For the past couple of days we've looked at how fatigue impacts your workforce (poor concentration, slower reaction times, increased error rates and a number of health issues) and specifically how these impact your business. Now it's time to look at the causes and management of fatigue. 

Fatigue management is not purely a workplace issue. Many aspects of an employee’s lifestyle and social choices will impact their resilience to fatigue. Assisting employees with fatigue management can not only improve morale and job engagement, but also overall health and safety – reducing workforce costs from many angles. 

Work and lifestyle behaviours known to contribute to fatigue include:

  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor nutrition
  • Dehydration
  • High alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to vibration or noise
  • Long work hours/insufficient breaks
  • Shift work (including rotating shifts)
  • Repetitive or monotonous tasks
  • High mental or physical demand tasks 

A healthy and resilient lifestyle which includes adequate down time and healthy sleep, paired with a sensible work schedule, is the optimal way to combat fatigue.
Here are a number of behaviours and lifestyle factors which are known to reduce fatigue:

  • 6-8 hours of restful sleep per day
  • Maintaining regular sleep times
  • Optimal hydration
  • Regular light meals and snacks
  • Including high quality carbohydrates in the diet and consuming less sugar
  • Avoiding excess consumption of alcohol or stimulants
  • Participating in regular physical activity 

Remember: you're only as strong as your weakest link. 

Fatigue can have an impact on almost any business. The good news is, you can be proactive and reduce fatigue risks for your employees. The problem is, fatigue is multidimensional and personal. It can impact individuals differently, and even the same individual differently under varying circumstances. It’s also common for employees to mis-understand symptoms and wrongly perceive fatigue as boredom, stress, or mild physical illness.

Although organisational policy and work scheduling can significantly reduce some of the risk factors associated with fatigue, effective individual education can significantly improve the effectiveness of workplace fatigue management. Assisting individuals to recognise, understand, and counteract the symptoms of fatigue or aspects of their personal lifestyle which can exacerbate fatigue is highly productive.

Resilient lifestyles help build more resilient employees. Employees who are more healthy and active tend to have higher energy and endurance, as well as better sleep and recovery. This not only reduces the likelihood of fatigue and other illnesses, it also ensures that when employees do become fatigued they are more effectively equipped to rebound quickly.  

As an organisation you can take control by implementing work scheduling policies, group level education and creating a supportive culture (no "suck it up" attitude). Individuals can take control when educated in symptom recognition, lifestyle behaviour changes and health improvements are implemented and creating personal action plans to avoid fatigue or minimise it when it does occur. 

Health by Design are experts at designing and implementing science driven behaviour change programs. Health by Design tailors programs to holistically address their clients greatest needs and risks, including employee health, safety and injury risks, or, stress and fatigue management. Clients frequently achieve reductions in their injury rates and severity, as well as improved employee health, productivity, and job engagement.

Contact us today to discuss options for your workplace.