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Staff sickness and their sleeping habits

13-05-2015

Staff sickness and their sleeping habits

Managing staff is one of the trickiest things about running your own business. You can calculate everything else, but the human factor makes your staff one of the biggest unknowns in business. Just when you think everything is ticking along fine one of them goes through a messy breakup or gets sick. There is no way you can predict when these kind of things are going to happen. But as any good manager will tell you, while you cannot predict when these things will happen you can do everything in your power to be ready for them. That is what managing is all about.

Invest in your staff and they will invest in your company

Having staff get sick is all part of the job, humans get sick and there is no way you can stop this from happening, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot try to limit it. Yes, the best cure is prevention and more and more businesses are doing everything they can to try and limit staff sick days by making sure that there staff are as healthy as possible. You may have heard of the various innovations being put in place in businesses, things like breakfast bars and gyms. Well these are all good for the employees as they are seen as perks, but they are also fantastic for the company as they help make the staff more healthy and this reduces sick days. In the long term, investing in your staff’s health is an investment in your business. You not only get healthy staff who are sick less but you also get a boosted morale. People like that their employer is helping them to be healthy. It is a double return.

How to keep them healthy

There are a number of ways you can keep your staff healthy. Obviously diet and exercise are two of the key ways, but they are not the only ways. In fact, recent research into sleep has shown that sleep is one of the key metrics in having a healthy life and they have even linked sleep to sick days. There is scientific evidence that shows the connection between sleep health and sick days. In the study almost 4,000 men and women, who were aged between 30 and 64 years old, took part. The study was over a long period of time, seven years, and the results were fascinating. The research found that the absence from work due to illness increased dramatically for those participants who said they slept less than six hours or more than nine hours each night. The sleep time that was associated with the lowest number of sick days was seven hours 38 minutes for women and seven hours 46 minutes for men.

What does this mean for you?

So what does this mean for you? Well, it means that you want your staff to be sleeping for about seven hours and 38 to 46 minutes... but how on earth are you going to do that? Are you going to sit in their bedrooms with a stopwatch timing their sleep and making sure that they are getting just the right amount? Well, no. That would be weird, creepy and counterproductive as who could sleep properly with their boss in the room! So what can you do, really? As a manager, you need to start helping them to manage their sleep patterns.

Manage their schedule

For starters, you need to make sure that you are ensuring that they start and finish work at the right times to ensure that they are able to get enough sleep each night. A number of studies have shown that it is better to have people working for a shorter amount of time and sleeping longer as their brains are more focused and they are able to work more productively. Likewise, you can make sure that they are not working later into the night, especially on their computer or smart phone as both later night work and bright backlit screens late at night have been shown to be bad for sleep. Another thing that you can do with regard to their schedule is to make sure that they have long enough at lunch to get outside and get some bright sunshine and exercise as this has also been shown to improve sleep health.

Run a workshop

Also, though, you need to run a workshop on how they can improve their sleep health. What do you tell them in the workshop? Ok, so you are going to run a workshop on sleep health. What are you going to tell them? Here goes, it is actually quite simple, so simple we are going to put it all in bullet points and we can guarantee that if they implement these to their lives they will sleep better.

1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even in the weekend. Tell them the body craves routine, that the body clock works best if you go to bed around the same time each night and wake up at the same time. Work with rather than against the body. This is where you can help them with a schedule that suits.

2. Create a good sleep environment. They need to know that their bedroom should be dark, quiet and well ventilated. This includes banning smart phones and other electronic devices from the bedroom. Make sure they are not using work equipment late at night as it will disturb their sleep cycle.

3. Diet. They may groan at this, but a healthy diet is also a good diet for sleep. They need to avoid junk food and focus on dairy products, grains, nuts and fruit. These all help people to sleep. You can supply the right food for them at work, this will help them to make the right decisions.

4. Exercise and sunlight. As noted above, exercise and sunshine are great for helping people sleep so make sure that you encourage both at work. Lunch time is the right time for both. Give them enough time to get out and about, maybe even start a work jogging club at lunch.
 


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