue, here are some ideas to consider.
- Install proper lighting, designate quiet break areas, and offer healthy food options in break rooms.
- Adjust policies to allow for more frequent and restful breaks.
- When possible, avoid scheduling staff for shifts longer than 12 hours.
- Use machinery and equipment that eliminates or reduces any excessive physical demands of your employees. This can include ergonomic furniture and antifatigue matting.
- Ask employees what time(s) of the day they are most tired, and think of ways to address those times, e.g., offering a short extra break, providing a healthy snack option, or allowing them to listen to music. This is especially important for employees who work in safety-sensitive jobs where fatigue is a major hazard.
- Provide employees with information and resources to help manage fatigue, reduce stress, and stay healthy (see the following section in this article). Additional resources:
Encourage Healthy Habits Among Employees
Share the following ideas with your employees to help encourage a healthy lifestyle that can help combat the effects of stress and workplace fatigue.
- Get a good night’s rest. Healthy Sleep Tips
- Take a nap when you have the opportunity.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Stay physically active.
- Keep an eye on each other. Watch for signs of fatigue among team members, and say something if you notice someone could use a break (watch for yawning, troubles concentrating, or difficulties keeping eyes open). Encouraging each other to take breaks when needed can help prevent fatigue-related mistakes and accidents in the workplace.
Adjust Workloads and Job Descriptions
Look at your individual job descriptions and workloads to identify reasons why a certain person or department may be struggling with fatigue. If you see that a job description is unbalanced or has had excessive responsibilities added, consider the following:
- Redesign the job to include a variety of mental and physical tasks instead of all physical or all mental.
- Eliminate any excessive demands, either by deeming them unnecessary or sharing those responsibilities with another employee.
- Introduce job rotation to limit both mental and physical boredom and fatigue.
Fatigue Among Your Shift Workers
It is difficult to adjust to shift work, and the unconventional schedule takes a toll on your workers. Research shows that people who sleep during the day have lower quality sleep, and they often struggle to get an adequate amount of sleep. Plus, workers on a night shift schedule tend to have poor eating habits and lack regular exercise, which can also contribute to sleep problems, fatigue, and stress.
Help your employees live healthier lives and get better sleep with these tips:
- Educate your employees on the importance of enough sleep, nutritious eating, and regular exercise. Good eating and exercise habits will help them sleep better and have more energy while they are awake.
- Encourage employees to see a doctor if they struggle with sleep or think they have a sleep-related disorder or health complication.
- Provide adequate breaks and healthy food options during each shift. If employees are feeling drowsy, recommend a healthy snack or a short brisk walk to re-energize.
- Enforce strict safety procedures, including monitoring for drowsiness in safety-sensitive positions.
- Ensure reasonable shift length and frequency. Implement sensible overtime procedures so employees are not overwhelmed with their schedule.
- Use care when rotating shift schedules. Rotating schedules can be beneficial, allowing employees to also work daytime shifts. However, rotating shifts too frequently does more harm than good because the body doesn’t have time to adjust—making sleep, fatigue, and health problems even worse.