As a savvy manager, you know that you’ll deliver the best experience to customers when your team is also at their best. So you invest the time to give your employees feedback, help them build their skills and create a work culture that they love being part of.
But after their shifts end and they head home, your employees could be undoing all your good work — without even meaning to. How? By not getting enough sleep. When employees skimp on shut-eye, their performance suffers, and so does your business. If you’ve never given much thought to your employees’ sleep habits, it’s time to start paying attention and even to help them get more rest.
Get the facts on sleep
Have you ever noticed that we all like to brag about how little sleep we can get by on? But the truth is that most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, according to a CDC report released in 2016, more than a third of Americans are sleeping less than seven hours nightly.
What’s causing the shortfall? According to MetLife, some 50 million to 70 million Americans have a chronic sleep disorder like sleep apnea, chronic insomnia or restless leg syndrome. Additionally, researchers have found that work and family demands cut into Americans’ sleep time. The people with the highest demands on them sleep the least. Because of their unusual schedules, it’s also harder for shift workers to get enough sleep.
Look for signs of sleep deprivation
How can you tell whether your staffers need more sleep? Yawning and drinking cup after cup of coffee aren’t the only signs of a sleepy staff. Here are a few more indicators to look for:
- They’re fuzzy-headed. People who aren’t sleeping enough have trouble refocusing on what they were working on after being interrupted.
- They’re testy. According to an article in The Huffington Post, our social skills also suffer when we’re sleepy. We get short-tempered and have a harder time managing our emotions. At the same time, we’re less able to read others’ emotions.
- They’re sloppy. Sleep.org reports that well-rested workers make better split-second decisions and do more accurate work. They also have sharper memories and quicker response times.
It’s important to remember that negative effects like these don’t just show up after an employee pulls an all-nighter. They start to happen after only moderate sleep deprivation, according to a MetLife report.
Learn the possible impact on your business
Researchers have tracked the very real damage sleep-deprivation can do in the workplace:
- Weaker teams. Not surprisingly, if your team members are sleepy, foggy and grumpy, teamwork at your business is going to suffer, The Huffington Post says.
- More burnout. Sleep deprivation is also one of the best predictors of burnout, sleep.org says. And burnout can lead to costly turnover.
- Higher absenteeism. Your employees may even be so sleepy that it’s causing them to miss work. Full-time workers in the U.S. miss about seven days of work annually because they’re not catching enough ZZZ’s.
- Major issues. A lack of sleep can even lead to some seriously bad workplace behavior, The Huffington Post says. Because sleep-deprivation leads to a loss of self-control, it’s associated with cheating, skipping out early, theft and even violence.
Promote better sleep habits
For all of those reasons, managers have to take sleep seriously as a big factor in workplace productivity. If your staff seems a bit bleary-eyed, and if you’re noticing behaviors and impacts like the ones described above, it’s time to take action.
- Build sleep-friendly schedules. Remember that besides their jobs with you, your employees are juggling family obligations and possibly other demands, such as taking college classes. The CDC recommends working with your staff members to create schedules that fit their lives and allow them to get the sleep they need. Using employee scheduling software makes it easier for managers to accommodate their employees’ special needs as they set work schedules.
- Provide sleep training. If you offer training or enrichment programs for your employees, consider making healthy sleep one of the topics. That’s what leading companies like Google and Goldman Sachs do, according to Fast Company magazine. Even sports teams have programs to encourage their players to get better sleep.
- Allow on-the-job naps. In her book “Work Without Walls,” productivity expert Maura Nevel Thomas recommends allowing employees to grab a quick catnap at work when their energy flags. Is there an unused office that you could equip with a couch or comfy chair that employees could use for rest breaks?
- Get some rest yourself. Don’t forget about your own power as a role model. Thomas reminds leaders to model healthy and productive behaviors for their staff. And that includes taking enough time to rest and recharge yourself. After all, your advice to employees to get more sleep won’t carry a lot of weight if you’re clearly fatigued yourself.