Employee well-being is a huge area, with so many different aspects to be considered. After all, each person is different and thus so are their lives and therefore their needs.
So it’s unsurprising that every week there seems to be a new concern in the workplace, debating whether employees are truly being appreciated and their well-being cared for. For instance a few weeks ago we were arguing whether tattoos should be more accepted in the workplace.
The hot topic of this week seems to be sleep, or rather the lack of it.
From CEOs paying their employees bonuses for getting their seven hours a night, to companies encouraging their employees to nap at work, getting in enough Zs is currently a big well-being worry.
But, this is where I feel conflicted. Yes, sleep is super important, it’s a time for our memory to take stock, so we can remember all those clients’ names and faces, the things we need to do tomorrow, and that really great idea you had in the shower. And it’s also a time for healing, for our bodies to do a little rejuvenation. In fact, seven hours of sleep each night can reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease and breast cancer.
But, how stressed out would you feel if someone said you weren’t getting enough sleep so therefore your chances of gaining weight and dying young were higher? And how about if they said you’d miss out on a £350 a year bonus if you didn’t change?
As someone who has struggled to get enough sleep each night since birth I find the idea of being pressured and bribed into sleeping a really worrying prospect. The only good way to sleep is to be able to completely switch off and relax, people can’t be bought into sleeping more, can they?
Actually, a recent study would argue that you can’t, finding that work stress is causing our poor sleeping habits. So, if you really want to increase your employees sleep and their well-being perhaps we need to think about how to tackle their workload and stress first.
I worry that, if companies are opting for cash incentives or worse, scare tactics, to get their employees to sleep more – it could have the opposite effect. I totally get why they’re so concerned, sleeping more will improve health and therefore reduce the cost of absence, which stands at around £29billion per year in the UK, and can also increase employees’ focus and well-being, so it’s a win-win. But, when thinking about trying to help increase employee sleep, I would say that worry isn’t the emotion you want to evoke.