The Financial Times yesterday published an opinion piece by a senior economist at Rand Europe, a not for profit research institute that helps to improve policy and decision making through research and analysis.
The economist noted that the UK has a productivity problem and that the government is attempting to address it by pumping money into a national productivity investment fund to improve the efficiency of the country’s workforce.
Yet the economist’s belief is that the UK’s problem could have a much more simple solution. Sleep!
Research from a Rand report shows people who sleep fewer than six hours a night are 2.4 per cent less productive than those who get between seven and nine hours.
Frequently we hear of successful businesspeople and CEO’s who are said to sleep on a just a couple hours a night. But are these same people just one in a million? Science confirms this. Just 1% of the global population are naturally short sleepers (6 or fewer hours). However, for everyone else, we need between 7 and 9 hours to be healthy.
As business owners, it is advised to reflect on two principal causes of productivity losses at work.
- Absenteeism – due to illness
- Presenteeism — due to people working but do not working to their full potential.
Both causes are often as a result of insufficient sleep, which could have even more serious consequences. The Rand research report shows that a person who sleeps less than 6 hours a night has a 13% higher mortality risk than one who sleeps between 7 and 9 hours.
As an employer what can you do to better support the sleep of your employees?
- Discourage excessive use of electronic devices outside work, or impose a cut-off time for work-related emails.
- Set realistic time pressures and deadlines to reduce employee stress.
- Consider flexible working to reduce commuting.
For further reading, please see our post on Mental Health