Sleep deprivation runs rampant

Everyone is sleepy, but your firm may be making it worse
By Carolyn Schur
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/29/2004

We live in a time-starved and sleep-deprived society. People face an overwhelming number of demands on personal and professional time, and, to deal with it, sacrifice that which is believed to be of little value — sleep. As a result, fatigue, absenteeism and poor performance are now as common among daytime employees as they are with shift workers and late-night staff. For HR professionals, it makes sense to provide assistance to nine-to-five employees to help them overcome fatigue and stay alert on the job.

The question is: How to achieve optimum alertness to ensure safety and productivity?

For starters, sleepiness in the workplace needs to be accepted as a fact of life. Many managers abdicate responsibility by ignoring sleepiness when they see it. This sets the stage for accidents and injuries. Other managers go to the other extreme by setting strict no-sleeping-on-the-job policies. What that policy encourages, however, is hiding. Employees know they cannot overcome their need for sleep so they find ways to get some sleep in spite of the policy.