MANAGING ALERTNESS AT WORK
Managing Occupational Alertness Makes Good Business Sense – Businesses can improve safety, harmony in the workplace as well as the bottom line by attending to employee alertness issues. Employees, managers and business leaders too increasingly make judgemental or memory related mistakes with the onset of fatigue. The chances of making a mistake only increase with tiredness and are exacerbated with any associated time zone travel affecting normal circadian rhythm.
If tired, an office worker may mail a client letter full of spelling mistakes which though mildly embarrassing, is not life threatening. However, an airline pilot landing the plane at the end of their duty comprising of a long flight across many time zones has to be alert enough to land the plane safely. Any mistake could compromise the safe landing and cost lives. An entrepreneur or business leader who works constant long hours without a break is increasingly unlikely to find all their decisions to be good ones. There are few real Masters of the Universe.
Occupations and Lifestyle
For some safety critical occupations such as airline pilots, air traffic control, nuclear energy or health workers, fatigued employees are a significant safety risk that may have devastating consequences should mistakes occur. For these occupations, best practise is to adopt a formal risk management system to enhance the wellbeing and performance of the employee, evaluate any regulatory compliance issues and highlight any liabilities that could expose the employer.
Of course, employers have no need to identify safety criticality alone before acting to manage fatigue issues. Any shift-worker or employee regularly working an extended day can be managed to minimise occupational fatigue, improve performance and enjoy a better work-life balance
Irritating Colleagues and Managers
Tired employees not only make mistakes that are expensive or impossible to rectify but also create disharmony within the workplace. Fatigue leads to irritability, tensions and low tolerance of normal day to day human interactions. Unless such hygiene issues are resolved, they may manifest themselves in high rates of absence, low morale, employee dissatisfaction and the costs associated with a high turnover of staff.
Improving the Bottom Line
Any shift worker is exposed to a degree of risk due to fatigue and organisations employing shift based labour arrangements or extended day operations (particularly roles in senior and middle management) may wish to examine the effects of fatigue on company culture and working environment, absenteeism and sickness, labour utilisation, costs of waste and rework as well as quality of decision making. Such industrial relations issues inevitably lead to inflexibility, high management costs, low labour productivity, missed profitable opportunities and overall lower company performance.
A company of tired, irritable employees is not a fun and stimulating place to work. A company with a tired set of short tempered executives is a dreadful place to waste a career. A company of tired employees and executives will be disharmonious, make lots of mistakes that compromise both safety and performance and eventually spend too much resource on internal issues. Reducing market and customer focus is a one way street to slipping down the performance league through inevitable loss of market share.
Consequently, the company can easily ossify and become inert – which is why:
Managing Occupational Alertness Makes Good Business Sense.