Are your employees getting enough sleep and why should you care?

Wednesday November 18, 2020

According to a new study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, 2020 is the most stressful year in recorded history. The research indicates that up to 70% of the global workforce have reported increased levels of stress and depression. In turn, this has impacted their work and home lives – notably reducing their well-being and productivity levels.

The study also reports 40% of respondents felt sleep deprivation was the most common repercussion of the pandemic.

Shift workers are particularly at risk

Your biological clock is programmed to sleep at night and be more productive and alert during daylight hours.

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, going for 17 hours without sleep is as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.05% and going without sleep for 24 hours is the same as having a 0.08% blood alcohol level. The result? An increased potential for accidents to occur and a decreased ability to stay safe, alert, focused and productive.

Monitor ‘always on’ behaviour

An added risk factor, thanks to modern technology, is that people are now online more than ever before. In addition, remote working has blurred the lines between work and home-life. If we aren’t working on computers and connecting with work via video conferencing, we’re surfing the web, shopping online and connecting via social media. Being ‘always on’ brings with it increased mental exhaustion.

What can employers do?

Maintaining a productive workforce is critical in business, so actively looking at whether sleep deprivation is an issue for your staff is essential. If an employee is suffering from sleep deprivation, you can help by:

  1. Spotting the signs of sleep deprivation

Employees who are suffering from sleep deprivation will:

  • Be easily distracted or have problems concentrating
  • Have poor performance
  • Communicate less
  • Have low or aggressive moods
  • Be more absent
  • Increase their intake of caffeine and energy drinks
  1. Encouraging employees to take breaks

Make sure your employees are taking their breaks. Regular screen breaks, exercise, and fresh air are essential to helping you and your employees live healthier, happier lives.

  1. Encouraging employees to get a good night’s sleep

A good night’s sleep will help improve cognitive skills such as communication, problem solving, memory and concentration. Talking with an employee to identify the reason for their sleep deprivation could benefit your business, especially if it’s something simple like workload. If the cause of their sleeplessness is due to something more serious, recommending confidential counselling through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or similar, could be beneficial.

  1. Reviewing your workplace scheduling practices

Designing your workplace schedules to ensure employees get a good night’s sleep, especially shift workers, will benefit both them and your business. The top things to keep in mind are:

  • Minimising shift duration, so they get enough time to sleep
  • Reducing consecutive shifts
  • Managing shift rotations, so the shifts move forward, for instance from morning, to afternoon, to evening, to night shift (not the other way around)
  • Checking scheduled start times for each shift and how long employees may be awake

While it may seem ridiculous to worry about whether employees are getting enough sleep, their health and well-being at work is your legal responsibility. That means sleep deprivation can be bad for business. For help to support your team in the best way possible, contact The HR Dept. Our HR professionals can help you review your workplace practices to ensure they support healthy habits and routines for your business.

Preventing People Problems

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