Fatigue is probably the greatest killer of our time – not lives (well not directly) but productivity. Britons work the longest hours in Europe yet (and by the government’s own admission) we lag the rest of the developed world in almost all productivity measures.
Part of the reason is the rapidly diminishing amount of sleep we are getting. We are now well aware that we should eat ‘5-a-day’, exercise for 30 minutes each day and give up smoking but so many people still believe they can achieve more by sacrificing sleep.
Coupled with longer working hours there are now even more ways to entertain ourselves or work into the early hours – the inevitable result is we are sleeping less. A poll by GMTV in 2006 showed that only 19% of Brits sleep for the recommended 8 hours and in the South East an alarming 42% of people sleep for less than 5 hours a night. winston cigarettes types
Sleeping less than 6 hours can seriously inhibit performance and sleeping 4 or 5 hours a night impairs our performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1% (the UK drink drive limit is 0.08%). We are revered when we work long hours but kick-starting the day with a couple of pints of beer would most likely lead to dismissal, yet the result is effectively the same.
As a result, we all waste 151 minutes every day in presenteeism. Cranfield Management School also discovered that companies waste up to 520 hours per employee per annum failing to manage their energy correctly. Both studies reveal the acute loss of productivity due to fatigue.
Stress is a common companion of fatigue, and also common in Britain. One in three people are so wound up by their jobs that they cannot sleep properly, five million are extremely stressed by their work and half a million people say work-related stress made them physically sick. When we are fatigued our responsibilities seem more overwhelming and stressful, and stress in and of itself exhausts both the mind and body. This often leads to a downward spiral of exhaustion, contributing to negative health consequences such obesity and diabetes.
Too many people do not fully understand the effects of fatigue and the solutions to avoiding it.
Organisations can reduce fatigue levels in their workforce by implementing a few simple measures: first, understanding levels of fatigue through assessments; second, providing basic training on fatigue prevention; and third, encouraging the use of mid-day rest through controlled napping- the 21st century equivalent being only 15 to 20 minutes. As Winston Churchill remarked “You get two days in one.”
Marcus de Guingand is the Managing Director of Third Pillar of Health
Third Pillar of Health is a leading Fatigue Management Solutions provider to the public and private sectors. We offer a range of products and services from assessment, training, online learning to interactive workshops all of which are designed to help your people beat fatigue and perform at their best all day every day.
Fatigue is the greatest killer of productivity of modern times and workforce fatigue is endemic in the developed world.