Virgin Active recently surveyed UK adults, asking them what they felt they’re not getting enough of. Some of the most common responses were silly (cheese), some obvious (salary), and some thought-provoking (respect).
But the #1 response stands out. It’s probably something you feel you don’t get enough of. Sleep. In the UK, the average adult gets between 6.28 and 6.36 hours a night. Given that the NHS recommends between six and nine hours a night, that simply isn’t enough!
When you’re sleep-deprived, your attention, performance and moods suffer. It’s hard to concentrate on working your best when you’re grumpy with tiredness. But there are even more dire consequences—a lack of sleep shortens your life expectancy.
So, what can you do, when you notice your staff yawning, blinking slowly and getting through three cups of coffee an hour?
A good start would be to allow flexible working hours. The school run can be a sleep-killer—offering an hour’s later start time could mean the world of difference to a harassed parent. Ensure that this flexibility is within reason, of course—organise a rota, and introduce a formal process to request flexible working time.
Make sure your staff aren’t taking on too much—the stress of knowing there are a thousand tasks to complete tomorrow can keep people awake all night. Talk to them about delegating tasks, make sure cover is available so they can take time off for themselves, and ensure their tasks can be completed in normal working time. Their sleep pattern will thank you.
Allow remote working
Cutting out the commute can add two hours to the days of some workers. While there are countless things that you could do with a whole extra 120 minutes, grabbing a little more sleep will benefit everyone. Allowing people to work from home once or twice a week will definitely be welcomed. Make sure you cover the risks associated with working from home—tighten your security policies, use a secure VPN and encrypt all your communications.
Provide some healthy snacks in your office. People tend to rely on caffeine and sugar to get through a day when they’ve not slept enough and, while that can work in the short-term, a couple of hours later their productivity will crater. Fresh fruit, cold filtered water and slow-release energy bars are great for getting people feeling awake and ready to work.
Create and display promotional materials around your workplace. Posters listing the benefits of a good sleep schedule—rather than the negative effects of a bad one—can be encouraging. Emphasise the positives of good sleep; reducing risk, reducing health issues and creating a more pleasant environment for everyone.
An internal newsletter distributed via email with hints and tips on sleep—as well as general wellbeing—can inform and educate. It’s a great way to promote sleep support measures, and make sure employees are fully aware of the steps you’re taking to make positive changes
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