Everyone can spot changes in weather phenomena – such as the occurrence of droughts and fires, torrential rainfall or more frequent and longer heat waves, especially in areas of the world where they have hitherto been relatively rare. This fact has led to the emergence of a phenomenon called “summer fatigue” (Japanese: natsubate, read: “nat-soo-bah-tay”) in the workplace. Below we explain how to deal with it.
Year after year, the Earth’s temperature is increasing – the years 2011-2022 were the warmest in world history. Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (which are the result of human activity) have meant that global warming is now increasing at an average rate of 0.2 degrees Celsius per 10 years and is causing significant climate consequences.
Summer fatigue in the workplace – table of contents:
- Summer fatigue – what is it?
- Summer fatigue and employee productivity
- Consequences of the heat wave – a new challenge for companies
- Summer fatigue – tactics of action in companies
- Summer fatigue – summary
Summer fatigue – what is it?
The term summer fatigue refers to the feeling of great weariness resulting from a heat wave and leading to lethargy or the onset of disease symptoms.
It is derived from the Japanese language and is a combination of two words – “natsu” meaning summer and “bate” meaning fatigue. This word was born in the land of the cherry blossom, and because this country – although characterized by a climate similar to conditions in Central Europe – is increasingly haunted by heat waves, during which temperatures reach 35-40 degrees Celsius.
Such climatic conditions do not go unnoticed by members of society, who are not accustomed to them from an early age. They especially affect employees, making it necessary for company managers and HR departments to take appropriate measures.
Summer fatigue and employee productivity
No one doubts that persistent heat waves can lead to poor well-being – both physically (fatigue, lethargy, headaches, fainting, nausea, etc.) and mentally (difficulty focusing).
This does not go without impact on the quality of work performed during the holiday months.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a UK government agency, has indicated that the consequences of heat stress can also include muscle cramps or heat rash, and sometimes sunstroke (heat stroke). Stroke means that the body has experienced overheating, which can lead to significant cardiovascular dysfunction and, in more serious situations, even heart damage.
Consequences of the heat wave – a new challenge for companies
Companies in a variety of industries should therefore already be thinking about how they can ensure that the people they employ are comfortable even when temperatures reach extreme levels – especially as such high temperatures will continue for longer and longer periods each year.
Although each person is characterized by individual resistance to heat, the risk of the above-mentioned symptoms must be taken into account when setting working conditions.
In this respect, companies employing office workers are certainly in a better situation (air conditioning ensures optimal working conditions) than those working physically outside (e.g., construction workers, assemblers) or on the road (e.g., drivers), or managing busy places (e.g., food outlets).
Summer fatigue – tactics of action in companies
The primary option for dealing with extreme temperatures is to have your employees stay at the home office so as not to expose them to the sun on the way to and from work.
However, if employees must perform their duties from the office, you can take the following steps:
- Determine the optimal temperature in the room – with the help of ventilation or air conditioning (invest in these solutions if you don’t already have them or they don’t work properly!) – it should stay at 20-23 degrees Celsius for comfort.
- Ensure adequate hydration levels – make sure that employees have constant access to water at all times and that supplies are replenished regularly.
- Train your employees – make sure they know exactly what the symptoms of overheating are and that they will be able to recognize them both in themselves and their teammates. It’s also a good idea to provide first aid training in case of heat stroke or fainting.
- Think about employees who perform their duties outdoors – you may be able to create artificial shade for them, provide a constant supply of bottled water, or equip them with UV-protective sunscreen or corporate headgear.
Summer fatigue – summary
It can be expected that shortly – with recurring or persistent heat waves – the Japanese term summer fatigue will permanently enter the business vocabulary.
However, you can’t wait for the extreme temperatures to set in, because by then it will be too late to act (you may, for example, have trouble buying an air conditioner or fan). So make sure that you are properly prepared for the onset of summer fatigue with the tips listed above. Then you will gain confidence that you have taken proper care of the health and comfort of your employees, especially in the area of raising their awareness of the negative effects of heat.