Could lack of sleep be sapping employees’ productivity?
We’ve all spent nights tossing and turning in bed, unable to fall asleep, trying to figure out how much sleep we’ll get if we drop off right now – and we’ve all felt the effects of it the next day. A study by Vitality Health revealed that we are less productive at work if we have less than seven hours of sleep a night, but ask around in any office and you’re bound to find that there plenty of people who would find seven hours a luxury.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to all kinds of cognitive and health issues, from high blood pressure and weight gain to mood changes and poor concentration, yet lack of sleep is frequently dismissed as an expected part of modern life. Employees who call in sick as a result of poor sleep or those who show up for work but are sluggish and unproductive cost the economy around £40 billion a year – so the chances are it could be impacting your business, too. If your employees are struggling to sleep, they’ll also be struggling to think creatively, make decisions and concentrate properly, leaving you with dramatically reduced productivity.
Your business might not be able to stretch to Google-style on-site sleeping pods or Goldman Sachs’ in-house sleep experts, but there are ways of encouraging your employees to make getting a good night’s sleep a priority in time for World Sleep Day…
Reduce stress in the workplace
The reason why many of us struggle to sleep at night is because we are worrying about work, so it could be time to take a look at ways to reduce stress for your employees. From ensuring that their workloads are manageable to giving them more control over their working hours, identifying and tackling the major stressors in your workplace could take some weight off your employees’ minds.
Look into wellness schemes
There are many factors that contribute to poor sleep, and even minor lifestyle changes could make a major impact. Think about holding workshops on healthy eating, mindfulness sessions or even lunchtime yoga classes to give your employees the tools to relax and make better lifestyle choices.
Give them a break
Many of us struggle with the concept of taking breaks, but even taking a fifteen-minute walk in your lunch break gives you the chance to step away from your workload and re-focus. Some companies are beginning to encourage employees to take power naps during their breaks, so if you are in a position to offer this to your employees then a 20 to 30 minute nap can boost alertness and improve work performance.
Time to switch off
We all know that staring at a screen before bedtime can wreak havoc with our body clocks, but we still ignore the warnings to turn off our gadgets. Stress to your employees that, unless it is an emergency, they aren’t expected to respond to work emails outside of their working hours. Similarly, don’t send after-hours emails to your employees, as they will feel the pressure to reply straight away.
If you notice that any of your employees are particularly struggling, talk to them about it. Insomnia and other sleep problems can have a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing, so if you notice signs of fatigue such as irritability, poor concentration and decreased motivation, you should discuss it with the employee and encourage them to seek help.