8 Early Warning Signs of Employee Fatigue to Watch Out for



Male employee frustrated at work

Fatigue is, perhaps, the deadliest enemy of productivity.

After all, tired employees will not be able to give a hundred percent to anything they do no matter how hard you push and motivate them.

They’re exhausted. Chillingly, work-related musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs are frequently cited causes for employee fatigue and lost work time.

In fact, MSDs were identified as priority disorders in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 (the Australian Strategy), that was developed through consultation with governments, industry, unions, as well as the public. To address this issue, more and more organisations are integrating ergonomics into their workplace operations with the help of quality ergonomic products that aim to reduce employee fatigue.

Ergonomics refers to the management of in-office layouts, setups, and equipment in a way that mitigates fatigue to a more or less manageable and effective degree.

So how does ergonomics help a company and its employees?

  • It reduces costs. Costly MSDs can be prevented which means an opportunity for significant cost savings.
  • It improves quality. Employees with physically taxing jobs may perform better which relieves frustration and fatigue they feel when they’re not able to do a good job.
  • It improves productivity. Employees are more efficient if their jobs allow them to have good posture, better heights and reaches, and fewer exertion or forceful motions.
  • It creates a better safety culture. Ergonomics means that a company considers safety and health as core values and therefore lead to better performance for everyone.
  • It improves employee engagement. Knowing that their company cares for their health and safety boosts employee morale and increase their involvement.

Now that you know what wonders ergonomic solutions can do, take a moment to observe your workplace. Does anyone in your team seem exhausted?

It’s best to take a look at these early warning signs that your employees could be experiencing work-related fatigue:

1. Their productivity goes down

Male employee sleeping on his laptop at the office.

Photo Courtesy from: Flickr Image by Jordan Fischer

While they seem to be working longer hours, employees experiencing fatigue tend to be less and less productive over time.

Did you know that Australians work longer hours than all other OECD nations and generally do not use their full annual leave entitlement? And that this could lead to work-related fatigue, injury, and illnesses that may cost the Australian economy a lot?

If you notice that your employees’ productivity has hit an all time low, then there’s definitely something wrong going on with them.

2. They fidget a lot

Male employee lying down and listening to music while at work

Photo Courtesy from: Flickr Image by Simon Law

People tend to tolerate some level of discomfort at their workplace. After all, they have a job to do and aren’t really going to start making irrational demands about their workplace conditions.

You’ll notice though if they start to fidget on their workstations and are clearly uncomfortable; perhaps always trying to get away from their desks, or doing something else that’s not related to work.

It’s one early sign that something is starting to get to them. Although this happens at a pretty early stage so a lot can still be done to deal with the fatigue and stress they are going through.

3. Their minds are anywhere but here

Worried male employee at work

Photo Courtesy from: Flickr Image by Allan Rotgers

Everyone experiences forgetfulness at some point but employees with fatigue may suffer from ongoing forgetfulness and complete disregard for their work and their team at large.

This will not only affect their performance, it can also waste other employees’ time. It’s an obvious sign that the employee has a lot on his plate and is struggling to get on top of their workload so it is best to find out what’s causing this behavior.

4. They are moody

Male employee seriously looking at his computer

Photo Courtesy from: Pexels Image by David McEachan

Closely observe employees who seem not to be their usual selves and are acting out of character. Moodiness, emotional distress, or having a bad attitude in the workplace are telling signs that something is wrong.

5. They complain about everything

Four male colleagues working together

Photo Courtesy from: Flickr Image by Florent Darrault

People headed towards fatigue aren’t going to keep it in. Whether it’s straight out complaining about it with their friends during lunch breaks or even just a long drawn out sigh of relief when they get up for a stretch, these are the most obvious clues that fatigue might be just about to set in.

Of course, it’s never a safe thing to assume. So, an effective next step would be to talk about it, or at least to encourage sharing. You’ll be surprised how much more smoothly this conversation will actually go. When it concerns comfort, no one is ever too shy.

6. Their workspace is a mess

Messy desk with two computers

Photo Courtesy from: Flickr Image by Mark Jensen

Always pay attention to your employees’ workstations and desks. A messy desk can be a sign of stress that may have been caused by overwork.

7. They’re always late

Male employee sleeping inside the office

Photo Courtesy from: Flickr Image by Nathan

There are employees who are habitual latecomers – those who run late in every aspect of their lives. But once you notice someone in your team, who usually comes on-time, if not an hour early, to work every morning, arrive late for consecutive days or weeks, then that is a clear indicator of fatigue or poor work-life balance.

8. …or absent

Vacant chair at the office

Photo Courtesy from: Flickr Image by George Grinsted

Employees experiencing fatigue will always find ways to justify not getting out of bed in the morning. When you start to notice an alarming increase in your employees’ absences, then maybe it’s about time to ask if work-related fatigue has taken over people in your office.

Again, talking to employees involved is critical, but it’s also important to do something about those factors making it hard for them to perform their duties efficiently.

You can also actually walk in their shoes and try out their job for a day yourself. If you find that you hate it and everything is, in fact, uncomfortable to use, safe bet is that therein lies the problem – one that needs an ergonomic solution.

At Alsco, we have several ideas that can be simple, subtle, and passive solutions against employee fatigue.

Foremost among these are the Anti-Fatigue Mats that can be placed in strategic areas around the office and work areas. These are guaranteed to provide comfort as your employees move about their workplace.

On top of that comfort, they also maximise safety and convenience as your employees go about their day. Paired with truly comfortable equipment, they can nip fatigue right in the bud.

So give us a call today. We’ve been number one in Australia’s commercial scene for over 50 years. We know what you need and will be happy to work with you.

Photo Courtesy from: Wikimedia Image by LaurMG



Disclaimer – These articles are provided to supply general health, safety, and green information to people responsible for the same in their organisation. The articles are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs.