By Mandy Hale

Physical or mental exhaustion can hugely impact a worker’s performance and safety at work. So, what can you do as an employer or manager? When you play an active role in managing stress and wellness at work, you can help to prevent fatigue and create an enjoyable and rewarding workplace.

The most common causes of fatigue at work include factors such as:

  • Irregular working hours;
  • Sleep disruptions;
  • Environmental conditions making it hard to concentrate or work safely;
  • Physically or mentally demanding tasks;
  • Personal and emotional well-being; and
  • On-going pressure or criticism.

And, of course, COVID-19 has added a new dimension to this list.

The good news? Fatigue at work is manageable.

A company should have good policies and processes in place to protect the well-being of its workers. And there are many things HR teams, leaders and managers can do to create awareness, assess and manage workplace fatigue should it strike!

I sat down with Esther Williams, Head of HR at enableHR to talk about the strategies she uses to approach this workplace health challenge. Here are ten of Esther’s top tips to support your people and manage stress at work.

Tips for assessing fatigue 

1. One-to-ten shout outs

Do a quick health check of your team by asking them to rate how they feel that day on a scale of one to ten: one (terrible) > ten (on top of the world).

2. Surveys 

Surveys are a great way to learn how your people are feeling. Identify where stress or low motivation is present and work with managers to make positive changes. But get creative with each survey and mix it up; otherwise, you’ll be dealing with survey-fatigue!

 3. One-on-one catchups 

Train managers to run conversations, know the signs and to respond supportively! Make sure records of these conversations are stored securely in your HR software.

Tips for managing fatigue

4. Humanise your approach

When approaching workplace wellbeing, it’s important to remember that we’re all human; relationship building, respect and trust-based communication are essential skills for keeping humanity at the core of your fatigue management approach.

5. Boost communication 

If your people don’t have a way to speak up, it’s hard to know when they need help. Provide different channels to facilitate good communication – think surveys, questionnaires, a suggestion box or email. Often your employees don’t know what they need, so, don’t be afraid to probe and ask questions that provide the right solutions; greater flexibility, reduced hours, fewer meetings are just some areas that may need improving.

6. Your managers are valuable tools!

Managers are the crucial relationship holder linking HR to your employees. Coach your managers to identify and connect employees with the right solutions for them. Don’t forget to look after your managers too as they’re also at risk of fatigue from having to deal with other people’s challenges. You can support your managers by building a culture within your business that puts mental and physical health first.

7. Share personal experiences

Break down the stigma and shame of fatigue by giving your people at every level of the business the opportunity to discuss and share their own personal stories. No one is bulletproof; we have all at some point in our lives experienced a time when we’ve needed help.

8. Block out time for non-work activity

Many employees will overwork voluntarily so it’s important to let them know your company values their well-being and expects self-care! Diarise non-work-related conversations and arrange walking meetings for your employees. Create space for them to step back and recharge. If your team member is remote, ask them to send you a selfie on their walk!

 9. Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

An EAP is a voluntary and confidential service which supports employees and managers with any personal or professional issues that they’re experiencing and can make all the difference. Giving your people the right tools that support their well-being is a win-win for your people and your business; when your people are happy and healthy, they’re more alert, and more productive!

 10. Don’t give up

Whether you’re a team leader, an HR manager or a business owner, it’s understandable to think that regular check-ins with your employees might be perceived as a hassle. If you don’t get a response from your people, don’t be fooled by their silence! Keep going, get creative with the ways you connect and share your messages, and you can make a positive impact on employee well-being.

If you’d like to learn about how enableHR can help you manage fatigue and other aspects of workplace safety and employee management, get in touch with the team at enableHR.


Mandy Hale is a talented marketing communications professional. She works at enableHR New Zealand and is responsible for curating engaging, useful content that educates and informs clients and people interested in learning about how enableHR can support their businesses. When Mandy isn’t in front of her computer, you can find her out catching waves!