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How To Manage Employee Stress and Fatigue

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How To Manage Employee Stress and Fatigue

If your employees are stressed or fatigued this can lead to a decline in productivity and workplace accidents. Both can be highly damaging to a company’s profitability. A study of four US corporations a few years ago, conducted by Dr Mark Rosekind, an internationally known fatigue management expert, and his colleagues showed this clearly. Fatigue-related losses cost the company about $2,000 per employee every year. Managing stress and fatigue is good for employers because it maintains productivity and of course it’s good for staff wellbeing.

Risk Management for Fatigue and Stress

Formulating a strategy so you can help your staff and deal with stress and fatigue levels in your workforce is an important step to protect productivity and your employees’ health. A Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) involves structured coordination between management, your HR department and your staff. The goal is to establish best practices that will eliminate workplace accidents and prevent dips in productivity. An FRMS entails reviewing ways of working that may cause increased workplace stress and fatigue. It will explore fatigue in different departments in your business and the consequences for each, as well as the losses to the company. It will be directed towards finding solutions that will address and reduce fatigue and stress among your staff.

Anxiety and stress is rife in today’s world. A study conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimated that up to 79% of people suffer on a daily basis. There’s probably no such thing as a stress-free workplace, but staff can become overwhelmed when their schedule is too tight and they’re expected to do too much. As well as damaging productivity it can undermine the dynamics and rhythms that keep work going forward optimally.

Strategies for Managing Workplace Stress and Fatigue

There are various things you can do to address the problems. They include:

  • Training for management: If managers are aware of the effects of excessive stress and fatigue then they are well-placed to prevent it.
  • Communication with staff: Employees should be clearly instructed on their responsibilities and know what is expected of them. It’s also important that staff have a voice and a forum in which they can voice their opinions and make suggestions about how stress and fatigue can be reduced.
  • Primary prevention: Staff who are overloaded with work and constantly battling to meet unrealistic deadlines will be stressed and tired. Processes should be clear, documented and regularly updated so that this does not occur.
  • Scheduling options: Your business depends on hiring and retaining the best talent. Understand that they have lives outside of work, including the demands of family, community and commuting.

Flexible scheduling or alternative work patterns can help. Some employees will benefit from four ten-hour shifts instead of a five day week. Flexible scheduling allows staff to manage work and personal responsibilities and can help them to get well-earned rest when they need it.

The Benefits of Alternative Scheduling

What’s good for your staff can be beneficial for your business. With alternative scheduling there are other bonuses, such as:

  • Extended service hours: Especially if you work across different time zones, having staff who work longer shifts means you can be open at times that suit your clients in other zones or countries.
  • More effective use of your infrastructure: A longer working day (but shorter week) can relieve demand on infrastructure (such as machines or computers), that staff might have to queue to use in a normal working day.
  • Cross-training employees: If your employees are on different work schedules others may sometimes have to step in to cover for them. This provides opportunities for staff to learn new skills and contribute more to your business.
  • Limiting absenteeism: More flexible working hours or schedules that are better suited to your employees’ life circumstances will boost morale and aid productivity. Additional aids include remote access, among other measures that free them from the tyranny of clocking in.

It’s the responsibility of individuals to ensure they get enough rest and take steps to manage normal stress, but employers need to ensure they are not contributing to that stress and fatigue. Giving staff options is the way to go to keep them energized and productive.

What are your views? Could your company implement measures like these to assist staff?

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