We’ve all been there: trying to get one more thing done on the to-do list before going to sleep … or two more things … or two more episodes of that show we’ve been binge-watching. Or, maybe we’re struggling to stop thinking about the day and the to-do list long enough to relax. Any way you look at it, there are ample reasons that many of us aren’t getting the shut-eye we need to operate at maximum effectiveness each day.
Employers are in a prime position to help with this problem, and they have their own reasons for doing so. A lack of adequate sleep causes problems on the job, so any improvement to sleep amounts should have benefits for the employer. For example, improving employee sleep levels can:
- Reduce accidents and injuries on the job.
- Reduce stress and burnout.
- Improve mental clarity.
- Reduce the likelihood of car accidents.
- Reduce workplace conflicts that are due to emotional fatigue.
- Improve employee health, which not only has obvious benefits but also can reduce costs for the employer and reduce absences over time.
- Reduce presenteeism, whereby employees are present but less than fully productive.
- Improve creativity and innovation.
- Improve morale.
Encourage Employees to Get More Sleep
Employers that want to help their employees get better sleep have a lot of options to do exactly that. Here are a few:
- Keep consistent work schedules. This is particularly relevant for shift workers whose shifts might vary from day to day, but it is relevant for others, as well.
- Discourage working after hours to encourage better work/life balance.
- Set reasonable working hours, and minimize late nights and overtime when possible.
- Consider offering screening for sleep disorders for employees.
- Review employee responsibilities to ensure that expectations are appropriate and not causing employees to work too many hours and get burnt out.
- Offer healthy food options on-site, which can encourage other healthy behaviors.
- Ensure the workplace has natural lighting, which can help keep circadian rhythms in sync to keep the sleep cycle consistent.
- Consider allowing employees to take naps to refresh during the workday. (For more on this idea, check out this article.)
- Provide benefits that encourage exercise, which can, in turn, promote other healthy activities. Exercise also promotes better sleep, so one can lead to the other.
- In accident reporting, include questions about the amount of sleep and number of hours worked. (Note: Don’t use this to punish employees; track the data to see how these factors are impacting the workplace and what can be done to mitigate the problems.)
- Give employees information about the importance of a good night’s rest and how it impacts their health, their emotional/mental well-being, and their ability to remain safe and productive.
- Consider offering flexibility on the start and end times of the workday to allow employees to pick times that suit both their personal life and their personal preferences.
- Encourage managers to address the importance of getting enough sleep when discussing safety with employees.
- Encourage employees to take their vacation time, which can help them reset.
- Offer noncaffeinated beverage options in the workplace.
Does your workplace offer any means to encourage employees to get a good night’s rest? What would you add to this list?
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments, including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.