Reasons behind professional fatigue

Professional fatigue is common but one of the most severe human resource challenges today. Fatigue basically means physical or mental exhaustion that stops an individual from working normally (Queensland Government, 2013). In spite of chalking down the best HR policies, giving consideration to employees’ work-life balance, providing for holidays and recreation, organizing training and job rotation. The HR managers still face complaints about monotony and fatigue from employees at all levels. Such incidences are reported frequently when an individual feels frustrated, exhausted, lethargic, and pessimistic. The productivity of the employee reduces substantially from the original level. Besides the problems like lack of concentration and impaired memory, they pose a threat to organizational profitability and growth. These are some of the symptoms of professional fatigue which can prove devastating for the organization as a whole. Dissatisfaction from the job and unwillingness to contribute to the organization not only hamper the individual growth but also lead to workplace conflicts and organizational stagnation.

What leads to professional fatigue?

  • Regular stress and anxiety: Due to cut-throat competition in the marketplace, companies often set unrealistic performance targets for their employees leading to situations of stress and anxiety without really improving their productivity. Regular work pressure makes employees lose their interest in the job and negatively affects their efficiency resulting in professional fatigue.
  • No fixed time for breaks and exit: Gone are the days when companies followed fixed lunch break culture. Today employees are usually observed gulping their lunch, many times at their desks (The Muse, 2013). Hardly any company rigidly adheres to the time-out schedule. While time-in is noticed cautiously. Time-out is rarely followed with such caution. Long working hours are also a major cause of professional fatigue.
  • Anytime and anywhere working: Although many companies today are designing lucrative holiday packages for employees. Such holidays rarely give the much needed break to employees. This is because even during the holidays employees are required to be accessible to their seniors as well as subordinates through mobile phones and internet (The Muse, 2013). This is especially the case with employees at the middle and top management.
Cause of professional fatigue

Cause of professional fatigue


  • Unpredictable and frequent changes: Most of the companies today ask their employees to be prepared to accept any challenge. For any changes in their profile at anytime according to the requirement. Most of the times individuals are hired with a particular set of roles and responsibilities. But subsequently as per the needs of the organization, their profiles differ completely. However in such cases, the aptitude and willingness of the employees to accept new roles is not taken into consideration. And they are compelled to accept whatever they are offered. In a number of cases the employees are not even given requisite training for their new roles. Which adds up further to their discontentment. This causes change fatigue i.e. change is initiated but not implemented successfully in the organization (MHST 621 Group 3 Project, n.d.). Which eventually ends up resulting in professional fatigue.
  • Lack of fixed working schedule: Work-life balance has emerged as the latest HR buzz these days. Every organization is focusing on strategies to help employees manage their home along with the career. Virtual organizations offering work from home facility are getting increasingly popular today.Work from home facility is offered occasionally to full-time employees to help them maintain work-life continuum. But lack of fixed working schedule, irregular and unpredictable working hours, late night working, and working in shifts often results in disturbed sleep which is a major cause of professional fatigue (Queensland Government, 2013).
  • Workplace environment: Workplace environment is one of the most critical factors behind professional fatigue (Nyamache, n.d.). Workplace environment here refers to both the physical environment including ambiance, hygiene, exposure to lighting, heat, noise,  and hazardous chemicals. It also refers top to the organizational culture, policies, hierarchy, systems and procedures, opportunities for growth as well as provisions regarding penalties in case of failure to adhere to organizational rules and regulations. Negligence towards physical factors and ambiguity in the cultural factors gradually emerge as substantial professional fatigue causes.
  • Organizational politics: All politics in the organization is not bad but unhealthy workplace politics can be a major reason behind professional fatigue affecting negatively the employees’ interest in work (Charney, 2011). Workplace politics not only adds to the sufferings of the innocent in an organization but also deteriorate the entire working environment.


Ankita Agarwal

Analyst at Project Guru
Ankita is working with the editorial board of Project Guru as a Research Analyst and Writer. With Masters in Commerce and Business Studies, Ankita learned much of what she knows about management through experience. She has previously worked in various financial institutions like Birla Global, HDFC Ltd. and Citi Financial. She is self-motivated and writes for the Knowledge Tank section of Project Guru. She has authored more than 80 articles so far in Human Resources Management, Strategic Management, Finance and Marketing. She likes to pen her thoughts about the latest issues gripping these areas across the world.

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