What does sleep have to do with workplace productivity? Pretty much everything.
The research on this topic is abundant and clear:
- Chronic sleep deprivation negatively affects concentration, reaction time, decision making, and memory.
- People who are sleep deprived have trouble completing many tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought.
- One study found that being sleep deprived is basically the same as being drunk.
And while most businesses would never allow an employee to be intoxicated on the job, they often allow (and even encourage!) sleep-deprived individuals to come to work every single day.
Are employers responsible?
You may think lack of sleep is strictly a personal issue. And you’re partially right. Your employees are in charge of their own sleep habits. However, work is definitely a factor in how those sleep habits develop or change over time.
Sure, you may only see your colleagues working away during their scheduled shifts. But what you might not realize is just how much work and/or work stress is also creeping into their off hours and causing them to lose sleep.
A recent CareerBuilder study revealed some fascinating statistics. Of the 3,200 workers surveyed, 61% of them reported that sleep deprivation affected their work in one or more ways. A full 58% of respondents said they didn’t get enough sleep, and 44% admitted that just thinking about work kept them up at night. Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents who reported getting the doctor-recommended 8 hours per night was a shocking 16%.
There are many work-related reasons why your employees are finding it harder and harder to get enough sleep, including:
- Long commutes
- 24-hour accessibility
- Increasing workloads
- Extended hours/overtime
- Off-hour or rotating shifts
- Stressful work environments
- Unattainable performance metrics
These factors can result in stressful work days— and sleepless nights.
How can companies help?
It all starts with being aware of the issue and educating your employees.
Much investigation has been done on how to combat or reduce fatigue, both in the immediate moment and over the long term, and there is lots of information available online. Communicate with your employees about the importance of sleep and provide them with information on how they can help achieve it through regular exercise, relaxation rituals, and unplugging from work.
But communication is just the beginning. If you really want to make a difference, take a look at your current processes and incorporate ways to address some of the key stressors affecting your employees.
Long commutes: Allow employees to adjust their schedules to avoid traffic delays. Consider telecommuting options.
24-hour accessibility: Encourage employees to unplug when at home. Provide flexible paid time off.
Increasing workloads: Ask your team if they feel their tasks are manageable and achievable, then make adjustments.
Extended hours/overtime: Are those long shifts really necessary? Could you do some hiring?
Off-hour or rotating shifts: Provide ample break times. Consider napping and exercise rooms. Provide coffee and tea.
Stressful work environment: Look to your leadership team to troubleshoot workplace issues. Build a strong culture of teamwork and communication.
Unattainable performance metrics: How are you measuring success? Is it realistic? Does it need to be re-defined?
It may sound strange to examine your HR and business processes from a sleep perspective, but don’t let that stop you from thinking about ways to encourage less stress and more shuteye.
After all, you can’t drive great results if your employees are asleep at the wheel.
Recruiting and retaining employees is easier when you can proudly offer a comprehensive benefits plan that makes your team members feel as valuable as they are. At Sonus Benefits, we build cost-effective, long-lasting employee benefits strategies to keep your business and your employees in optimum health.