What is alert fatigue?

Feb 20, 2024 | Glossary

Alert fatigue is a serious issue that affects numerous professions, e.g. in IT or healthcare. It can lead to neglecting critical events and delaying response times. Responders need to continuously monitor their systems and applications to avert possible downtime and keep operations running smoothly. However a high number of incoming alerts inundating these teams can make them less responsive. The ramifications of such disregard can severely affect the efficiency and dependability of response teams.

Understanding the Causes of Alert Fatigue

Alert fatigue is also known as alarm fatigue or notification overload. Although the specific terminology may vary slightly, they all refer to the idea that individuals can become overwhelmed by a high volume of notifications or alerts. This results in potentially dangerous delays during critical situations. This phenomenon has several scientific explanations:

  1. Sensory Adaptation: Repeated or constant stimulation desensitizes sensory organs, causing them to become less sensitive over time.
  2. Cognitive Overload: A constant stream of notifications can overwhelm employees and lead to cognitive overload. The brain may fail to respond effectively to each alert.
  3. Habituation: Frequent false alarms can cause employees to become accustomed to them, leading to them ignoring the alarm and taking it less seriously.

The Effects of too many Alerts on your Team

Alert fatigue can cause various problems in the enterprise. For instance, in the cybersecurity sector, unheeded alarms can result in severe consequences such as system outages and data breaches.

  1. Overloading your teams: Too many notifications can leave your employees overwhelmed, which can lead to health issues and subsequent sick leave.
  2. Delayed response times: The large number of alerts makes it difficult for staff to respond promptly to critical alerts, resulting in extended downtimes.
  3. Erroneous alerting: It becomes challenging to differentiate crucial alerts from irrelevant ones. IT teams may end up responding to the wrong alerts and missing crucial incidents.
  4. Reduced productivity: Productivity can decrease due to the amount of time spent dealing with unimportant incidents resulting from a large number of alerts.
  5. Increased costs: Prolonged downtime may lead to increased costs and potential loss of customers.

How SIGNL4 relates

SIGNL4 prevents alert fatigue by offering a variety of features designed to ‘cut through the noise’, notify resonders only upon relevant and critical alerts.

Read more about fighting alert fatigue with SIGNL4

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