Sleep as a Strategic Resource

When work demands are high, people can become stressed, “burned out” and generally fatigued — resulting in compromised performance.

Simple as it sounds, regular sleep is the best antidote for a fatigued or stressed-out workforce. Of course, because sleep is in the realm of employees’ private lives, organizations have generally shied away from trying to influence it, even in an era of controlling health-care costs through encouraging preventive behaviors.

Sleep deprivation can lead to lower levels of effort, lower levels of interpersonal helping behavior and a higher prevalence of unethical and deviant behaviors. Moreover, a lack of sleep leads to lower levels of trust and cooperation in negotiation processes.

Similarly, sleep deprivation hinders multitasking performance: Sleepy people have a harder time focusing on a particular task, and performance suffers across all tasks being juggled. In addition, a lack of sleep has been linked to a higher prevalence of workplace injuries, as well as greater injury severity.

Given how important it is for companies to control health-care costs, it is also important to reiterate the link between good sleep patterns and health.

Create a work culture that values sleep. Better sleep habits are likely to follow when employees feel some separation from work at the end of the day. Practices such as managing work schedules, providing good role models and reinforcing sleep-protecting behaviors can help companies move in the right direction.

Summing-up: Sleep is a strategic resource that is a key to human sustainability. Rather than taking an employee’s sleep as a given, leaders should create sleep-supportive cultures and practices.

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