In November 2013 a young intern working in the banking/financial services industry suffered an epileptic seizure – believed to be caused by overwork – and consequently died.
While it’s true that fatigue-related incidents in transportation and front-line industries such as mining, healthcare and aviation make the headlines, the first example above
– as extreme and isolated as it might appear
– demonstrates that white-collar jobs could
also benefit from a focus on fatigue management and more effective rostering and time and attendance management.
Fatigue management has wider benefits as part of an overall workforce management strategy. Aberdeen Group’s 2014 report, Bottom Line Reasons for a Total Workforce Management Strategy, highlighted why:
• 4% increases in revenue per FTE for those organizations with a workforce management solution
• 9% boost in workforce utilisation capacity
• 6% improvement in customer satisfaction scores
James Kissell, a senior manager at WorkForce Software, says that in any industry, regulated or not, fatigue can take a toll on business performance. There are strong parallels (and research) showing how working as a fatigued employee is akin to working under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In fact, being awake for 17 hours straight has been equated to having a blood alcohol content of .05.
Why it matters
The most significant impact is on productivity, worker safety and even employee satisfaction. WorkForce Software’s white paper, titled Examining the Hidden Costs of Fatigue: Risks & remedies for Australian businesses, provided these insights: “There is increased likelihood of errors amongst fatigued workers. When tired workers are faced with tasks that require alertness, mental acuity or decision-making (in short, most jobs), a
measurable decrease in accuracy and quality will result. Fatigued persons are slower at interpreting visual information than alert peers – a limitation that can have significant impacts on job performance.”
Fatigue can also lead to an increase in tolerating or undertaking risky behaviour.
Fatigued individuals frequently have a very different opinion of what’s ‘good enough’ compared to fresh, non-fatigued colleagues. Fatigued workers are prone to cutting corners, which can have a negative impact on everything from worker safety to the quality of your brand and its products and services.
Fixing the problem
Fortunately, there are solutions. The first essential step is preventing the work conditions that cause employee fatigue in the first place. A thorough review of all jobs and shifts within the organization will identify those functions that cause fatigue, require statutory rest periods, or are at
risk of fatigue-related incidents.
A step further is to provide an automated technology solution in order to better manage the three components that make up fatigue management:
Time and attendance: This is your master record of hours worked, spelling out who worked, on what task, and for how long. Having accurate
information about time worked is crucial to knowing which employees may be approaching the threshold of fatigue.
Fatigue factors: A configurable rules engine tracks the rules, regulations and policies that govern your organization’s fatigue mitigation strategy. This allows you to create a system that meets the unique needs of your business and allows managers to override alerts in certain circumstances. To be maximally effective, it must be able to consider different factors for specific jobs, in order to accurately reflect the distinct risk profile of a given shift and type of work.
Where to next?
Don’t wait until there’s an accident!
Business leaders should act now. Employers in Canada can kick their fatigue management systems to the next
• Monitoring employee productivity
• Focusing on the roster cycle
– An important part of the solution but not the whole solution
– Provides strong indications of when employees need resting
• Checking on absenteeism
• Implementing an IT-driven fatigue management policy
– IT solutions will automate processes, remove complexity, and give you greater coverage across the