Research from Westfield Health has found that almost half of employees regularly turn up to work too tired to function effectively; it goes on to state that despite this, 86% feel that they are not able to openly communicate with their manager about how their tiredness is affecting their performance.
34% of survey respondents said that their mental well-being has suffered because of their tiredness; 55% stated that their fatigue extends beyond the office and affects their home life too.
37% state that tiredness has made them forgetful at work, 30% said it has made them short tempered with colleagues. Worryingly, 22% have found themselves actively drifting off to sleep at work and 13% have drifted off while driving. Even more seriously, 30% have had an accident, made a serious mistake or felt extremely stressed at work due to fatigue.
Currently 86% of employees feel that their employers or managers do not recognise the negative impacts and dangers of fatigue. Furthermore, only 9% believe that their employer would find fatigue a valid reason to call in sick.
Director of Well-being at Westfield Health, Richard Holmes, states that “the importance of rest time both at work and home should be taken seriously and encouraged by employers, and fatigue should be considered just as important as any other physical illness or injury”.
So, what can be done?
Try to break your work schedule down into smaller chunks. This makes larger tasks seem less overwhelming and also allows you to use the Pomodoro Technique which can help you to stay focused and less stressed.
Make sure you get up to move around as much as possible throughout the day. This is good for keeping your mind alert and a gentle outdoor exercise such as a short walk during your break time is proven to have a positive impact on mental health.
Try to slowly cut down on sugar and carbs and swap caffeinated drinks for herbal teas or water. This should keep energy levels steady throughout the day rather than providing an artificial peak caused by sugar or caffeine which will result in an energy crash later in the day which is hard to recover from.
Make sure your work space is set up ergonomically. A good ergonomic chair and setting your monitor screen to the correct height, as well as the addition of a footrest are all great ways to keep your body free from aches, pains and strains. An ergonomically correct posture will also keep oxygen flow and circulation working correctly to help you to stay more alert and focused. Freedom from aches and pains means you will feel less tired and will help to fight off any added stress that the pain causes.
Try to get as much rest at home as possible. Develop a good night time routine with screen time ending at least an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Also, unless it is required by your employer, do not bring your work home and don’t read or respond to emails whilst out of the office.
Consider taking a long weekend if you have enough holiday time to use. Regular, shorter breaks can often be better than one extended summer holiday. Try to use this time to relax and unwind as much as possible and make sure that you do not spend the time checking up on work.
Finally, if you feel able to, talk to your manager or employer about how your fatigue is affecting you both personally and professionally. You may, for example, be able to reach a flexible working agreement to allow you some extra time to rest, or even just ask for the opportunity to start and finish earlier so that you don’t waste any more time than is necessary commuting.