Despite an increased awareness of employee wellbeing, it isn’t widely acknowledged as a way to plug the productivity slump the UK has been sleepwalking into as of late.
Yet, with over three-quarters (77%) of UK employees admitting that having a bad night’s sleep negatively impacts their working day, with a further 74.5% citing workplace stress as a cause of their disrupted sleep – we need to wake up and smell the facts.
The research by CV-Library, conducted with input from Sleep Neuroscientist, Professor Jim Horne, found that a lack of sleep and workplace stress is impacting UK workers performance, with just under a third (27%) saying that they feel exhausted every day.
Just over one quarter (26.1%) said they get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, with most (56.8%) getting just 5-7 hours. The research found that sleep deprivation is most likely to affect an employee’s ability to stay focused (72.7%) as well as their ability to deal with challenging situations (46.5%) and make important decisions (34.2%).
Professor Jim Horne, comments: “Most work situations require individuals to make critical decisions, remain focussed and complete tasks within a timely and efficient manner. However, it’s clear from these findings that sleep loss can impair attention to detail amongst workers. The longer a person is awake, the more likely their mood is to be negatively affected, as well as their willingness to take risks in the workplace. Again, this could be cause for concern.”
The study found that individuals that work outdoors receive the longest amount of sleep each night (33.7% received 7-8 hours) and were the most likely to have a good quality of sleep. Managers were the most likely to rarely sleep well at night, as well as being the most likely to reference workplace stress as their main cause for sleep deprivation.
Whilst employers can’t control the amount of shut-eye their staff get, they can negate the impact of stress, by encouraging better mental wellbeing. Karen Penny, Vice President and General Manager, American Express GCP UK, tells us how employers can offer support. ‘’Businesses should begin by focusing on helping leaders identify when people are showing signs of poor mental health, including anxiety or stress,” she says. “The best way of doing this is through training. By equipping managers to spot warning signs in their colleagues early on, businesses are better able to ensure employees get the support they need sooner.
“Support for mental health initiatives has traditionally fallen to HR; I think it’s important that we take more of this work into the business, helping leaders understand what the company can do in this area, and making them better placed to support the employees they are responsible for.’’
If you want to take this emphasis on wellbeing a step further, you could incentivise sleep. One start-up has introduced a controversial policy, where employees receive cash rewards for practicing a healthy lifestyle. Find out more, here.