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What to Do if an Employee is Sleeping at Work

Stress, chronic burnout, and fatigue are a real issue in the American workplace. With the ongoing nature of the pandemic, these mental health issues have only gotten more severe. The American Psychological Association found that 3 in 4 Gen Z workers reported negative health impacts due to the pandemic. 33% of those respondents reported that they’ve experienced disrupted sleep patterns as a result of those negative health impacts.

Tired employees and the occasional napping employee have probably always been a part of the workplace. However, especially now as workers continue to struggle with the effects of the pandemic, employees are more prone to burnout, fatigue, and sleeping on the job.

Below we’ll get into how you can manage employees combatting fatigue and sleeping on the job. 

Are sleeping employees dangerous?

This might seem like a drastic statement, but employees carry a certain level of responsibility within an organization, and there are several ways that sleeping on the job could be dangerous to the employee, their coworkers, and to the business. 

It’s not hard to imagine how in a warehouse setting this is a clear concern. Employees who have to carry boxes, operate forklifts, drive service carts, and work with other heavy machinery have to be aware and alert if they want to avoid an accident. 

Even in more specialized corporate settings, employees often have to work with sensitive information. Whether you’re in the cybersecurity space, finance world, or medical health record industry, employees will have access to delicate information and data. Logging data improperly, not being aware when monitoring networks and systems, and clumsily handling sensitive health or financial records could hurt your business and your customer’s privacy. 

If you’re in an industry where employees are dealing with sensitive information or heavy machinery, you have to intervene swiftly. We’ll show you how to intervene appropriately and respectfully below. 

Develop and refer to official policy regarding employees sleeping on the job

The best way to deal with employees sleeping on the job is to create clear, comprehensive company policies that can be standardized and shared between your various departments. This will remove ambiguity, create continuity, and ensure that your managers have an idea of how to deal with employees struggling with fatigue.

Below we’ll look at the appropriate steps and consequences you should be enforcing, but it’s important that, regardless of your policy, to have empathy and compassion. Employees sleeping on the job are often struggling with their work-life balance, and creating a balance of compassion and sternness is key to creating and maintaining a healthy company culture. 

Analyze your office environment

There are a few things to consider regarding your office environment if sleeping on the job is becoming an issue in your workplace. The below things might be leading to a work environment that might be leading your customers to doze off at work. 

  • Check your lighting. If your office is dimly lit or there isn’t enough natural lighting from windows, you might want to consider brightening up your workspace.
  • Temperature is often a huge factor to how workers feel. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommend temperatures ranging from 68°-76℉. You can keep it closer to 70° for cooler temperatures that will keep your employees awake and alert.
  • Indoor plants have been shown to improve mood and behavior for decades, and it’s no different in the office setting. Create a more welcoming environment by adding some indoor plants to your office. 
  • Create the kind of workplace that will keep your employees awake and engaged. Throw in a game room. Create office space for some lowkey exercises. Try to find ways that your employees can get up and active throughout their work day. 

Talk frankly with the sleeping employee

The best way to deal with an employee struggling with fatigue is to give an initial talk with them. Rather than being accusatory or immediately going over the punishments, ask them what’s going on. Allow them to explain their circumstances and why they’re falling asleep on the job. 

You can accomplish a lot of things by talking frankly and kindly to your employees about sleep issues. You can, for one, understand what they’re going through and develop a plan to help them deal with it. And generally speaking, one conversation is often enough to see some immediate behavioral changes from your employees. 

If the sleeping patterns continue, however, you should defer to your company policy and the appropriate consequences.

Develop and communicate clear consequences (while keeping company policy in mind

Organizations can only do so much in being patient, understanding, and compassionate with their employees. At the end of the day, the office is a workplace, and as we covered above, not addressing sleeping problems in the workplace can be dangerous to your employees and customers.

Having a structured policy in place will make the whole process easier for everyone involved. Whether you have a 3 strikes warning or probation period system, you eventually have to administer a formalized and documented written warning. After enough warnings, you might have to layoff the worker so they no longer become a liability and potential health hazard to you and your company. 

Ways to ensure employees sleeping at work doesn't happen

There are a number of steps employers can take to ensure that sleeping at work doesn’t become a habitual problem. If sleep becomes a problem in the workplace, you should be doing everything on your part to create a work culture that enables your employees to stay productive and engaged. 

  • Take steps to support better work-life balance. Offer a wellbeing benefits package or discounted gym membership to encourage healthier living patterns. 
  • Nap time is a real thing at a lot of top companies, including Google, Facebook, and Cisco, among others. Transform some of your office spaces to include comfortable couches or sleeping pods. 
  • Let your employees take breaks. Frequent short breaks is a great way for employees to get up and active throughout their workday. 
  • Encourage your employees to exercise at work, which can be as easy as getting active from their office chairs
  • Bring it up in team meetings. Addressing the issue collectively as a team is a good way to avoid singling people out and making sure that the discussion is a company-wide issue. 

With a combination of altering your work environment, encouraging healthier work-life habits, and communicating clearly and empathetically with employees, you can help your employees combat fatigue in the workplace today. 

How Crosschq can help

Crosschq relies on valuable candidate insights and advanced recruiting analytics that help you identify the top candidates before you’ve even seen their resume. Pre-hire candidate assessments and reference check capabilities will help you take the guesswork out of hiring, opening you up to quality hires.

Though we can’t guarantee your employees will never sleep on the job, we can guarantee that with Crosschq you’ll have all the insights, analytics, and talent pipelines to make the kind of hires that fit your unique needs.

Check out a demo to see how Crosschq can help you find the right match today.

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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