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1 in 3 Workers Have Fallen Asleep on the Job

How are you feeling today? If you said, "sleepy," you're not alone. In fact, one survey found that 31 percent of human resource leaders have seen or heard about a worker falling asleep on the job. The cost to companies is obvious – $63.2 billion in lost productivity due solely to insomnia – but if you're among those sleep-deprived workers, you're probably more concerned about the fact that all that lost sleep is impacting you personally and professionally.

How are you feeling today? If you said, “sleepy,” you’re not alone. In fact, one survey found that 31 percent of human resource leaders have seen or heard about a worker falling asleep on the job. The cost to companies is obvious – $63.2 billion in lost productivity due solely to insomnia – but if you’re among those sleep-deprived workers, you’re probably more concerned about the fact that all that lost sleep is impacting you personally and professionally.

asleep on the job 

(Photo Credit: Harry Potts/Flickr)

The Ceridian LifeWorks survey, called Workplace Wake-Up Call: Pulling Back the Covers on Sleep Deficiency, asked 696 HR professionals at small, mid-sized, and large companies across industries to answer questions online about their perception of their workers’ relationship to sleep. The survey was conducted between July 9 and July 23, 2014, in North America.

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Among the highlights:

  • 35 percent of those surveyed said that sleep deficiency had affected productivity.
  • 21 percent said that their company’s work schedules went against “the natural human circadian rhythms.”
  • 60 percent said that their company did not offer tools to help promote healthy sleep habits, e.g. rules related to checking email after hours, nap rooms at the office, or sleep disorder screening programs.
  • Of the companies that did offer healthy-sleep tools and policies, 12 percent had guidelines for after-hours work, 9 percent had rules for checking devices after hours, 9 percent had nap rooms, 5 percent had policies to help international business travelers deal with jet lag, and 3 percent had sleep-disorder screening programs.

Of course, the best way to combat these issues is for companies to institute policies that support healthy sleep habits. That means not asking workers to check their emails after hours, either by direct mandate or by making it impossible to get work done during the day. (In other words, ideally your boss would ask herself, “Is this meeting really necessary?” – before blocking off the hours in Outlook.) Nap rooms and screening programs are nice, but most of us would settle for being able to unplug at a reasonable hour and get some shuteye.

Short of a major culture change at your office, your options are somewhat limited. But, you can do your part to improve the situation by resisting the slow creep of work into after-hours. In other words, if the boss isn’t demanding email check-ins at 11 p.m., don’t get into the habit of doing it anyway – and if he is, think about beginning a search for a job that doesn’t ask workers to break their health and sacrifice real productivity for a false ideal of worker dedication.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever fallen asleep on the job? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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