The Need for Recovery Scale (NFRS) is a self-report questionnaire developed by Prof Marc van Veldhoven and Dr Sjaak Broersen and is designed to measure early symptoms of fatigue at work. Fatigue increases the risk of injuries or other accidents on the job. As an employer, the difficulty remains the question of how to consistently isolate the workers that are experiencing signs or effects of fatigue as opposed to simply being tired on the job. Fatigue, unlike tiredness, results from a lack of sleep and can be heightened from prolonged mental activity or long periods of stress or anxiety. For this reason, the NFRS focuses on fatigue as a construct to isolate those at potential risk. It describes fatigue at work as the change in the individual’s psychophysiological ability to regulate their work task behaviours. When people experience high levels of fatigue, they typically find themselves no longer able to adequately meet the demands that the job requires on their mental functioning. In addition, they find themselves only able to meet these demands at the cost of increased mental effort and coping with increased task resistance. The NFRS report was developed by Dr Gary C. Townsend and Michelle Townsend of Skillworx Africa (Pty) Ltd.
Why measure fatigue at work
Fatigue at work is the major symptom in a variety of psychological and psychiatric disorders, diagnosed in occupational health care as chronic job stress, burnout, adjustment disorders, and physical lapses like daytime sleepiness. Because this category of disorders is one of the major causes of production loss, sickness absence, and work disability in the workplace, it is important that the Need for Recovery Scale (NFRS) is used to establish early indications of fatigue at work.
Participants undertaking the 11-item NFRS assessment receive a detailed report containing a summary score of the overall level of fatigue. Higher scores indicate a higher degree of fatigue, more concentration problems, reduced motivation, low levels of activity, and / or the propensity for daytime sleepiness. Any score above six (6) on the NFR Scale should be flagged as possible early symptoms of fatigue from work. Seven (7) to thirteen (13) spans the “mild” to “moderate” range which should flag the possibility of there being an increased risk for psychological complaints. Scores of fourteen (14) and above should be a clear concern for individuals having a high fatigue risk. This encompasses the “severe” and “extremely severe” categories and strong consideration should be given for a clinical interview.
Benefits for the individual
The insights gained from the NFRS assessment will provide an objective idea of a person’s chronic job stress and potential burnout levels. In addition, the NFRS can be used in occupational healthcare to monitor difficulties workers experience in recovering from work related exertions as well as to evaluate occupational healthcare interventions. It is very sensitive in detecting an increase in working hours.
Benefits for the organisation
The NFRS model suggests that work produces costs in terms of effort during the working day which results in an array of emotional, cognitive, and behavioural symptoms, that are reversed when the work effort exerted by the individual stops. In a sense, short term fatigue at work. The NFRS model proposes that the symptom reversal takes a certain time span, usually within the same working day and / or the following night. This need for recovery is typically more evident during the last hours of work and immediately after work and is characterised by temporary feelings of overload, irritability, social withdrawal, lack of energy for new effort, daytime sleepiness, and reduced performance. Detecting this in the workforce can minimise risks associated with high safety-critical roles as well as moderating unhealthy work environments by ensuring strategies that re-frame the work environment in favour of the employees.
NFRS Personal Report
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