Article: Sleep-deprived employees: Organizations must ensure work-life balance

Life @ Work

Sleep-deprived employees: Organizations must ensure work-life balance

Today is World Mental Health Day, and looking at the wellness of the employees, we trace back how sleep is an important aspect of mental well-being and why employers must ensure work-life harmony for better productivity for employees and organizations.
Sleep-deprived employees: Organizations must ensure work-life balance

The statistics In India indicate a scary picture when it comes to the average employee sleep pattern at the workplace. According to Times of India, 2015 on the impact of productivity, 58% of Indians believe their work suffers due to inadequate sleep, whereas 38% have witnessed a colleague falling asleep at work, with 63% Americans reporting that their sleep needs aren’t met during the week. Sleep deprivation is a societal epidemic that exists across all economic statuses. According to data collected by Fitbit from January to December 2016, the statistics show that most Indians sleep around 6:55 hours or less, which puts Indians second on the list of sleep-deprived people after the Japanese who sleep around 6:35 hours a day.  

A case in point is the death of Ranjan Das (CEO) of SAP in India, in 2013. He was 42-years, a fitness freak who was subject to abnormal stress and slept for 4-5 hours a day.  It is important to understand that sleep and stress have a strong impact on each other; the interaction between the two can cost an individual’s life.

Sleep is an important biological activity which is utmost important for the healthy functioning of the human body. Yet most people fail to realize the importance of sleep and treat sleep as a luxury rather than a necessity.  

In an interesting article by Larry Alton which was featured in the Forbes in 2017, he had mentioned that “Compared to other generational groupings, millennials are doing well in terms of the number of total hours slept. Generation X members appear to be the worst. However, millennials are also reporting higher levels of stress, casting some doubt on the true quality of the sleep they’re getting”. 

It is true that millennials have different work patterns and according to studies higher sleep quantity, but can we assure that they have a higher sleep quality too? 

It is very important for people especially employers and employees to understand that getting less sleep does not make them productive but sick, which they would realize sooner or later. Enough research has been done to show that poor sleep habits affect one’s personal and professional lives. 

Research has shown that sleep-deprived brains lose the ability to make accurate judgments. That, in turn, can lead to irrational and unjustified claims such as “I do not need sleep” or “I’m doing fine with a couple of hours of sleep.” Survey reports of executives demonstrate how many of them remain in denial on this point. 

According to Philips Healthcare Survey in 2015, 93% Indians are sleep deprived; this is a warning for us to correct our lifestyles and make necessary changes to be both fit and productive.

With technology being the new best friend and sleep the enemy for most, sleeping hours are reducing at an alarming rate. It is known that poor sleeping habits leads to lesser productivity, creativity and overall irritability also increases which interferes with one’s work at the workplace and at home . However, we still hear people boasting that they can make do with less or no sleep. With poor sleeping habits on the rise, presentism and absenteeism are of the many workplace problems that employers currently deal with at the workplace. 

There are corporate wellness programs that are practised by some companies such as Wipro, TCS, and L&T but for most it is only in paper. A good night’s sleep is of utmost importance to an employee’s health. Studies have shown that good night’s sleep leads to an individual waking up refreshed and being much more productive at the workplace, creative, not facing difficulty decision making or judgements and also helps in maintaining a god rapport with colleagues  and a enhances pro-active behaviour as it lessens irritability.

However, it is high time employers start investing in employee’s health and ensuring they are healthy, which also includes good sleeping habits. It is a boon not just for the employee’s health but also for the employer’s to have healthier employees who work hard and have happy dispositions. 


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Topics: Life @ Work, Corporate Wellness Programs

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