Attention Please – Worker Fatigue

Sometimes I wonder why organizations couldn’t be more positive. Yes, I know we have so many problems with unemployment and global threats on our standard of living.  Yet, I wonder if managers really understand how they set the tone for their workers’ behavior.  Many times managers treat workers like mechanical parts rather than human capital assets.  They  assume that giving employees new technology is enough to keep them happy. It isn’t.

Workers are experiencing more physical setbacks due to the lack of effective leadership in some organizations. As a matter of fact, uncertainty and workforce stress become a staple of the current workforce as employees devote more time to their jobs out of necessity. In many organizations, conflict is a big factor for burnout.

The reality is that most workers are emotionally drained. As a matter of fact, 68% of workers report feeling burned out at the office, according to a CareerBuilder.com survey. Some of this job stress can be attributed to poor management and lack of clear vision.

Many short-term political appointees launch brand-new reforms with the turn of another political election; however, they are failing to pick up the pieces when they fail. US businesses cannot point to the lack of employee performance on a global front for mismanagement errors.

Japan, a long-time benchmark for American companies, is being defeated by American employees; today, the average USworker puts in 36 more hours than Japanese workers (1,825 vs. 1,789).  Over the last two decades, balancing work and home life has been difficult, since Americans have added 200 hours to their annual work schedule.

Employees want to be valued. Felix Harris, a financial director with over 8 years in the banking industry, acknowledges the importance of people in a socio-technical system. He states, “When employees are appreciated, they work harder. A machine is only as good as its operator.”

Jeffery Pfeffer, author of The Human Equation, acknowledges that organizational success is directly related to implementation, and this capacity comes from the workers, how they are treated, their skills, and their effort as it relates to the organization.  Therefore, organizations need to be aware of worker fatigue.

What can organizations do to deal with worker fatigue?

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green


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6 thoughts on “Attention Please – Worker Fatigue

  1. Employers need to be more flexible. As more families require both parents to work and more parents are becoming single parent households there has to be more flexibility. In addition, with workers working more and more and increased technology making it harder to “get away” burnout is on the rise.

    Little things like extra personal time or the ability to work from home goes a long way. Even in current economic times companies must remember employees are human.

  2. In 1924, Elton Mayo, at the Wharton School, reported that “the single, most important factor which determines productive efficiency is the mental preoccupation of the worker as he works.” Mayo concluded from a study of textile workers that the physical causes of fatigue were greatly exacerbated by these “monotonously and uniformly pessimistic” thought patterns. He prescribed several short rest breaks per shift, both to relieve physiological strain and to disrupt the deleterious reveries.(Mayo,E. 1924) Although his notion of the dynamics of fatigue departed from that of the physiologists, Mayo’s course of corrective action was obviously appropriated from them. Before it spun off into many other areas of inquiry, the Hawthorne study devoted considerable attention to the fatigue question and tackled it largely by introducing rest breaks. (Henderson,L.J., Mayo,E.,1933)

    Elton Mayo, “Revery and Industrial Fatigue,” Journal of Personnel Research 3 (Dec. 1924): 273 (quotation), 273-81; Robinson, “Factors Affecting Human Efficiency,” 95, 98.
    L. J. Henderson and Elton Mayo, “The Effects of Social Environment,” Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology 18 (Sept. 1936): 401-16, especially 402; Elton Mayo, The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization (New York, 1933); Richard Gillespie, Manufacturing Knowledge: A History of the Hawthorne Experiments (New York, 1991), 65-75.

  3. Worker fatigue has become a real issue and the main reason for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to be on the front headlines of the news and news papers with the recent crashes due to their pilots fallen asleep (Feb. 3, 2011)as a great example.

    Just as President Obama had signed the “H.R. 5900”, it would be a great thing for the risk management team to develop and implement of their own “Fatigue Risk Management Plan” that best suits their companies needs.

    References:
    • H.R. 5900: Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 . (2010, July 3). In GovTrack.us . Retrieved May 6, 2011, from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-5900
    • Day, M. (2011, February 3). Pilot falls asleep in cockpit as co-pilot goes to the loo . In The Telegragh. Retrieved May 6, 2011, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/8301186/Pilot-falls-asleep-in-cockpit-as-co-pilot-goes-to-the-loo.html
    • Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) . (2011). In Circadian. Retrieved May 6, 2011, from http://www.circadian.com/pages/130_fatigue_risk_management_systems_frms_.cfm

  4. Worker fatigue has become a real issue and the main reason for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to be on the front headlines of the news and newspapers with the recent crashes due to their pilots fallen asleep (Feb. 3, 2011)as a great example.

    Just as President Obama had signed the “H.R. 5900”, it would be a great thing for the risk management team to develop and implement of their own “Fatigue Risk Management Plan” that best suits their company’s needs.

    References:
    • H.R. 5900: Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 . (2010, July 3). In GovTrack.us . Retrieved May 6, 2011, from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-5900
    • Day, M. (2011, February 3). Pilot falls asleep in cockpit as co-pilot goes to the loo . In The Telegragh. Retrieved May 6, 2011, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/8301186/Pilot-falls-asleep-in-cockpit-as-co-pilot-goes-to-the-loo.html
    • Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) . (2011). In Circadian. Retrieved May 6, 2011, from http://www.circadian.com/pages/130_fatigue_risk_management_systems_frms_.cfm

  5. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. workers experience fatigue, a problem that carries billions of dollars in costs from lost productivity, according to a study in the January Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). Long hours and stressful efforts in continuous rhythm aren’t necessarily the solution for great performance at work. Targeting a specific goal in a reasonable time and environment are some keys for relaxation and good energy for a good work pattern. Organizations should focus as much in the input than the output. stress breaking factors, bonuses, appreciations and encouragement.
    Improve communication
    Share information with employees to reduce uncertainty about their jobs and futures.
    Clearly define employees’ roles and responsibilities.
    Make communication friendly and efficient, not mean-spirited or petty.
    Consult your employees
    Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions that affect their jobs.
    Consult employees about scheduling and work rules.
    Be sure the workload is suitable to employees’ abilities and resources; avoid unrealistic deadlines.
    Show that individual workers are valued.
    Offer rewards and incentives.
    Praise good work performance, both verbally and officially, through schemes such as Employee of the Month.
    Provide opportunities for career development.
    Promote an “entrepreneurial” work climate that gives employees more control over their work.
    Cultivate a friendly social climate
    Provide opportunities for social interaction among employees.
    Establish a zero-tolerance policy for harassment.
    Make management actions consistent with organizational values.

    REFERENCES :
    Fatigue In The Workplace Is Common And Costly
    Main Category: Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia
    Also Included In: Public Health
    Article Date: 15 Jan 2007 – 0:00 PDT

    HELPGUIDE.ORG.

    Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal, M.A. Last updated: June 2011

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