Benefits

Should You Allow Employees to Sleep on the Job?

Not everyone gets a good night’s rest. From home obligations to stress, there are seemingly hundreds of reasons why your employees may not be getting the necessary shut-eye each night. Almost all of us have felt the urge to take a quick refreshing nap during the day, and many sleep experts agree that it can be beneficial. Napping could even allow us to be more productive after awaking—thus increasing productivity rather than decreasing it.

So, does this mean employers should let employees sleep while at work? Maybe! Let’s take a look at some pros and cons to allowing employees to nap while at work.

Napping at Work: Pros

Here are some of the benefits to allowing employees to take a nap while at work:

  • Increased productivity. A quick nap can help someone feel refreshed and more alert and, thus, more productive afterward.
  • Increased energy. After a nap, it’s common to feel more energized and able to tackle the issues of the day.
  • Reduced accidents. It should come as no surprise that someone who is sleep-deprived is more likely to cause an accident. Napping can help reduce this problem.
  • Better rest overall. Naps can help employees sleep better in general, which can improve their health overall. Naps can help reduce stress hormones, which will have both short and long-term benefits.
  • Less inadvertent napping. Unfortunately, with how sleep-deprived many of us are, many employees report accidentally falling asleep on the job. If napping were allowed, employees could do this in a more productive way and get back to work more refreshed.
  • Improved behavior. We all know that people tend to get irritable or frustrated easily and make poor decisions when they’re tired. Employees are no exception. Allowing naps can help minimize how often these behaviors occur due to sleep deprivation.
  • Better attraction and retention. If employees (and potential employees) see the work benefits include things that help individuals stay healthy and well-rested, they may be more likely to want to work there.

Napping at Work: Cons

Here are some of the drawbacks to allowing naps at work:

  • Fear of suffering from negative connotations. If the culture does not support napping, employees may actually fear negative repercussions from taking a nap at work—even if it’s a stated policy that napping is allowed.
  • Culture change takes time. This type of change may take a while to implement because there are likely going to be holdouts who refuse to view napping as anything other than laziness—thus making it tougher to implement (and more likely to have the issue above).
  • Investment is probably required. Creating a good napping space may require investment in space, in appropriate sleeping furniture (pods, cots, or hammocks, for example), and possibly in things like soundproofing or other means to make the space conducive to sleep.
  • Employees may fear ulterior motives. Employees may resist the initiative, assuming this means they’ll be expected to put in longer hours. The key to managing this is ensuring the culture supports it. Communication about expectations is also critical (of course, naps will indeed come in handy when working long hours—the key is managing whether long hours are expected).
  • Employees may need others to cover. Depending on what your employees are responsible for, they may need someone else to cover for them while napping, just as they would when taking any other break. This will need to be managed well

How to Implement Napping at Work

If you’re considering allowing this benefit for employees as a means to improve retention and productivity, there are several ways to implement it. The main thing to do is of course to provide an appropriate place to allow employees to take short naps, as clearly, it will be more beneficial if they can actually get real rest. Some options include sleep pods or separate rooms set up for napping.

If an area is provided, it should be quiet and cool. Naps are commonly felt to be most beneficial if kept to around 20–30 minutes. Longer will risk going into deeper sleep, which may create grogginess upon waking, and shorter may not have as many benefits.

No matter the infrastructure, however, the culture has to support it. If the managers or other employees are making snide remarks about someone who is napping, clearly that will discourage others and will minimize or even eliminate any benefits of the program.