Managing Employee Stress and Fatigue

thumb_475699d297afae315ef802312426354eStudies have shown that fatigue-related productivity losses and workplace accidents can be extremely detrimental to a company’s production, and ultimately, its bottom line. In fact, a 2010 study done by internationally-renowned fatigue management expert Dr. Mark Rosekind and his colleagues found that fatigue-related losses at four U.S. corporations they surveyed totaled about $2,000 per employee annually. There are some options open to an employer to make certain that he or she gets the highest level of productivity from his or her employees.

Stress and Fatigue Risk Management
Stress and fatigue are adversaries of production. Creating a comprehensive solution to assist employees with the pitfalls that stress and fatigue present is a solid practice that will not be lost on your staff or your company’s bottom line.

A Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) is a structured and documented coordination between your company’s management, human resources department, and staff to find the best practices to limit workplace accidents and help remedy the drop in productivity that goes hand-in-hand with employee stress and fatigue. A FRMS allows a company to review business practices that may increase workplace stress and fatigue risk, inspect potential consequences of fatigue on particular departments within your workplace, calculate fatigue-related losses, and provide solutions to alleviate employee fatigue.

An Anxiety and Depression Association of America study revealed that up to 79% of people suffer from daily stress and anxiety. Some workplace stress is unavoidable, but when a worker’s schedule is stretched too thin or they are expected to accomplish more than they can handle, they run the risk of getting overwhelmed by stress. These stress-induced distractions can hinder productivity as well as destroy a work dynamic that keeps employees on task and working at a high level. Some options to help subjugate office stress and fatigue include:

Provide Management Training: Emphasizing awareness of the causes and consequences that excessive stress and fatigue can present is a good starting point for employers.
Improve Employee Communication: Clearly defining an employee’s responsibilities, implementing clear expectations and giving employees a forum to contribute their opinions and ideas are good ways to reduce the strain that is felt by members of your workforce.
Primary Prevention: Employees that are weighed down with too much work, unrealistic deadlines, or enigmatic workflows in which to follow can cause a lot of stress. Making sure all processes are documented, concise, and up to date allows employees to have straightforward resources to refer to.
Alternative Scheduling
Recruiting and retaining the best talent is often difficult. Your employees face the demands of family, school, community, and long, costly commutes. Offering scheduling options, such as something as simple as a schedule of four ten-hour shifts, can make it easier for employees to meet the demands of both their work and personal responsibilities; allowing them time to rest and limit fatigue that would normally jeopardize their production. There are other benefits as well. They include:

Extended Service Hours: Compressing your employees’ work schedules into 4 days can be a good way to keep your business relevant, especially if you have clients that operate in different time zones.
Expand Use of Existing Infrastructure: Scheduling compressed workday schedules can allow you to open up integral high-demand infrastructure (machines, computers, etc.) that normally would have a great deal of competition for use in the course of a standard workday.
Improve Employee Knowledge: Employees that cover for co-workers that are on different work schedules are given the opportunity to learn new skills. Cross-training allows employees to become more useful in peak business times or when co-workers aren’t able to come to work (illness, vacation, leave, etc.).
Reduce Tardiness and Absenteeism: Alternative scheduling helps boost employee morale and gives employees incentive to maximize their production while they’re at work. Flexible work schedules, including ones that offer employees remote access, can improve employee engagement and commitment to your company by allowing them freedom from the static tyranny of the time clock.

Ultimately, it’s an individual’s responsibility to get enough rest to avoid fatigue, and to manage their own stress levels. By offering your employees options that can help them deal with stress and fatigue you create a solution to keep them as energized and productive as possible.

It’s certainly an interesting concept. What do you think; is this something your business could adopt?

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