Employee Fatigue: Hurting Your Business Ethics? - InformationWeek

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Employee Fatigue: Hurting Your Business Ethics?
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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
9/15/2014 | 4:32:34 PM
fatigue and parenthood
The problem with companies fighting fatigue is that creates a reason to discriminiate against new parents, for whom fatigue is unavoidable.
David Wagner
IW Pick
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/15/2014 | 7:29:59 PM
Re: fatigue and parenthood
@Thomas- You don't fighting it by forcing your people to sleep. You fight it by giving them the opportuniy to rest both during and away fromt he job.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
9/15/2014 | 8:07:15 PM
Hangry
This was eye-opening Dave (pun intended). I honestly never considered a connection between fatique and ethics, though i'm a firm believer that getting sufficient amounts of sleep and eating well help you perform at your best no matter at work or at home.

I can vouch for the fact that the Snickers commercials are spot-on. I am definitely NOT myself when I'm hungry, and have seen plenty of "hangry" behavior in myself and others.

In the interest of being a good employee, I'm going to eat a Snickers and have a nap now...
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/16/2014 | 4:47:47 PM
Re: Hangry
@Susan- Do you get more like Betty White or Bobcat Goldthwaite? My favorite of those Snickers ads was always the one by the late, great Robin Williams. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
9/16/2014 | 6:12:21 PM
Re: Hangry
@Dave: Ah, yes, the Robin Williams ones were great. I'm more like Aretha Franklin or Liza Minelli when I'm hangry -- with a little Lewis Black thrown in for good measure, even though he hasn't appeared in any of the Snickers ads (yet).

for othere who have no idea what we're talking about, here's the URL to cut and paste into your browser

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9NmGV8LYrg
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/17/2014 | 12:22:53 PM
Re: Hangry
@Susan- How have they not down one with Lewis Black? That would be awesome. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
9/15/2014 | 8:10:20 PM
HALT
The best career advice I ever got was to use HALT as a guideline as to whether it was the right time to make an important decision. Here's how it works: ask yourself "Am I Hungry Angry Lonely or Tired?" If you're any of those things, then HALT (see what I did there?) and take care of your own human needs before making that important decision.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
9/16/2014 | 2:44:46 AM
Re: HALT
@Susan: I feel like I might not ever get anything done if I took that advice!  :p

Seriously, though, I do definitely put off most communicative tasks if I'm in a bad mood -- lest I say something I shouldn't!
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/16/2014 | 5:02:27 PM
Re: HALT
@susan- I love HALT. I've never heard it before. Can't say I make too many decisions while angry or lonely. I probably make a large number of my decisions while hungry or tired. Maybe i'll need to reconsider. I wonder though if there is ever a point in my existence where I'm not one of those four, especially hungry. :)
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
9/16/2014 | 6:19:43 PM
Re: HALT
@Dave: Yeah, I'd say the chances are greatest of my being hungry and tired, both of which have a tendencey to make me angry.

Regarding the lonely part, perhaps some social scientist will figure out a way to use it to justify FB use while at work. Five minutes with friends on FB before making a major workplace decision could make all the difference...
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/17/2014 | 12:24:09 PM
Re: HALT
@Susan- Are places still banning Facebook at work? I thought we got over this when FB started being used as a business tool. 

Is their anyone reading this that is still not allowed to use FB at work?
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
9/18/2014 | 2:59:54 AM
Re: HALT
SusanN,

Five minutes with friends on FB before making a major workplace decision could make all the difference..."

I don't know if FB is still banned from most companies if now FB is used for business as well. I always believed that banning FB from the the workplace is like saying to the employees that you don't trust that they are responsible enough to get into FB for a a few minutes only as a way of distraction during a coffee break, for example. If this responsibility would be taught at school instead of banning the same things to students maybe when those students grow up and go to work they are more responsible and companies wouldn't need to ban anything. Everyone would know how to behave. 

I believe taking a few minutes with friends of FB, or spending those minutes elsewhere online during a coffee brake can be beneficial as a way of resting the mind from fatigue. After those minutes, the brain is ready to finish any task with more efficiency. 

-SusanF
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/16/2014 | 5:07:42 PM
Re: fatigue and parenthood
@danielcawrey- I think the worst part is that many companies don't give employees a choice. The work load simply requires working past reasonable time. It has been show repeatedly that productivity in knowledge workers goes significantly after about 6 hours. Very few knowledge workers are capable of knocking off then, though. 

Hiring more (good) workers and having them all work fewer hours is probably the best thing a company can do for itself, but the worst thing it can do for its stock. It is sad.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/16/2014 | 5:12:01 PM
Re: Employee Fatigue
@zerox203- Well said. I think part of the problem in IT is that perosn you mentioned working late on a Friday night is treated like a hero. I'd like to see a manager treat the people who go home on time like a hero. Sometimes we all have to stay late to finish something, but the real hero is the person who finishes their work in their normal time. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/16/2014 | 5:17:08 PM
Re: fatigue and parenthood
@SaneIT- And there's the problem. No one person should be so important that every time zone relies on them. How do we solve this problem? More hiring? More cross training? Teaching people to be more independent? This can't be good for anyone. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
9/16/2014 | 6:30:24 PM
Re: Longer ours and the ethical company
@Todder: Ouch. It's a self-perpetuating cycle isn't it? And one that has only become more marked in the U.S. as we struggle to fight our way out of the economic slump & housing crisis that has shaped the past four years.

Have you had experience working outside the U.S.? I've always admired the countries that legislate the number of hours worked, and i've wondered how that works in reality as opposed to theory. Any insights you have about that would be appreciated. Maybe it's time for me to learn to speak French...
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/17/2014 | 12:26:29 PM
Re: Longer ours and the ethical company
@Susan- One of the things that it is interesting to me about other countries who enforce work hours, especially Europe, is they seem to have high unemployment. A lot of European countries have (or recently had) double digit unemployment. You'd think in countries where people don't work maddening overtime hours they'd need to employ more people to make up for the hours worked. 

I guess the people really are so much more productive they dont have to. A real lesson.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/17/2014 | 12:29:01 PM
Re: fatigue and parenthood
@SaneIT- Yeah, that seems rough. And I get it. If you ever work your way out of this rut, let me know. I'd love to do a story on how you break through a bad cycle like that.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
9/17/2014 | 1:11:21 PM
Sleep importance and focus

Dave very interesting research, sleep deprivation is more and more being linked to medical issues, but this is the first time I have seen it directly linked to a business ethics issue. I think that while the breaks and rest times make sense I have never been offered either during my corporate tenure. Days are usually so packed getting to eat lunch is often a challenge and usually occurs while on a conference call. This is then compounded by our busy after work time for many. For those that have kids the clock restarts as soon as the door is opened with homework issues, activities and prep for dinner and school the next day. Throw in a sick relative or child and the mix is really challenging. The sleep deprivation can become just part of life. I guess the question is how we can help people manage their schedules to accommodate sleep, at times its easier than others but how do we make sleep a priority? I know I couldn't say I am coming in late because my child was sick and I got no sleep it's not part of our culture in the US.

Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
9/18/2014 | 2:27:42 AM
Re: Sleep importance and focus
Impactnow, 

"I know I couldn't say I am coming in late because my child was sick and I got no sleep it's not part of our culture in the US."

That's exactly the problem. Sleep is part of your health and if it's not respected by the culture and society there is little an individual can do. Sleep deprivation is linked to medical issues and to work and study performance. The more sleep you get the better you will perform in both school and work. 

The good thing is that little by little researchers are paying more attention to these topics and thanks to the Internet more people are becoming aware of the damage they cause to their general health by not getting enough sleep, or not taking breaks at work. 

A BBC documentary I watched recently explained how people abuse their bodies and system in general since an early age, thanks to what you mentioned: culture. The documentary analyzed the life of an individual since she was born until she was 80. Life expectancy will improve and prolong if society starts to paying more attention and caring more for keeping the body and mind healthier for longer, but also starting since before it's too late when the damage has been done. This means, for example, having healthy eating/sleeping habits since childhood instead of changing habits when finally a doctor tell you that your health is at risk.

As you are mother, you may be interested in reading why Finland is ranked the number one place in the world to be a parent. We can't send links here as a way of avoiding spammers, but try this on Google: Title of the article on inhabitots dot com: Finland's Family Benefits Prove Why It's Ranked The Number One Place in The World to Be a Parent.

I was very surprised to read the following: "Paid parental leave has been available as a legal right and/or governmental program for many years, in one form or another, in most countries – with the exceptions of the United States of America, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and Liberia.The United States is the only high income country not to provide such leave."

All the above takes us back to the topic discussed here about employee fatigue, and what to do to help the cause. So, as long as the US doesn't change some basic things in its culture the problem with employee fatigue leading to underperformance at work, especially in parents with young children who can't get enough sleep. Once again, we have a bigger, deeper problem here. 

-Susan


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