In my previous article I introduced the concept of professional fatigue along with the major causes of professional fatigue. But as it happens usually nobody likes to read about the causes of a disease without knowing its effects, the same applies here. It is very important to understand the effects or results of professional fatigue so as to generate the need for understanding the causes. Professional fatigue, as already explained, disturbs the normal working of an individual and reduces the productivity. When suffering from professional fatigue, a person loses sleep, remains restless, feels exhausted, shows mood swings, gets irritated soon and often loses anger on the peers, subordinates and sometimes on seniors too. However, these are only a few symptoms of professional fatigue; the effects last rather longer. Professional fatigue although occurs at individual level, if not taken care of it effects the organization as a whole. At the individual level, fatigue affects both performance as well as safety and ultimately emerges as a threat to organizational well-being.
Professional fatigue leads to lower employee engagement
Professional fatigue makes an individual lose his/her interest in the job. The motivation levels go down and the employees do not feel engaged to the job. They confine themselves to doing whatever is asked by the seniors and hardly make efforts to try anything new. The creativity comes to an end and the employees also do not feel the need to communicate or register feedback and grievances (Baldoni, 2013).
Lower performance and productivity
Employee engagement and productivity are very closely related. An employee who is not engaged cannot be expected to improve productivity. High performance and productivity ultimately follow high employee engagement. Engaged employees deliver better to the customers as well as the organization (Baldoni, 2013). This is the reason that companies today are focusing on employee engagement. But, fatigue hampers engagement to the job and lowers performance and productivity of the employees; also acting as a major cause of high employee turnover.
Increased absenteeism, accidents and injuries
Different studies have proved that fatigue has an impact on sleep (Rogers, n.d.). Fatigue leads to sleepiness and also in loss of sleep. Studies establish that both sleepiness and lack of sleep (impaired/shortened sleep) are major causes of accidents and injuries in factories (Philip and Akerstedt, 2006). As such fatigue enhances the need for workplace safety measures thereby adding to the organizational expenses.
Higher wastage and inefficiency
The physical, mental and emotional weaknesses caused by fatigue reduce the concentration of employees and increases wastage and inefficiency in the organization (Rogers, n.d.). The employees take more time and utilize more organizational resources to carry out various tasks. Also there are higher wastage during various processes. This would increase the cost per unit and reduces profitability.
Decision-making is at the base of organizational success or failure. While correct strategic decisions take organization to the peaks of success, wrong decision-making often proves fatal to the organization. If fatigue happens at the senior management levels in an organization, there are fair chances that management makes faulty decisions. Fatigue reduces concentration and lowers engagement to the job paving way for such serious strategic mistakes. The occurrence of wastage and inefficiency, accidents and injuries many times induce senior management to make decisions in hurry without proper analysis of the situation resulting into short-term oriented decisions.
Friction and workplace conflicts
All the above mentioned results of professional fatigue trigger workplace conflicts. Dissatisfaction from the job and lack of motivation resulting from fatigue, more incidences of accidents and injuries, lower performance and productivity, higher wastage and inefficiency, and faulty decision-making; all these factors tend to initiate blame game in the organization leading to friction among the employees (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2012) .
Professional fatigue is a serious threat to the individual as well as organization well-being and needs immediate attention from the HR managers. All the above results of professional fatigue seem to be inter-related and sequential as one paves way for the other. There exists a vicious circle of fatigue and its effects as shown in the above figure.
- Baldoni, J. (July, 4, 2013). “Employee Engagement Does More than Boost Productivity.” Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/07/employee-engagement-does-more/
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. (September 21, 2012). “Mental Health – Psychosocial Risk Factors in the Workplace.” Retrieved from: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/mentalhealth_risk.html
- Philip, P. and Akerstedt, T. (October, 2006). “Transport and industrial safety, how are they affected by sleepiness and sleep restriction?” Sleep Medicine Reviews, 10 (5). Pp. 347-356. Elsevier.
- Rogers, A. (n.d.). “Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses.” NCBI. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2645/#_ch40_s2_