Leadership & Management

Promoting Good Sleep Habits for a Better Workplace

By Beth Osborne for RallyBright

February 18, 2020

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Employers have long known that tired employees can be a risk to workplace safety, but lack of sleep can impact productivity as well. With sleep deprivation now a public health epidemic, it’s significantly impacting employee performance. Because of this, promoting good sleep habits can greatly improve your team’s effectiveness. Your exhausted employees may be showing up on time, but are they capable of working without making costly errors?

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Work Performance

In a recent study on workers in the UK, 46 percent of respondents said they arrive at their job too tired to work, while 37 percent admitted to making mistakes. Those are shocking numbers. You, too, may have noticed a lack of sleep impacting the productivity of you or your colleagues.

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When our brains haven’t had the rest they require, they’re less effective. This can be a hazard in any job, whether you’re in finance or manufacturing. OSHA estimates that lost productivity due to fatigue costs employers a total of $136.4 billion annually.

It can result in a host of negative outcomes for your business, including:

  • Missed deadlines
  • Data errors that cause problems for customers, partners and internal departments
  • Increased on-the-job accidents
  • Higher absenteeism and healthcare costs (The National Safety Council estimates exhausted employees cost a typical employer more than $1 million each year)
  • Poor judgment that affects decision-making
  • Prolonged irritability that adversely affects your company culture
  • Burnout syndrome

While you certainly want your employees to enjoy restful sleep, the reality is that your workers live busy lives that often require them to be awake longer than they’d like. Employers must notice when sleep deprivation is hurting their people and their organizations.

How to Promote Good Sleep Habits Among Your Employees

While your employees likely manage their own schedule and time, there are still some important practices you can put in place to address worker fatigue. Here are a few ideas:

Shift scheduling: For companies that run multiple shifts, it’s vital to be consistent with scheduling. You should also always provide at least two consecutive days off. If you have workers that work different shifts, consider never scheduling four night shifts in a row.

Balance workloads and staff: Tired workers may be the result of massive workloads and lack of sufficient staff. You can’t expect your employees to take on multiple roles and responsibilities and then assume their productivity won’t suffer.

Track fatigue-related incidents: If your workplace involves any type of safety precautions, you should be even more concerned about worker sleep deprivation. Be sure to track accidents related to fatigue to discern how to make adjustments.

Create a pleasant working environment: Welcome in natural light and provide a cool setting so that workers stay alert. Conditions that are dark and too warm or too cold can make fatigue worse.

Train employees on the dangers of fatigue: Provide educational materials for your employees so they can understand the impact of fatigue and how to address sleep disorders.

Offer remote work options: Long commutes only add to sleepiness and exhaustion. Allowing employees to work remotely one or more days a week could help them catch up on sleep and travel more safely.

Advocate good sleep habits: Distribute content around good sleeping habits, such as disconnecting from technology before bed, meditation, limiting caffeine, creating a consistent sleep schedule, exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet.

Higher Productivity Equals Greater Happiness (& Vice Versa)

Suffering from sleep deprivation doesn’t always equate to being unhappy. It’s hard, however, to stay positive when your body simply doesn’t have the recovery time it needs. Feeling so time-starved that productivity suffers also impacts employee confidence and happiness.

Every company wants resilient teams of happy employees. They are more engaged, typically more loyal and significantly more productive – which further boosts their happiness. Sometimes the most significant hurdle to greater productivity and happiness is lack of sleep. Unfortunately, the problem is often as simple – and unsolvable – as not having enough hours in the day. In fact, a Gallup poll found that 48 percent of people say they don’t have sufficient time to do what they need to each day.

It would be ideal if we could just add a few hours to each week, but that’s not an option. What you can do as an employer is be proactive in managing and helping tired employees so that they can be more productive and happier.

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