A new study of 1,123 workers by Willis Towers Watson (WTW) has revealed that tiredness is affecting productivity at work. 66% of British workers said that tiredness had a negative impact on their ability to work which then affects overall productivity levels.
They also found that 36% of workers were struggling to get a decent night’s sleep because of the stresses at work. Of those who have trouble getting to sleep, 55% said that it was because of the stress of a hard day’s’ work at the office. 45% said that job worries were the main reason for their sleeping problems, 41% said early starts and 35% said working late at night.
Mike Blake, a director at Willis Towers Watson said: “The work environment is no longer confined to the office, with the stress of heavy workloads creeping into home life. Whilst companies may benefit from a perceived ‘increase’ in productivity in the short-term, ongoing stress, coupled with lack of sleep, can risk having an overall negative impact on operational performance.
Only 17% of employers say that they proactively work with their employees to educate them on general wellbeing and the effects of losing sleep. This is despite 65% of workers saying that tiredness is a growing problem in the workplace and has been over the past five years.
Blake has highlighted that more companies could focus on employee health and wellbeing, using programmes to help with issues such as sleep deprivation. “Employers who become more attuned to the needs of their workers outside the office are more likely to retain a happy and healthy employee base.”
“Companies should aim to identify and tackle potential issues before they become a problem. Open dialogue is key to establishing a positive workplace culture that addresses and mitigates stress and fatigue. This will allow managers to identify dips in productivity and tackle the root causes before more serious issues arise, such as absenteeism and presenteeism.
“By placing an emphasis on the importance of sufficient sleep, workers will also feel more comfortable approaching managers about fatigue and solutions can be found, such as meditative practices, review of workloads or flexible working hours,” Blake added.
Tips for work fatigue
While lost sleep can be an indicator of a larger health problem, for a lot of people there are a few small changes that can improve the quality of your sleep.
Go to bed early
This is the most obvious one but plenty of people forget to do it. There’s no cheat or way around this, you need to get enough sleep and if you’ve got an early start, you need to go to bed early. You can try replacing sleep with caffeine but it’s not the same. You’ll still feel drowsy all day and not at your best.
Put down the caffeine
Some caffeine is fine but the more you rely on it, the less it works. Plus if you’re still chugging it well into the afternoon, you’re only going to make it harder to sleep and so the cycle continues. So try to cut caffeine, particularly later in the day. Save it for one or two in the morning and it’ll end up having more of an effect when you need it the most.
Get some exercise
Exercise is great for fatigue. It helps you feel tired enough to sleep but improves your energy levels overall. Exercise is also a great way to improve your mental health and lower stress levels which might be interfering with your sleep.
Go for a walk
Nowadays a lot of people have lunch at their desk meaning they spend even more time sitting in the same position all day. Try stretching your legs for a few minutes on lunch to wake yourself up and also take a step away from work stress.
Have a light lunch
Big lunches are much more likely to cause an energy crash in the afternoon. So opt for lighter lunches or small snacks throughout the day. Try not to rely on chocolate when energy levels drop because you’ll just crash. Instead choose foods that have slow-release energy that will help you remain fuller for longer.
Go to your doctor
If sleep is really becoming a problem, either you can’t get enough or are tired all the time despite making all the changes above, then a doctor might be better advised to help you. If you’re suffering from stress at work, this is going to impact your mental health and should be discussed with them.
Does a lack of sleep affect you or your workplace? Do employers have a responsibility to help with the sleep issues of their workers? Let us know your thoughts.