Workplace Fatigue: Simple Hoax or Real Threat?
We all had days in which it’s barely 2 o’clock, lunch is barely over and you are absolutely exhausted. While this feeling is absolutely normal after lunch, what do you do when this feeling follows you all day, every day? Workplace tiredness doesn’t necessarily mean physical exhaustion but focuses more on the mental side of things.
This state does not appear solely due to low energy levels, but it also signals a clear lack of motivation. Due to this continuous state of fatigue, people can hardly concentrate and stay organised. If these circumstances keep on longer than a few weeks, in spite of enjoying adequate sleep and feelings of anxiousness and depression start to settle in more and more, then burnout is on its way.
There is no shame in feeling tired at work; there may be some stressful situation at home or simply you did not get enough sleep the night before, it happens. Nevertheless, when the relentless feeling of tiredness has set in for weeks on end then it is time for people to take action. This is your brain trying to tell you that something needs to change in what and how you do things. You might be overworked, stressed or generally unhappy with the state of affairs surrounding you.
Recent research has revealed that fatigue still ranks amongst the top symptoms for both anxiety and depression, with the added bonus of having a better understanding of why our bodies “ask” for more rest. Obviously, these fatigue periods start with a very stressful event that activates the “fight-or-flight” response in our bodies and we start releasing a lot of adrenaline, amongst other hormones. The hormones released in the body alter physiological traits such as heart rate, given the fact that cortisol levels are up whilst serotonin and dopamine are on the back foot. Studies show that there is a clear correlation between stress and neurogenesis (the process of creating neurons) in the hippocampus, which ultimately leads to numerous depression symptoms.
Given all these changes that are happening internally, the theory states that fatigue is simply a coping mechanism. When stress hormones are produced, they usually start the process of “circuit breaking” and simply block glucose intake by receptors in both the hippocampus and the amygdala. Even though this protects the brain from way too much excitement, it does make it incredibly harder to remain happy over longer periods of time and do everything you have planned.
Work fatigue – Slippery Slope towards Burnout
Ironically, the main issue here isn’t that these elements make people feel tired at work, but that they can become so aggravating that the road to burnout becomes shorter and shorter. Burnout can be explained like a constant state of fatigue combined with a deep sense of cynicism, lack of ambition and accomplishment.
A sudden burst in fatigue can mean that people require more time to decompress, rest, and enjoy life. That might mean that the manager may have to offer more resources, more flexible or slowed scheduling, informal get-togethers, or just being more approachable by all members of staff. More often than not, people assume that they’re tired for various other reasons, such as not exercising enough, drinking a bit too much on a night out, etc. They could also say nothing about their prolonged state of exhaustion due to existing stigma around mental health and the desire to look strong and in control.
Managers should also factor in the negative influence on productivity levels and decision making that fatigue can have. The worst thing management can do in this situation is to start pointing fingers and openly criticise people, before even trying to find out what is the source of the dip in productivity. However, this does not mean that accountability should be eradicated, but done after rigorous talks and one-on-one meetings. Some managers just assume that employees just do not want what is best for them in order to succeed. Everyone deserves a second chance to fix their mishaps and mistakes, while management should focus on eliminating stressors that usually come from operations and organisational culture.
One last thing that a manager should definitely take into account is that every person is unique, which makes the process of identifying stressors even more difficult. What is stressful for someone may be a cakewalk for someone else and vice versa. Thus, while it’s more than ok to set general goals and standards, managers should be interested in knowing each member of his or her team in order to fully understand what makes them tick and what makes them doubt themselves. Hard work must be put in to create a real and meaningful work relationship so that when employees have a stressful situation on their hands, they’ll be more than comfortable to share their experience and, it goes without saying, that friendship is one of the best stress relievers out there.
There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.
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