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5 Smart OH&S Strategies to Combat Sleep Deprivation at Work
Workplaces are getting back into the swing of things. And it’s the perfect time to assess Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) matters including an awareness of how sleep deprivation affects productivity, and your bottom line.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation Report, four in ten Australians don’t get enough sleep. The report also reveals that in a one-month period 17% of people missed work because they were sleepy and 17% fell asleep on the job. In fact, productivity losses and costs associated with sick leave account for an estimated $32.5 billion annually in Australia.
When a staff member is sleep deprived, it’s not just excess yawning and a noticeable increase in coffee consumption that affects their work.
Not getting enough sleep also contributes to:
- Decreased communication levels
- Poor performance
- Increased distraction
- Driving impairments
- More mistakes
- Bad mood and
- Poor memory function
You might think there isn’t a lot you can do to improve the sleep of your workers, but you’d be surprised on how the management of the workplace can impact your staff after they have left for the day. Here are 5 things you can implement tomorrow to improve staff wellbeing and your bottom line.
5 Simple Changes You Can Make To Help Your Employees Sleep More
1. Wellness Programs
Many workplaces now have wellness programs emphasising the importance of nutrition, exercise, and sleep. It could simply involve getting a nutritionist in to discuss food choices, a sleep consultant to discuss sleep disordered breathing or a walking meeting in a local park.
2. Set Boundaries
Encourage employees to go home on time. Some companies have been known to switch off servers after a certain time. Matter of fact one Dutch company devised a way to make desks disappear after 6 pm.
While these examples may not be possible, there are many other ways to create boundaries. Putting a limit on overtime hours, checking in with staff and helping them re-prioritise tasks, or even assigning one day a week as a ‘Go Home On Time’ day can make a big difference.
3. Let Staff Unplug
Do you really need to send that late night email to your employees? Let your staff unplug by sending it the first thing in the morning instead. Unless your employees are required to work late, don’t make demands on them after hours.
4. Lighten Their Load
It's time to ask yourself if your staff's workload is manageable within their working hours. Or, get an efficiency expert in to assess what could be done differently in the workplace.
5. Encourage Sleep Deprived Employees To Seek Help
If an employee is suffering from insomnia, sleep disordered breathing, anxiety or illness, there’s not a lot you can do other than to encourage them to visit their doctor. Even just one hour of extra sleep can make a big difference to staff output. Happier, healthier employees means a happier, healthier bottom line.
Reynolds, A. C., Appleton, S. L., Gill, T. K., Taylor, A. W., McEvoy, D, Ferguson, S. A., Adams, R. J., Sickness absenteeism is associated with sleep problems independent of sleep disorders: Results of the 2016 Sleep Health Foundation national survey, Sleep Health, Volume 3, Issue 5, October 2017, pp. 357-361. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2017.06.003