Most employers say that they care about their employees. But very few have the policies and procedures to prove it.
Companies need to make sure their employees are getting enough sleep.
Canadian employers lose an estimated $21 billion to sleep deprivation and lost productivity each year. Sleep deprivation is also a massive safety issue in the workplace, as a fatigued employee is 70% more likely to be involved in a workplace incident.
To help ensure that your employees are getting the rest they need, here are a few things you can do to encourage healthy sleep patterns.
Flexible Work Hours
Do your employees really need to be there at 9:00 am on the dot? Would they be more productive if they were allowed to show up at 10:30 am and work until 6:30 pm?
Life happens. Let's say a given employee is up late with a sick child. They don't get to bed until 2:00 am. Why not allow them to stay in bed for a few more hours to recover instead of having them rush to get to the office for 9:00 am on about five hours of sleep?
Give them the ability to give you their A-game.
Be Mindful of Shift Workers
Shift work disorder is a serious condition that comes from workers getting irregular and/or insufficient sleep. This is particularly problematic for factory workers or nurses.
Those who suffer from it often deal with:
Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
Low energy levels
Damaged personal lives
In extreme cases, their sleep-deprived bodies may even slip into microsleeps. They will involuntarily fall asleep for a few seconds and then quickly snap awake. This is obviously incredibly dangerous for the worker or anyone relying on their alertness.
Shift workers often struggle to sleep during the day because they're dealing with too much natural light or too much activity in the home. They may also try to do things like picking their kids up at school or running their errands during the day. Sleep gets pushed to the back burner, as they still want to feel like they have some sort of life.
As an employer, you need to make every effort to provide shift workers with consistent and predictable hours. This gives them a chance to build a routine and let their bodies get used to falling asleep at a given time. They can also build their social schedule around predictable hours, instead of always trying to fit things in on the fly.
Staying with the sick child example, standard (or encouraged) work-from-home days can help that tired parent stay in bed on their comfy PerfectSense Mattress and squeeze in a few more hours of much-needed sleep
Let them sleep through the time it would take to get ready for work and commute to the office. They will appreciate it and you will most likely get a far more productive day out of them.
We're seeing more and more employers offer wellness programs, which is amazing.
Consider making sure that your package offers a free (or discounted) gym membership to encourage employees to get regular exercise. An active lifestyle helps the body fall asleep naturally, with less reliance on drugs or alcohol to "unwind."
Mental Health Help
Is therapy, or help from other mental health professionals, covered by your health package?
Dealing with anxiety or depression can absolutely ravage your sleep patterns. Therapy and counselling can be expensive. Giving your employees financial assistance to get the help they need can make a massive difference.
This one might be a little bit too "new-agey" for you. However, nap spaces are a very real thing in today's workplace and some of the biggest companies in the world are firm believers in it.
Naps (about 20-30 minutes long) have been proven to refresh a given employee's mind, which helps them solve problems in less time and be more productive. They can recover from the 2 pm lull, instead of just slogging along through the rest of the day.
These are only a few of the things that employers can do to encourage healthier lifestyles and healthier sleep patterns. However, giving employees the freedom to work from home on their own schedule, while helping them to get more exercise and take care of their mental health will go a long way.
Don't just tell your employees that you value their health. Show them that you value it!