We’ve all dealt with an employee or co-worker who isn’t sleeping well. Chances are good that this person will be less productive, crankier and generally a bear to deal with compared to their usual sunny selves.
It’s easy to come down hard on this person, ignore them or treat them no differently than normal. A recent National Geographic article suggests you try another approach: Talking to them about it.
The science of sleep is a a difficult and underappreciated science. Researchers do not entirely understand how sleep works or why human beings need it, but they know the effects of too little sleep. Going 24 hours without sleep or a week with only five hours of sleep a night, according to one study, results in impairment equal to a .10 blood alcohol content. Essentially, getting too little sleep turns you into an irritable drunk.
The problem is that in today’s America, crazy long hours and impossible-to-sustain work ethics are fast becoming the norm. In our efforts to become as productive and hard-working as possible, we are losing sleep. According to several studies conducted in the last decade, lack of sleep actually leads to less productivity, not more. Ultimately, by encouraging your employees to keep up their breakneck pace through their exhaustion, you are getting less out of them and potentially wearing them out to the point where they get sick. That’s a huge loss in productivity.
So instead, talk to them about it. I’m not telling you to coddle anyone, just to get at the root of their lack of sleep and figure out a way to keep them productive. If it means condensing their workday once a week, giving them access to a counselor to deal with whatever home issues are weighing them down or simply having a productive conversation about how they can get more sleep and not make office life as unpleasant as everyone else.
It takes a willingness to engage and perhaps get your employees to ease off the throttle a bit, but ultimately it works out for the best. How do you deal with sleeplessness?
Photo credit to iStock