Raking the Coals: Reducing Employee Fatigue

Keep your personnel burning bright so they don’t burn out in a way that creates waste and inefficiency. Employee fatigue is a true business risk.


This post is not designed to diagnose, treat, provide guidance on, or be an authoritative source for employee fatigue or any other medical or other condition. Please seek medical advice from a fully trained, licenses, educated, and authorized medical provider for any medical issues, concerns, worries, advice, and/or treatment.

The Concept

Most people who have burned wood know that at some point bright, hot, glowing orange embers are formed. As those embers expunge hair sizzling heat a thin layer of white ash form on their surfaces. As the ash increases in thickness the heat radiating outward is decreased. The embers inside the ash will still bite with their burning temper but are hidden by the white vail. That is why people rake or turn the coals. Raking the coals shakes off the vail of ash and exposes the mighty orange glow. In much the same way people need to be shaken free of work fatigue.

Applying the Concept to Employee Fatigue

We will use “Minola” and “Jarmina” a front-line information security personnel as the example for this post but it is applicable to personnel in nearly all professions. Minola works in a security operations center monitoring network traffic at the tier two level. Jarmina is also a tier two operator but rotates responsibilities with team members. Both Minola and Jarmina hold the same credentials, work the same hours, and have the same basic background, skills, and abilities. Both are also required to take a two week vacation every year due to their respective employers’ mandatory vacation policy.

Minola Experiences Employee Fatigue

On the first day of work Minola was excited to start a new position in an exciting career. Minola even showed up to work 20 full minutes early. The people were all so polite and the work was extremely interesting. There always new things for Minola to learn and no time to learn them. That was six months ago. Now Minola shows up to work exactly on time or a couple minutes late every day. As Minola’s day progresses there are times where the clock seems to just stand still. Minola isn’t as pleased with coworkers anymore and has even had decreased performance. Minola has stopped training and needs several cups of coffee per day just to stay awake. Minola is work out from work and has become irritable to the point the manager is considering a replacement.

Jamina Avoids Employee Fatigue

Jarmina was also 20 minutes early for her first day of work. On Jarmina’s first day each of the new teammates worked with Jarmina for two hours. Each teammate was tasked with teaching Jarmina one area of responsibility. Jarmina was excited to be learning so many new things and found plenty of time to ask questions and train. That was six months ago. Now Jarmina changes responsibilities every week within the team’s overall area of responsibility. Jarmina feels the frequent changes makes it possible to avoid getting bored, overwhelmed, or annoyed at work. Jarmina has contributed to documentation efficiencies that have benefited the team. There is an open position in tier three to which Jarmina is considering applying.

Contrasting Experiences

Both employees have the same areas of responsibility at work. Minola must address multiple areas of responsibility daily. Jamira is only required to address a defined subset of responsibilities daily with the subset changing weekly. Minola has become irritable at work and shows signs of becoming an insider threat. Jamira is flourishing at work and is displaying a desire for longevity.


This is not a real example and uses fake employees however the underlying lesson is valid. Workers need to be challenged and need variety. If an employees feels locked into a static set of repetitive tasks or feels overwhelmed by monotony the employee may burn out. Employees are embers that need to be raked to ensure they burn bright and provide the brightest view possible. Job rotation isn’t just a best practice to find fraud, it’s a necessary practice to ensure longevity. Even in teams with limited responsibilities there is the capability of rotational responsibility. Keep your personnel burning bright so they don’t burn out in a way that creates waste and inefficiency. Employee fatigue is a true business risk.