More than half (59%) of Scottish workers claim tiredness negatively impacts on productivity at work, research has revealed. The study of 1,123 workers by Willis Towers Watson (WTW) also found that more than a third (35%) of workers in Scotland are struggling to get a good night’s sleep because of their job. Of the respondents who struggled to nod off, more than half cited difficulty in winding down after a stressful day at the office as the main reason for sleeplessness (51%), followed by early starts (47%) job worries (45%), and late-night working (34%).
The research closely follows the launch of the world’s largest sleep study, which made headlines last month after a recruitment drive for 100,000 volunteers. Scientists in Western University, Ontario, hope the study will help them to gain a better understanding of the effects of sleep deprivation on brain function.
Speaking about the new research, Mike Blake, a director at Willis Towers Watson Health & Benefits, said: “The work environment is no longer confined to the office, with the stress of heavy workloads creeping into home life. Whilst companies may benefit from a perceived ‘increase’ in productivity in the short-term, ongoing stress, coupled with lack of sleep, can risk having an overall negative impact on operational performance. And the launch of the worldwide sleep study is a clear indicator that fatigue will become a more prevalent and serious workplace issue that employers can ill afford to ignore.”
Despite 65% of workers saying tiredness has become a bigger workplace problem over the past five years, WTW’s research revealed that just 12% of Scottish employers proactively educate their employees on the effect of sleep on general wellbeing.
Blake said employee-focused health and wellbeing programmes can help companies address the growing issue of fatigue at work. “Employers who become more attuned to the needs of their workers outside the office are more likely to retain a happy and healthy employee base,” he added. Companies should aim to identify and tackle potential issues before they become a problem. Open dialogue is key to establishing a positive workplace culture that addresses and mitigates stress and fatigue. This will allow managers to identify dips in productivity and tackle the root causes before more serious issues arise, such as absenteeism and presenteeism. By placing an emphasis on the importance of sufficient sleep, workers will also feel more comfortable approaching managers about fatigue and solutions can be found, such as meditative practices, review of workloads or flexible working hours.”