Sleep – Is it really that important?

Sleep – Is it really that important?

For our #wellnesswednesday insight this week, we are focusing on the importance of sleep.

Last month, HR news  published an article which looked at sleep problems. There where some very interesting facts.

1. the UK loses 200,000 working days a year to absenteeism caused by lack of sleep. Not to mention the accidents, mistakes and impaired productivity that employees suffer when they do show up to work.
2. According to a recent study, Britons get just over six hours sleep per night – as opposed to the recommended eight hours per night. In fact, nearly a third of people in the UK have sleep problems – which equates to as many as 16 million adults.

So what does this mean for employers?

After reading a great article by Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director, Business in the Community, in a report by REBA (Reward & Employee Benefits Association), we started to take a little more notice of the importance of good sleep in the workplace. (2)

Louise Aston believes that;

“it’s time for business to wake up to the importance of sleep. Sleep is fundamental to health – as important as food.”

She highlighted the findings of the inaugural Sainsbury’s Living Well Index, published in 2017 and based on a study of 8,250 adults across Great Britain, which revealed sleep quality as the strongest indicator of living well. She believes that it is therefore in employers’ interests to promote the importance of sufficient high-quality sleep to their employees. Business in the Community has published Sleep and recovery: a toolkit for employers, co-produced with Public Health England (PHE) – which gives some very insightful information for employers.

Louise reported that lost sleep can cost businesses up to £30bn a year. Sleep deprivation can also carry risks for all employers: it can compromise safety and lead to potential fatalities, it can cause loss of cognitive function resulting in poor decision-making, and it can lead to general grumpiness that can damage customer service and relationships with colleagues.

So what can employers do to promote sufficient high-quality sleep to their employees?

The Business in the Community toolkit sets out a three-pronged approach:
1. Prevention: this includes good job design and promoting good sleep hygiene (creating the right conditions for a good night’s sleep).
2. Early intervention: including training for line managers on how to spot the signs of fatigue and on having difficult conversations.
3. Active rehabilitation: for example, reinforcing the need to take holiday entitlement. As sleep emerges as a hot topic for employer, we need to fundamentally change our attitudes to it. It is not OK to expect employees to be available around the clock and think of sleep deprivation as an unavoidable occupational hazard.

Know the signs!

Be vigilant and look out for telltale signs of sleep issues (and educate your line managers to do the same). These are signs such as a change in performance, more emotional behaviour, weight changes, high consumption of caffeine and under eye bags and dark circles. If you spot an employee with these issues, ask if they are OK.

As part of our commitment to the team here at Pursuit Resources Group, and as part of our #wellnesswednesday campaign, we delivered a small package of things to all our team to promote a good nights sleep. We included a small bunch of Lavender, some chamomile tea, and a facemask to help them relax tonight after one of our busiest days of the week. We want to ensure we are reminding the team that their wellbeing is important to us.

Pursuit Resources Group are an established recruitment agency based in the heart of Essex. Our team of experienced consultants and managers provide a transparent recruitment experience for our clients that many will say is unrivaled locally. If you would be interested in talking to us in more detail about how we can help with your recruitment needs please do not hesitate to contact us on 01245 362500.

References:

Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director, Business in the Community • The toolkit is available at https://wellbeing.bitc.org.uk/all-resources/toolkits/sleep-and-recovery-toolkit
(2)Employee Wellbeing Research 2018 – published last year by REC (Recruitment Employment Confederation)