If you work in a company right now, chances are you’re a part of the cult of sleep deprivation. There’s something honourable about sacrificing your sleep to chase down your goals. You look at someone with bloodshot eyes on their fifth cup of coffee before 10 am and remember how they’ve stayed after hours every night that week to get the job done. You feel proud of them. They’ve got grit and determination. They’re taking their job seriously. Right?!
Wait a second! They’re also costing your company money.
Science tells us again and again, so often that we’ve grown deaf to it. Sleep disturbance increases the risk of cancer, depression and heart problems. It decreases productivity, inhibits workplace performance and degrades job performance and productivity. It also makes people more susceptible to accidents or illnesses.
Research also shows that sleep deprivation can hurt your relationships. It reduces your capacity as a leader and leads to more arguments and tension.
So you may look at those overtired employees—or you may look in the mirror—and respect the sacrifice of sleep. In reality, you’re actually paying the price in unproductive hours, sick leave and health care costs.
In a “cult of sleep deprivation”, it’s almost a badge of honour to have only gotten four hours of zzz’s last night. As a leader, it’s your job to shift the paradigm and set the example of respect for healthy habits. Just as companies incentivise good health by providing health screenings, nutrition education, healthy snacks and other programmes. It’s also worthwhile to encourage positive sleep habits.
Educate Your Employees
Bad things happen when people are chronically sleep deprived. Talk to your employees about the impact of not enough eyes shut at night not just on their productivity and health at work. Look also at their personal lives and longevity. Chronic sleep loss leaves people vulnerable to many life-threatening factors such as disease, accidents and simply a shortened lifespan. Make sure your employees understand and value sleep.
Focus on Efficient Work
It is a persistent myth that more work is better work. If you have sleep-deprived employees negotiating important contracts or operating heavy machinery, it’s only a matter of time before something unfortunate happens. Even if nothing does, you’re still losing money on their inefficient work. On the other hand, good sleep leads to positive well-being which leads to more productivity. Being more productive makes people feel good which leads to better night rest. It’s a virtuous cycle. Companies should be looking to get the most out of their employees through efficiencies, not through longer hours.
Set the Example
If you agree that sleep is not only beneficial, but also essential, you’re on the right track. If you think these benefits are meant for other people, you need to think again. The most important influencer of company culture is its leaders. You can create a culture that respects healthy choices including good sleep. But you have to start with yourself. Give yourself a week of prioritising sleep and see how things change.
No matter how hard we try to ignore it, science continues to tell us that sleep is a survival need of the human race. You can only benefit your company by focusing on it for yourself and your employees.
Could your company benefit from a holistic and sustainable well-being program? Yes, but you don’t have the resources to organise and maintain it? Contact us. We work with small to mid-sized companies to fill in the gaps in your forward-looking programmes while staying within your organisation’s budget.