Cost of Sleep Deprivation

Bullying, over work, being a parent, family problems, an important presentation, performance review, redundancy, lack of self-esteem, guilt, buying a house, menopause, chronic health conditions lie back pain, fibromyalgia, tinnitus, depression, relationship problems, addiction….There are so many reasons so many of us cannot manage to get any sleep at night, never mind the meagre amount that the average UK worker makes do with. And then we have to rise, slap on our game face and perform as if nothing has happened.

Given the fact that sleeplessness or sleep deprivation are such common occurrences last time I was sitting up at a freezing two in the morning with panic attack number twenty one I found myself wondering how many organisations factor this problem into their work productivity model, allow for it when forecasting targets?

And then I wondered what would happen if businesses took an ethical stand to sleep deprivation, recognised the ‘cost’ of how it might affect performance and adjust expectation and outcome accordingly? To assume we will all be fully rested all the time, it seems to me, is to take a short sighted and unrealistic view of employee wellbeing. It is potentially harmful to business productivity and definitely harmful to employee health. And when a higher up is noticing a sleepless colleague and berating them for ‘effecting the business’ they are actually creating conditions to make the situation worse for that person and for the business.

Now multiply this negative mind set across a number of businesses across the country and calculate the overall effect on UK workforce output. Or let’s say sleep deprived people get let go for not managing their role. If an employee is moved on from business to business because they cannot meet job expectations each new employer is faced with the same dilemma if they also do not make provision or factor in what that employee is able to do. The worst-case scenario is that the person themselves becomes unemployable during the period of time they are not sleeping, creating a negative knock on effect to their mental and emotional wellbeing but also stopping them from being a skilful member of the UK workforce. 

If we aggregated all the UK employees being mistreated/neglected/bullied/passed over/let go because management and higher ups are not being making the right provision for their condition, then it would be interesting to see just how much productivity of all business within the UK are suffering and not just the one business who is fed up with George on packed meats in Aisle 3. In fact, it kind of begs the conclusion that managers might do well to be trained in creative thinking for how to redeploy workload when a sleep deprived person is able to come to work, do rather than insisting on them completing workload they will never be able to manage.

Therefore, there must be a change of expectation in terms of CEO’s and managers regarding those living with significant sleep deprivation. Only when we can do this can we begin to provide adequate support and thereby improve performance as a UK workforce overall.

Anyone up for that?

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