In our hectic modern-day society, employee exhaustion has quickly become a leading problem, rife amongst UK businesses. A lack of sleep amongst employees will always lead to a reduction in their overall performance at work, which in turn, may lead to an increase in stress keeping them up at night for even longer. It’s a vicious circle. As a diligent employer, you need to be mindful that a failure to tackle tiredness in the work place can quickly spiral into a far bigger problem which could prove detrimental to your business’ overall growth and success:
According to The Health & Safety Executive tiredness is said to cost UK business’ £115 - £240 million per year in fatigue induced work accidents.
The NHS claims that one in 3 of us suffers from poor sleep, with stress, computers and taking work home at the end of the working day often to blame.
The recommended amount of sleep we need is 7-8 hours per night; even just missing out on one hour’s sleep each night totals up to be an entire night’s worth of sleep lost over a week-long period.
As an employer, there are a number of simple but impactful things you can do to help your staff tackle their tiredness and mental fatigue and boost productivity within your business:
1. Start The Conversation - check-up on your employees
Whether they're visibly struggling or even if they seem to be okay, ask your staff how they're coping. Bear in mind that lateness and low productivity may be signs of exhaustion rather than just laziness. Talking through problems almost always helps, but staff members may be embarrassed to come to you with their worries and won’t always be forthcoming. So, starting up the conversation yourself, in a quiet place away from others, is very important.
If a staff member is struggling, come up with a plan to help them. Give yourself and employees a proper chance to socialise by organising events outside of work: barbeques, meals out, quiz nights, or even just a casual evening at the pub. Providing your employees with an easy opportunity to bond helps to boost a friendly and supportive atmosphere within the workplace, and social events give your staff members a great opportunity to unwind and relax.
2. Educate staff on the importance of a good night's sleep
All too often people prioritise getting their work done over a good night’s rest, however there are a number of negative impacts to our physical and mental health that a lack of sleep causes. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has linked sleep deprivation to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, as well as obesity. A lack of sleep can also increase depression and anxiety and make us more susceptible to stress in general.
There are a number of simple ways in which we can get a better night’s sleep:
- Take a hot bath
- Stay away from screens and gadgets before bed
- Increase exposure to natural day light wherever possible
Our bodies have a natural clock, known as our circadian rhythm; lack of exposure to daylight can confuse our natural body clock, leaving us struggling to sleep at night and feeling lethargic throughout the day. Consequently, try to allow as much daylight into your workplace as possible, or encourage employees to take a brisk stroll after they have eaten lunch. Posters in the workplace, a friendly email or quick meeting can also increase awareness of the risks of sleep deprivation and offer effective ways to tackle it.
3. Re-consider your staff's workload
Are you understaffed? Could tasks be redistributed more fairly? Asking yourself these questions every so often is an important way of ensuring that members of your team are not being overloaded with work.
Having too much on their plate can make your employees overly stressed and thus underproductive. Taking work home, as stated on the NHS website, can keep employees up at night with worry. Review the workload of each of your employees regularly to be sure that it is a manageable load and that it is spread as evenly as possible between staff members. If appropriate, an occasional questionnaire could be sent round to check how well your employees are coping with their workloads. Make it clear to employees that they should come to you if they are feeling overwhelmed.
4. Encourage your staff to take a proper lunch break
Eating at regular intervals throughout the day is vital to maintaining proper energy levels and taking a break from work is an important way to destress, unwind and let the brain recharge itself. Make sure all your staff members take time off from their work day to rest and have something to eat. If necessary, put in place a lunch rota to make sure everyone gets a chance to relax and encourage staff not to work through their lunch break.
Nutritionist Resource states that poor nutrition may itself be a factor leading to feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Posters in the lunchroom can raise awareness of the importance of healthy eating and encourage your employees to make nutritious meal choices: without particular vitamins and minerals, iron being particularly important, especially for women, our bodies are left struggling for energy. Having plenty of fluids throughout the day is also important to avoid headaches and brain fog, so try to have teas, coffee and cold drinks available, and easily accessible, for your staff.
5. Lead by example
If your employees see you overloading yourself with work and in an overwhelmed state of constant stress they will likely assume that the same overly high standard is expected of them. Create a positive atmosphere within the workplace by setting a steady but productive example of how tasks should be completed. Let your employees see you come into work each day calm. A relaxed and positive workplace atmosphere will reduce stress and tiredness and will improve staff wellbeing and output.
If you found this article interesting or useful you might also want to consider reading 4 Tips For Profitable Hiring Practices from Successful Entrepenurs to further improve your work-force.