Workplace health programs are finally becoming an integral part of the human resources function, which is quite understandable because there are obviously huge benefits to these programs. Healthier employees are happier, more motivated, more productive and less likely to be absent or leave the company. The current problem with these programs is whether employers are focused on them. The vast majority of employers have focused their initiatives around exercise, nutrition and musculoskeletal issues - all of which should be applauded, however. A business-to-business study undertaken in 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) on the health-related productivity costs of 15,000 employees showed that three of the five employee health issues are related to fatigue.
Fatigue is considered to be the most important issue for employee productivity. Depression is second and sleep problems are fourth. It should also be noted that there are a number of studies linking poor sleep to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. When comparing the costs of fatigue to exercise and nutrition-related conditions, the study shows that fatigue represents a significantly higher cost to companies. So the question must be asked: Why do organizations spend so many more resources on exercise and nutrition programs than they do on sleep and fatigue? Sleep, cardiovascular fitness and nutrition are the three pillars of our health. Good quality sleep is essential to keep us healthy and productive. If we lack energy, we're more likely to grab unhealthy foods and drinks to give us a "lift" (in short) and less likely to want to exercise. So without addressing fatigue, there is a risk that all the good work done on exercise and nutrition becomes redundant.the problem is that the focus of these programs does not address the key issues that affect organizations. Fatigue has been a growing problem in developed economies for some time and is a major barrier to organizational health, safety and productivity. We work more hours in an attempt to protect our jobs and are constantly concerned about our job security. Fatigue, stress, anxiety, depression and sleep problems are closely related. If we are worried, the amount of sleep we get (and the quality of our sleep) decreases. The result is fatigue which, in turn, makes it more difficult to manage our conflicting responsibilities and we are quickly overwhelmed by the slightest problem. It is alarming that this very quickly turns into a negative cycle. As budgets are reduced and more demands are placed on staff in their roles, the question is whether organizations need to focus on the biggest problem affecting productivity: fatigue.