I’m Tired, You’re Tired, We’re ALL TiredSharon Koehler

Stone Industry Consultant

Last month, I gave y’all (is my Southern showing?) some tips to help with everyone’s personal COVID Fatigue:

  • Move more (dance, walk, exercise, etcetera)   
  • Change the way you think (situation acceptance)

  • Listen to music (whatever moves you)

  • Talk about it (not just to yourself, but someone else)

  • Filter out negative input (negative people, news, social media).

These are just some of the recommended ways to get you through your own situation. If you watch any sort of programs like the Today Show or Good Morning America, COVID Fatigue and how to deal with it are in the news more and more these days. You might pick up a few other tips from those platforms as well.

This month, I’m looking at another side of COVID Fatigue: Worker Fatigue a.k.a. Worker Stress. This is what happens to people who are overburdened and over-stressed, working long hours to keep the company they work for functioning as normally as possible. It happens for multiple reasons. The biggest reason is due to lack of co-workers, either because people are out sick, or the business can’t find people to fill open spots. 

I’ve seen it more than once, recently. I called a friend not too long ago, and the stress in her voice was obvious from the moment she picked up the phone. She explained that three people were out sick, and she was trying to do the work of four people. Unless she can transform into Wally West or The Flash, there is no good ending here. Time and physics will not allow one person to become four, or duplicate the work of four in the same amount of time. 

It happened to my own son. He manages a department of people who are on the move, all day, every day. He had two open spots in his department, and then two of his people went out sick. He and one of his employees were trying to do the work of six people! Again, time and physics were against them. 

Now in truth, these situations can probably be handled in the short term with some teamwork and overtime, but as the situation continues or grows worse, the more likely worker fatigue will set in. With the variants kicking our as*** and businesses having difficulty hiring, Worker Fatigue is on the rise. 

Worker Fatigue does come with some recognizable symptoms: 

  • Repeatedly being tired after a good night’s sleep

  • Constant bad moods or irritability

  • Headaches

  • Lack of motivation or a lack of care about doing a good job

  • Memory issues

  • Trouble sleeping

  • More tardiness or absenteeism

  • Slower reflexes.

So now you find yourself saddled with doing the work of two, three, or four or more people. What can you do as an employee to help yourself? It is recommended that you make a list of all your duties and then prioritize. Bank deposits or invoicing may be more important than writing thank you notes or filing. If you are unsure what is the most important, ask your manager. If more than one boss is asking for your help, explain your situation to all involved and come up with a game plan together. 

Another thing you can do is get organized.
During stressful times, things sometimes fall through the cracks, making the stressful time more stressful (which is the last thing you need). Organize your workspace or company vehicle. Not having to search for a tool or report cuts down on the time you spend on a task. 

Make notes as you go along.
If you have to make daily or weekly reports of any kind, it’s much quicker to scan your notes than it is to try and remember something you did 6 hours ago or 6 days ago, especially since memory issues often plague fatigued workers. Also, if you have a verbal conversation with anyone that results in some kind of needed action, make a note so it doesn’t fall through the cracks, and you don’t have to circle back and try to remember. Notes don’t have to be written. Send yourself a text or an email. Put a note app on your phone (I love my note app). Use your Google calendar. Do whatever works for you for notes and reminders. 

Rely on email or texting whenever possible.
Texting and emailing create a verifiable record of what was said or agreed to. That’s better than trusting it to a stressed-out, overworked memory. 

Try to develop a schedule for yourself.
Now, for spontaneous people (like me), this can be difficult, but it helps. Knowing that at 2 pm you need to do a certain thing for a certain amount of time helps to keep things in order. Or, everyday on your way back to work or home, check your gas gauge. It’s easier to fill up at the end of the day than during rush hour in the morning, or when you are rushing to try and keep an appointment.

Take little mini-breaks during the day to rest your mind.
I don’t mean jump in the car and cruise around town. Go outside for two or three minutes, walk around your area for a minute, something to get the blood flowing and rest your eyes and brain. 

Try to leave work at work.
If you carry it home with you, the stress will follow you home as well, affecting not only you, but also your family. No bueno. Try to use the commute home to shift from work to home. I turn the radio up, sing along and take the long way home. You do what works for you. 

Bosses, supervisors, managers and owners: you can help. Worker Fatigue can affect the bottom line of your company in many ways. Mental issues can lead to bad decisions costing your company time and money. Dulled reflexes lead to accidents. However, there are things you can do to help.

Train all your employees about Worker Fatigue. Not only how to recognize it, but things you can do in a proactive attempt to prevent it. Try to keep schedules as consistent as possible and allow for consecutive days off. Keep the workspace cool and as full of natural light as possible. Don’t rely solely on your go-to guy or gal. Spread the extra work around as evenly as possible. If necessary, be prepared to do some training. Be understanding about little mini-breaks. Be involved with the extra workload. Don’t just delegate, pitch in. Lastly, show your employees you appreciate the extra effort. Smiles, pats on the back and thank yous go a long way toward attitude and morale. Of course, there are other things you can do as well. Find what works for you and your company. 

These are trying times for lots of reasons. Let’s all just try to be more aware and react accordingly. Healthy employees help make a good company.

Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at