Improve Staff Wellbeing on World Sleep Day

World Sleep Day Staff Wellbeing

I think we all know how to look after ourselves properly, (diet, exercise, water…) but how much do we really focus on getting enough of, and the right kind of sleep? How active are we as employers in creating cultures where our staff are encouraged to get enough sleep?

Today (17th March 2017) marks the 10th annual World Sleep Day and we thought we would celebrate the day, raise some awareness of sleep and share some great tips on how to promote an active sleep culture and increase the well-being of your employees.

Did you know?

• Sleep is a global epidemic that threatens the quality of life and health for 45% of the world’s population 

• Insomnia affects between 30-45% of the adult population. 

• Most disorders are preventable or treatable, yet less than one-third of sufferers seek professional help.

• People who don’t get enough sleep are at an increased risk for a host of health issues including; obesity, depression, heart disease and diabetes.

All these issues may lead to a decrease in performance, an increase in accidents or injuries (46% of individuals with frequent sleep disturbances report missing work or making errors at work, compared to 15% of healthy sleepers).   Which in turn means increased absenteeism, disengaged employees, staff retention issues and higher recruitment costs.

As employers, we have a responsibility to our business and our staff to encourage good quality sleep and work schedules that benefit us all!

How much sleep should you have?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, we all need different amounts of sleep based on our age, lifestyle and health.  To further complicate matters stimulants like coffee and external lights all interfere with our natural sleep/wake cycle circadian rhythm

Although you can not exactly pinpoint the exact amount of sleep required by research, the National Sleep Foundation has identified a “rule of thumb” (see insert) that is agreed by experts, but you should also assess your own requirements by understanding how you feel on various amounts of sleep too.


9 ways you can encourage your employees to get more sleep

1. Share Information 

Today is a great day to raise awareness of sleep and the impact that poor quality or sleep deprivation can have.  You can find loads of facts and useful information online.  Why not set up some competitions, games or quizzes to encourage everyone to get up to speed?  A good place to start is the 10 commandments for Adult Sleep Hygiene

2. Be Aware & Provide Support

Being alert to your staff’s behaviour patterns as a manager will help you identify if any of your team are having issues with sleep.  Understanding any changes in behaviour or listening out for workers who are always complaining about being tired.  Don’t just brush it under the carpet they may really benefit from a visit to their doctor, a consultation in a sleep centre or medical therapy.  

3. Limit Work Hours

Committed employees will do their best, stay late and work hard.  Many often stay connected to the company in their social time and outside opening hours too.  Some industries like recruitment have a reputation for long hours and some companies offer additional overtime opportunities.  To help your staff create good sleep patterns, you could create a culture that makes it OK to switch off, celebrate people who can get their work completed by 5.30 or make the time your employees spend at work more effective and productive with power slots or competitions.   Why not take some examples from companies such as Volkswagen, Atos or Persil who have all made steps to removing email access outside working hours

4. Introduce Flexible Working

There has been a heap of legislation about flexible working recently.  The world of traditional employment is changing.  If you haven’t already had to consider introducing flexibility to working hours in your environment, consider it now.  You may not have to offer unlimited holiday entitlement like Netflix or Hubspot however, you may be able to offer times to suit your employee public transport arrangements or a certain amount of agreed “unpaid leave”

Speak to your staff, find out what would work for them, what flexible options can you come up with together where you both benefit?

5. Invest in Tech

As employee wellbeing continues to creep up the HR agenda, companies are starting to use tech to monitor the wellbeing of their workforce, especially wearable tech.  Although the wearable tech industry has not grown as much as predicted (just 25% for 2016) the latest research from ABI suggests that corporate wellness programs will introduce more than 44 million wearable devices over the next 5 years.  

It may all sound a bit like big brother and we need to remember our employee’s right to privacy. The cost of implementing something like this may also be beyond your budget, but as your staff are your most valuable asset, it is certainly something to bear in mind and keep up with developments.

6. Switch to blue-enriched white lighting in the office

Pardon?  Well, apparently blue-enriched white light in the workplace improves alertness, performance and sleep quality. 

7. Encourage Exercise

It is proven that exercise helps promote good sleep.  As an employer, you could just do a few little things like; holding your meeting standing up or why not all go for a brisk walk and talk outside?  You could encourage or challenge your staff to spend 30 minutes during lunch to walk around the local area or perhaps you could hold regular breaks where you all stand-up and do a few stretches?  Of course, you could employ a yoga teacher or turn your board meeting into a gym but there are many ideas (and more) do not have to cost a penny but could give you a big return on sleep, wellbeing and productivity.

8. Provide Nap Rooms

This may seem like a bit “far out” but the “NASA nap” is common place among pilots and many of the large corporations (Zappos, Uber, Google ) have set up “snooze rooms” where their staff can grab 40 winks or even meditate.  At the very least providing an area away from desks where staff can relax and rest will all help to encourage good quality sleep and increase your productivity.

9. Lead by Example

Easier said than done in many cases?  As business owners or senior executives, we tend to work non-stop and burn the midnight oil.  Perhaps we should take some of our own advice and practice what we preach?  If we can’t practice, then making a few subtle changes to how we communicate our work ethic internally may make some significant changes in your culture.  Don’t send emails to staff at 2.00 in the morning – schedule them or save them as drafts for first thing in the morning.  Rather than talking about how hard you were working last night or what great ideas you had, why not change the topic to share the things that you were doing to improve your health?   You never know, by following a few simple rules yourself, you may also become more productive.

Join in today with #WorldSleepDay and “Sleep Soundly, Nurture Life” 

You can get more involved and help raise awareness on their website:  World Sleep Society

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