When you’re concerned about increasing employee productivity, you probably focus on things that happen in the office. What if one of the biggest keys to employee productivity, however, was something that happens outside the office? In fact, the amount of sleep that your employees normally get has a big impact on their health and productivity.
How big of an impact? WebMD states that some sleep-related problems include being more accident-prone, an inability to think clearly, and health issues such as increased risk of heart disease, weight gain and depression. Comstock’s quotes a Sleep study that reports an average annual cost of $2,280 per employee who works when sleep-deprived. That can really add up, to the tune of over $63 billion per year nationwide.
While you can dictate behavior in the workplace, can you really dictate sleep habits? Of course not, but there are actions that your business can take to encourage your employees to get good sleep.
Don’t Expect Constant Access
In today’s world of smartphones and laptops, we expect to be able to contact our employees and colleagues at any time and expect them to respond ASAP. Emails are exchanged at all hours, and no one is ever really away from work. Employees feel pressure to respond to their bosses, but it’s not just the need to respond that can dampen someone’s sleep: It’s the actual use of the phone.
Screen time affects your melatonin. When your employees are constantly checking their computers or their phones, the blue light from the device’s screen convinces their bodies that it’s morning, making it difficult for them to fall asleep, according to Business Insider. To combat this, establish a policy that will make sure your employees understand that they aren’t expected to respond to anything after a certain time (say, 8 p.m.) except under extenuating circumstances.
Make Reasonable Travel Arrangements
If your workforce has national or even international responsibilities, travel and late-night conference calls are a given. Changing time zones can mess everyone up. Make sure that your employees are given time to recover after a time-zone-hopping business trip. If they are expected to be on a midnight call with people in Japan, don’t expect them to be in the office at 7:30 the next morning.
For shift workers, try limiting night shifts, taking employee preferences into account and giving adequate time between reassigned shifts.
Consider Nap Time
Naps aren’t just good for babies: They can be good for employee productivity, as well. A nap of 10 to 30 minutes can actually improve your employees’ performance, according to Entrepreneur. Having a space where employees can go lie down for a few minutes may be just the thing to help some workers through their day, and the 30-minute break may more than pay for itself in the form of increased performance.
While you can’t treat your employees like your children by enforcing a bedtime, you can try these few simple actions to help them get the sleep that they need so you can get the performance that you need.
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she interviewed and hired employees, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. Her writings have appeared in Inc. Magazine, CBS MoneyWatch, US News, Readers Digest and other publications. She focuses on helping businesses nurture great employees and helping employees enjoy great careers.