Amy Tomlinson, Head of HR at MetLife, discusses the impact that poor sleep can have on employee’s productivity and what employers can do to help promote the importance of a good night’s sleep.
Amy Tomlinson, Head of HR at MetLife, comments: “March marks National Bed Month, a great time for employers to promote the importance of a good night’s sleep to their employees. The past twelve months have put us all under significant amounts of stress which can have a big impact on not just our sleeping patterns but also the quality of our sleep. The pandemic has also re-shaped the employer-employee relationship with the expectation that employers will take a greater role in employee’s personal lives and support their mental health outside of work too. Research from our Re:Me report found that 71% of employees feel that companies have a social responsibility to their staff, including an increased role in their welfare, wellbeing and overall happiness.
“Encouraging better sleep is just one way that employers can support their employees. Poor sleep can leave employees more susceptible to burnout, falling productivity and in some cases long periods of absence from work, so it’s important that employers educate their staff on properly resting, encourage them to take regular breaks and establish good sleep habits.”
Four tips on how employers can promote good sleep habits
- Promote time away from technology: Working from home can make it much easier to be ‘always on’. Just answering a couple of emails can soon turn into scheduling calls out of hours. Set a good example internally by promoting regular computer screen breaks and discourage people from working out of hours. Staring at a computer screen for too long increases the risk of eye strain and using electronics at night can contribute to sleeping problems. Rather than logging on first thing, employees should use it as a good time to go for a walk or take some exercise.
- Offer lunchtime mindfulness activities: Yoga and meditation are great mindfulness activities that help to promote relaxation. Half an hour of mindfulness at lunchtime can give employees a healthy way to decompress and the tools to combat anxiety. Stress and anxiety are often linked to sleeping problems, but mindfulness practises are a great way to alleviate symptoms.
- Invest in employee perks that encourage sleep: Apps such as Headspace and Calm are good tools that can be used to get a better night’s sleep. If possible, employers should provide employees with paid for subscriptions to these services as a work perk through their benefits programme. Investing in sleeping tools shows your employees that you value their wellbeing and also that you understand that the current situation may be having a greater impact on their mental health than usual. It is also a good opportunity to remind employees of any Employee Assistance Programmes they have and how to access them to help better cope with any worries they may be having by seeking support.
- Encourage staff to take regular days off to recharge: The majority of us have been reluctant to book holiday for the past year, faced with not being able to go further than your living room can feel like a waste of a day off. But time away from the office – or kitchen table – is crucial for employees physical and mental health. Encourage staff to regularly take a day or two off to properly re-charge. This will leave employees feeling more refreshed and much more engaged once they come back and avoid teams burning out. Getting them to think how they space their holiday out throughout the year can also help give them something to look forward to.
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