OTTAWA – Lack of sleep and poor-quality sleep have consequences not only for workplace safety but also for the general wellness, performance and productivity of employees across industries and professions. A new Conference Board of Canada survey finds that 27 per cent of Canadian workers report being fatigued most days or every day during a typical work week.
“The harmful effects of fatigue are numerous, and in some cases, comparable to the effects of alcohol,” saidMary-Lou MacDonald, Director, Workplace Health, Wellness and Safety Research, The Conference Board ofCanada. “Employers that proactively address their employees’ fatigue will have a more productive workforce and a safer working environment.”
- 27 per cent of workers surveyed report being fatigued most days or every day during a typical work week.
- When asked about their work productivity on days they were tired, 42 per cent of employees reported that their productivity and performance were somewhat or significantly worse.
- Stress and job demands are among the single biggest factors contributing to Canadian employees’ lack of sleep.
Based on findings from a national survey of 739 full-time or part-time employed Canadians, the report, Running on Empty: Understanding Fatigue in the Workplace, documents the prevalence of fatigue in the Canadian workforce. It shows that fatigue has consequences for the way employees think, react and display emotions at work.
Employees surveyed recognized that being fatigued affects their performance and productivity. More than 40 per cent of those surveyed reported that their productivity and performance were somewhat or significantly worse when they did not get enough rest.
Previous research has suggested that tired employees also have an impact on interpersonal interactions at work, as lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep affects the body’s ability to recharge and the ability to self-control. Without proper sleep, supervisors may be less respectful or civil to their staff and people working in customer service may find it harder to deal with difficult customers.
Main cause of fatigue
Work stress and job demands topped the list as the main cause of fatigue. Of the employees surveyed, 28 per cent identified it as one of the biggest factors contributing to their lack of sleep. Other leading factors included stress from home demands (26 per cent), physical health problems (9 per cent). Poor sleeping habits, such as caffeine before bed or too much screen time, also contributed to lack of sleep.
Employees with children under the age of 18 were more likely to cite being tired or not having enough rest, compared with their counterparts who did not have children living at home. Almost one-quarter (22 per cent) of those with children indicated that they were tired every day, compared with only 12 per cent of those without children. Women also reported being more tired at work than men. Compared with 29 per cent of men, only 15 per cent of women indicated that they never went to work feeling tired.
Many work and non-work factors can influence a lack of sleep. Employers need to look beyond the direct work environment to understand the contributing factors and, therefore, determine the best ways to manage fatigue for their operations and employees.
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