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Management Development
Wellbeing & Personal Development

Effectiveness and employee fatigue

Town from above
Published: March 12, 2024
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Ailie Shackleton is Head of Content Marketing at Impact.


It’s been a recurring theme in the conversations I’ve had or heard about for the last 12 months. 

There’s a cycle that many organisations seem to be in right now: people are working really hard and organisational targets are high; people don’t hit the targets so organisations suggest other ideas to enable targets to be hit; people take on more work and organisational targets remain high; people still don’t hit the targets, but do start to hit breaking point. 

It’s something we talked about with Ségolène Brantshen and Sahar Muhsin Laufman in recent podcasts. And it came up again today in a call with a client. The phenomenon of tired workers has become increasingly prevalent. Organisations across the globe are grappling with the consequences of employee fatigue, which not only affect individual wellbeing but also impact overall productivity and efficiency. Driving profit, targets and outcomes is leaving people exhausted. Without alignment to purpose, a psychologically safe environment to operate from, and clear communication from leaders, then your best employees are at risk of burnout. One of the phrases I heard today was ‘what is your north star’? And it led me to this blog and the question of what, as an employee, I’m looking for in the leaders around me, and in the acts of leadership I can take myself. Here are my thoughts… 

What is your north star? 

Just as sailors used to navigate the seas by following stars, employees need a ‘north star’ to know where to guide our efforts and energy. For me, my organisation has a vision, and our purpose is clear to our clients, to my team, and to me. And when I come to work I know what I’m doing to help guide us to the north star. 

Communicate, communicate, communicate 

My manager reminded me of the importance of this last month. And she’s right (she normally is). When people don’t know what’s going on, they disengage, and this can contribute to that feeling of fatigue. It’s not about needing the details; it’s about understanding the big picture and knowing that I don’t need to worry because someone clever is sorting it out (kudos to anyone in finance, I only do words). It means being empowered to focus on what I can influence, rather than feeling stressed about what I can’t.  

Candor is critical 

We can all think of organisations who say one thing and do another, to their staff, to their customers, to the press. It’s pointless because pedigree bloodhounds have got nothing on your employees – we will sense when things aren’t going to plan. But if you’re honest, we will be equipped to deal with the reality and can then manage our own expectations. Keep your promises, even when times are tough, and people will want to stay with you and feel a sense of pride. 

Dealing with organisational fatigue

For most organisations, the global and economic challenges they’re facing aren’t going to go away overnight. As a result, most workloads probably aren’t going to get any lighter in the coming days. Dealing with organisational fatigue is a complex issue; we can’t solve it with a team day or a week holiday. But having a systemic approach, and starting with clear, candid communication from the top will help. Set your “north star”, practice transparency in your communications, keep your promises and admit your failures. Doing this might just give your employees control over their energy and pave the way for sustained success.