Why My Staff Are Asleep On The Job

Well, they work hard. And often long hours.

But the real reason they sleep in the office is because I’ve asked them to do it. I recently went to the workshop of Ahna de Vena, a sleep expert and was surprised by how much I learnt. Most people need 7.5 hours sleep a night no negotiation. Only 3% of people need a bit more and only 3% of people can function optimally on less. The long term affects of not getting 7.5 hours is staggering. It affects every aspect of our health and our relationships.

So, I started researching sleep deprivation. The Sydney Morning Herald quotes that sleep deprivation is costing the Australian economy more than $66 billion in health bills, lost productivity and well-being. The Deloittes study found that 39.8% of Australians don’t get enough sleep. I was shocked when I read that 394 Australians die each year as a result of falling asleep at the wheel of a car or an industrial accident due to lack of sleep. It’s a shocking statistic but hopefully unlikely to happen to my employees. How can it be measured in a company like mine? Or yours?

I became more observant around the office and I could see signs of fatigue and stress that I hadn’t seen before.

My business is full of young parents – I don’t want them to own sleep deprivation but they’re obviously a high-risk group. Imagine them losing steam by the end of the day and then go home to their “real job”. I know because I’ve been there. Other staff are having other stress from home.

I started to hear the fatigue in the timbre of their voices by the middle of the afternoon. Hey is that one of my clients they’re on the phone to? Ouch. Many times I’ve rung companies and had to speak to Receptionists that just shouldn’t be the first contact point for any business.

Research shows that we are far more charged and productive after a nap – 20 minutes is the ideal. Some people go into a deeper sleep after 20 minutes and can’t recover from their grogginess. 20 minutes isn’t the deep part of the cycle so it’s easy to be alert immediately afterwards.

I can’t afford my Receptionists or any staff for that matter having that edge when they’re dealing with our clients, when they’re representing this business. It’s not just dealing with customers. How about my payroll staff? I want my staff to be fully productive and capable, making great decisions and performing quality work.

It was surprisingly hard to implement. People didn’t want to be slack in front of me or their colleagues. I rewarded them with a free day to spend with their family if they tried twice. Two naps during the day in the month and they get a free annual leave day off. What I’d really like to see them do is nap a few times a week, if not every day.

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