Companies across Australia suffered productivity losses of $17.9 billion over the 2016-17 financial year due to their employees not getting enough sleep, according to a report by the Sleep Health Foundation and Deloitte.
The cost implications of tired employees to Australian businesses are enormous. In this article, we delve a little deeper into these findings and explain what you can do about it with a few key strategies and employee engagement solutions.
How many Australians are tired – and why?
You might think your office doesn't have a problem with fatigue, but the Sleep Health Foundation begs to differ. The report mentioned above found 39.8 per cent of Australians don't get enough sleep. Considering this, there's a very good chance a large number of your employees are sleep-deprived.
The reasons for this are multi-faceted. Lack of sleep can be caused by conditions such as insomnia and other sleeping disorders. However, sleep deprivation can occur not only as a result of health issues and other external circumstances, but due to workplace factors such as:
- Shift work and a lack of time for sleep between shifts
- Early or late shifts
- Extended hours of work
- Job design
- Working multiple jobs
What are the costs of employee fatigue to Australian businesses?
The effects of fatigue shouldn't be understated. Monash University found almost 10,000 serious workplace injuries are caused by low levels of alertness every year. Injured workers, particularly those in physically-demanding jobs, cost your business money each day they're unable to work.
Even in non-physically demanding jobs, employee fatigue affects the ability of your workers to get things done at a normal rate. Higher rates of absenteeism and presenteeism caused by tired staff equates to:
- Reduced working days
- Lower productivity
- Decreased employee engagement
How can you reduce employee fatigue?
You can't force your staff to sleep, but you can take certain steps to help ensure they are as alert and productive as possible:
1. Train your employees
Help them become aware of how to recognise instances of fatigue, and how to act when the symptoms arise. Get an external expert (like us!) to come in and deliver workshops that will educate your staff on the best tactics to deal with tiredness.
2. Use risk scoring
Risk scoring helps you monitor scheduling and ensure tired employees won't be rostered on to work. This is particularly important in industries that require shift work, which can significantly affect employee sleeping patterns.
3. Roster mindfully
Shift work can be a massive cause of fatigue in employees, but the method of rostering you use can minimise how tired staff are when they're on the job. Work Cover Tasmania suggests the following rostering tactics:
- Provide for a continuous seven to eight hours of sleep in each 24 hours.
- Ensure workers aren't working more than four consecutive night shifts.
- Roster a minimum of 12 hours between consecutive shifts.
- Allow your staff to take short naps of 15-20 minutes during their shift if appropriate.
4. Introduce flexible working hours
Work-life balance is vital for maintaining employee wellbeing, and flexible working hours can help significantly with reducing the effects of fatigue. If your workplace is a typical office environment, let early birds come into work early and leave mid-afternoon, and allow night owls to work at times when they are most productive. New parents will also find their sleeping patterns change, and offering flexible working hours will benefit their alertness levels – and your business in the long run.
Employee fatigue affects your bottom line, but there are ways to get on top of it. SeventeenHundred can help, with consulting services, along with workshops on health and wellbeing, work-life balance strategies and much more. Get in touch to find out how we can help you help your employees to lead happy and healthy lives.