Learning & Development

New Leadership Focus: Sleep Leadership

Corporate norms evolve over time; sometimes, these norms are beneficial for workers’ overall well-being, and sometimes, they are detrimental. In general, though, the driving force behind such shifts is the best interest of the companies employing these workers. For example, until fairly recently, putting in long hours at the office was the norm, and those who were willing to burn the midnight oil were seen as dedicated and valued employees. Of course, this wasn’t great for employees and their personal lives, but it was seen as beneficial to corporations that expected to gain more productivity from their workers.


Increasingly, however, companies are taking a very different approach, instead embracing work/life balance and employee well-being. The motivations for this are two-fold, and neither is purely altruistic on the part of employers.

Reasons for a Focus on Well-Being

First, companies are recognizing that potential employees have choices, especially in a tight labor market in an economy driven by brain power, and these candidates value flexibility and work/life balance. Therefore, companies that offer these things have an edge in the competition for workers. Additionally, employees who put in grueling hours tend to burn out eventually, thus losing their motivation, engagement, and productivity.

Employers understand that by encouraging a healthier work/life balance, they may get fewer hours out of their workers, but they hope this is more than made up for by employees’ enhanced productivity and engagement.

Sleep Leadership

A relatively recent complement to work/life balance is “sleep leadership,” referring to leaders’ actively encouraging employees to get more rest so they can perform better at work.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, companies are increasingly recognizing [sic] the importance of employee wellness – especially as workers themselves demand it,” writes Kate Morgan in an article for BBC Worklife. “Programmes [sic] such as access to better flexible working policies, increased leave and mental-health apps are among the common approaches. But less traditionally, modelling and encouraging good sleep behaviour [sic] is also emerging as another approach to support employees from burning out.” 

Work/life balance expectations and the expectations surrounding time spent in the office have shifted over time, as companies have realized that, in many cases, encouraging a greater work/life balance and restfulness is as good for the company as it is for its workers.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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