Late Afternoon Fatigue Is Costing Your Company — Here’s What You Can Do About It


According to the National Safety Council (NSC), fatigue costs American employers an estimated $136 billion each year. Sometimes fatigue is unavoidable, like when a worker is ill. In other cases, it stems from the afternoon slump that nearly everyone experiences occasionally. How concerned should you be about late afternoon fatigue, and what can you do to counteract its devastating effects? Here are some practical solutions.

Factors That Contribute to Fatigue

Just because a job is not physically demanding does not mean it can’t be tiring. Employees are more likely to become fatigued in certain situations, regardless of the type of work they perform. Although a mid-afternoon slump is typical, weariness can actually happen at any time of the day or night.  A few factors that may contribute to tiredness include:

  • Operating hours that require people to report for their shifts very early in the morning or late at night.
  • On-call work, such as emergency services.
  • Working extended hours to cover essential shifts that would otherwise be left uncovered.
  • Performing shift work that gives an individual very little time to rest between shifts.
  • Working overnight or graveyard shifts.

Depending upon the nature of your business, it may not be possible to counteract these scenarios. If your company relies on shift work, on-call employees, or overnight hours, it is even more important that you provide your team with a way in which to manage their fatigue.

Circadian Rhythm and the Afternoon Slump

These factors may lead to fatigue; however, your employees can also become tired even if they work a traditional 8-hour workday during normal business hours. In addition, science actually backs up the concept of the afternoon slump.

A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals that our bodies are largely regulated by our circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythm primes your body to become more active during the day, and it peaks during the early afternoon. What follows is a feeling of sluggishness as your body’s circadian rhythm begins slowing down.

Effects of Fatigue

Not only are tired employees less productive, but they are also more prone to having accidents. As noted by Fusion Health, individuals are 2.9 percent more likely to experience a workplace accident when they are fatigued. The company also reported on an independent study, which revealed that those who have been awake for more than 15 hours have cognitive abilities similar to those with a 0.04 percent blood alcohol level.

Counteracting Afternoon Fatigue

Fatigue can have devastating effects on your business. While you cannot do much about employees who suffer from an afternoon slump, you can nonetheless provide them with practical ways to manage it. One such way would be to add a coffee station, micro-market, or pantry to your company’s break room. This can help your employees overcome their fatigue by:

  • Grabbing a quick jolt of caffeine or sugar to help them recharge.
  • Raising their blood sugar levels, thereby increasing their physical energy.
  • Providing a mental boost in attitude through a light snack.
  • Allowing access to fresh ice and water to eliminate dehydration and the fatigue that often results from it.

When your break room is adequately stocked, it will also give your workers a place where they will feel comfortable just kicking back and relaxing. Many times, a short break is all it takes for people to overcome their fatigue and be ready to start working again. By offering certain perks, you can sometimes offset any potential loss in production or safety risks, as well. To find out how your business could benefit from any of our products and services, please contact us.