Long and busy days are tiring. This is not new. But it is not sustainable.
It is ok to have a busy couple of days, but when it becomes the norm – then we have a problem.
Our research shows that your workm8tes have highly physically and mentally demanding jobs.
Jobs that require lots of concentration, repeated manual labour and tight deadlines.
Workm8tes in these jobs are exposed to high levels of stress – which can lead to both physical and mental injury.
High-demand tasks or jobs might include:
Long work hours
High workloads including too much to do, too many projects or deliverables, fast work pace or time pressure
Frequently working in unpleasant or hazardous conditions including working in extreme temperatures or noise, using hazardous chemicals or dangerous equipment
Work that is beyond the worker’s capabilities or training
Analysing complex/detailed information or doing detailed assembly work requiring high concentration
Long periods of attention looking for infrequent events, such as quality control, monitoring or high-risk production.
Sound familiar? We thought so.
Let’s fix it
We’ve pulled together a checklist of actions to reduce the impact of demanding work on your workm8tes.
Reduce the impact of physically and mentally demanding work with these actions
Involve workers in regular task and process review and job design to identify efficiencies, and remedy frustrations. Find out more about how to co-design solutions here.
Create meaningful jobs with clear purpose and appropriate workloads. Regularly assess job roles and responsibilities, redesigning work to avoid creating demanding or boring jobs. Find out more about designing no stress jobs here.
Ensure workspace, tools, machinery, equipment and PPE are fit-for-purpose and well maintained through regular inspections. Proper design of tools and equipment significantly decreases the force needed to complete the task.
Make the physical work environment as comfortable as possible and designed specifically for the tasks being undertaken. This can include temperature control, increased airflow, adequate shade, and comfortable low fatigue workstations.
Ensure that tasks are matched to the skill and capability level of your workers.
Ensure workers take their annual leave entitlements.
Give workers control over how and when they do their work including work pace and order of tasks.
Allow for adjustability in line speed when there is a change to produce development to enable workers times to adjust to the new process (e.g. new product or process).
Limit periods of excessive physical or cognitive/mental demand for workers, particularly towards the end of the shift or week when workers are tired.
Regularly rotate workers' jobs, tasks and activities so that workers aren’t overexposed to physically, mentally, emotionally or environmentally demanding work or hazardous materials or recurrent monotonous work.
Schedule additional rest breaks for night shifts, highly demanding jobs, low body clock periods of the day, between 2.00am – 6.00am and 4.00pm – 6.00pm, and particularly if workers wear PPE or work with hazardous materials.
Teamwork can provide greater variety and more evenly distributed work, decreasing the impact of highly physical, cognitive/mental, emotional, hazardous and environmentally challenging work. Having a team where each worker carries out a set of operations to complete the whole product, reducing the demand on one single worker. Tasks should be shared/rotated amongst workers so that each worker has variety in their role.
Work as a team to agree on an approach to manage and share work demands in peak periods. Find out more about how to co-design solutions with your team here.
Reduce time-based pressures and incentives for work outputs, providing workers with sufficient time to complete their tasks. Including financial rewards and incentives that encourage fast and potentially unsafe work.
Ensure workers are well trained and capable of undertaking their required tasks. Provide additional training if required so workers have the right skills.
Create opportunities for job rotation, job variation and job shadowing. This enables job and task variety, expanding skill development, workplace relationships, and gives workers a break from the same type of demanding work.
Allow workers to self-select their work tasks rather than being assigned tasks. This gives the worker greater job control and removes bias from supervisors assigning tasks.
Provide amusements to enable workers to ‘switch gears’ during breaks. Computer games, comfortable tearoom, outdoor space, exercise equipment.
Avoid additional requests for non-critical work during times of peak demand.
Download the demanding work checklists tackling high physical, cognitive/mental and emotional job demands
Find out more about fatigue and reduce the risk of worker stress and injury with these actions and mitigations.
Download the fatigue action checklist
For further information on how to minimise the impact of workm8te fatigue, see WorkSafe Victoria's guide on work-related fatigue for employers.
Control your risks
Depending on the type of work being done not all job demands can be prevented, removed or controlled. When looking to mitigate work-related risks like job demands, follow the hierarchy of control to maximise effectiveness of your actions. When demands cannot be prevented, we can use additional positive actions at both the workm8te and workplace level to help offset the negatives of the job.
But we’re going to level with you – workplace interventions are more effective and lead to longer lasting change.
It is about getting the balance between demands and resources right at the worker and workplace level. This is done through good work-design creating good and rewarding jobs and tackling the causes of work-related stress through prevention and intervention.
We've got the tools for you
Understanding the work-related factors that impact your workm8tes is the first step to tackling the causes of workplace stress.
Learn about the key hazards workers face, how they show up, and what to do about them.
Take our free online assessment and find out what work-related factors are causing your workers stress, and get a tailored list of prioritised actions to tackle them.
Take care to design good and rewarding jobs. Good job design removes, reduces, and minimises the work-related factors that cause workplace stress, and amplifies the parts of a job that are positive and fulfilling. Find out what makes a good job, and take our online job assessment to see how your jobs measure up, and get a tailored action plan to create better, stress free jobs.