Overexertion in the Workplace: Take it Easy

[This guest post is from Andrew Miller of Socialpreneur.com.]

Overexertion in the workplace typically refers to fatigue from overworking physically or mentally. Tired, exhausted, fatigued, or spent—whatever term you want to call it, overexerting yourself at work can cause a mound of problems.

Below are common consequences of overexertion:

  • Poor work performance
  • Slowed productivity
  • Increased chance of accidents on the job
  • Elevated likelihood of accidents leaving work (i.e. car accident on the way home, etc.)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Chronic health problems

Rules on Overworking Employees

Overexertion in the Workplace
Overexertion in the Workplace

When it comes to avoiding exhaustion at work, you might be your only line of defense against demanding employers. While there is no federal law regulating the number of hours an employee can work, some states have labor laws which place guidelines on the number of hours a part-time or full-time employee can work; these laws vary greatly by state and workers should check with their local labor department for specific details.

Surprisingly, there isn’t even a federal law which requires employers to give workers lunch breaks, coffee breaks, or smoke breaks—but again, some states have their own labor laws on the subject. Finally, there isn’t a law which requires a company to offer an employee a predictable schedule; your employer could easily ask you to come in on weekends when you normally only work from Monday through Friday. One of the only laws, as far as hours go, is one which ensures that workers are fairly compensated for working overtime (over 40 hours a week).

On the upside, most companies have their own policies about overworking employees to keep their managers and supervisors from over-scheduling employees when they are in a bind. If your managers are requiring you to work more hours than are allowed as outlined in the company policy, consult HR to seek a resolution.

What the Employer and Employee Can Do to Help

While overworking employees isn’t technically illegal, there are many more benefits associated with an employer who tries to keep their employees at least marginally happy and healthy. Certain conditions can contribute to fatigue and should be brought to the company’s attention if you feel as though these factors are disrupting your productivity at work: dim lighting, high temperatures, tasks which are extremely repetitive with no break/change in the nature of the assignment, and unreasonably high noise levels.

As far as the individual is concerned, the worker has responsibilities to make sure they are doing their part to be as mentally and physically able and alert as possible. Get up and move around at least once every hour; prolonged sitting can be just as unhealthy as smoking. (The Mayo Clinic outlines the dangers of sitting too long.)

If you can, power-nap on lunch breaks for added energy, cognitive ability, and creativity to get you through the rest of your day. Otherwise, eat healthy snacks during the day and avoid overdoing it on the coffee; too much caffeine can cause jitters, headaches, and extreme fatigue after you “crash.”

If the problem causing fatigue is personal and has nothing to do with working too much, the employee has an obligation to themselves and the company to work it out before letting their work suffer as a result. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, not coming into work hung over or intoxicated, and take steps to properly manage your stress.

About the Author:

Andrew Miller is an experienced Social Media expert and Author. He has worked in marketing for over a decade and finds his passion in bringing concepts to life for the world to enjoy. He is also an avid blogger and currently working on a book with his wife about social entrepreneurship. He is a true Socialpreneur and finds that his goal in life is to be an agent for positive social change through both his writing and business endeavors. Find him on Google+

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