HR managers – are they sleeping soundly?

Lack of sleep can hinder job performance and signal a poor work-life balance

Last week on the Greenleaf blog Elaine Cohen explained how engaging with technology and becoming internet “geeks” can lead us towards a greener world. This week her article focuses on how HR managers can impact upon their company’s business results by asking one question – are employees getting enough shuteye? This seemingly simple enquiry, argues Elaine, is all part of a CSR strategy, and HR managers should sit up and take notice:

Are HR managers asleep?

No? Maybe they should be! An article published by the Good Company Newsletter of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (PHWP) reports that there are hidden workplace costs to employee health, happiness and productivity. People who engage in unhealthy sleeping habits are putting not only their own sustainability at risk, but also that of their organisation. This could be one explanation for the lack of productivity of HR Managers in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility. Perhaps, with a little more sleep, they may become more enlightened, more productive and more prepared to consider adopting practices that will enable their workplaces to thrive over the long-term.

Lack of healthy sleep takes its toll in several areas, according to the PHWP. Here are just some of the downsides noted in the article by Dr Larissa Barber.

• decreasing level of involvement at work, hindering job performance
• poorer decision making
• lower concentration on complex tasks which require analytical ability
• making errors
• negatively impacting team performance
• strained relationships
• lower retention of learned information
• lower cognitive performance which negatively affect safety practices
• poor work-life balance
• increased stress

If you are an HR Manager (assuming you are not suffering from sleep deprivation), and you know your employees are hindering your organisation’s performance because they are not engaging in healthy sleep habits, wouldn’t you be tempted to make a plan to understand the effect of poor-sleep stress in your organisation and consider how to assist employees who are suffering from this problem? Wouldn’t you be interested to know if there is something about your organisation’s work culture which might be contributing to the problem? Or would you take the ostrich approach and leave employees to work out their sleep schedules for themselves?

How many times do you see “lack of sleep” on an organisational risk matrix? Probably not ever. And yet, this could be one significant, silent, unidentified drag on your productivity and profitability.

How many times do you see “lack of sleep” on an organisational risk matrix? Probably not ever. And yet, this could be one significant, silent, unidentified drag on your productivity and profitability. Of course, it’s impossible to overtake the personal lives and health habits of each and every one of your employees. People are not robots and cannot be expected to adopt every single health practice in all aspects of their lifestyles, whether this relates to sport, nutrition, non-smoking, weight-control or ergonomic seating. But different people are prone to different influences. Some things affect some people more than others. By ignoring the effects of sleep deprivation, HR Managers may be missing an opportunity to help employees, contribute to the wider quality of life in our society and also improve business results.

Raising awareness of sleep deprivation and unhealthy sleeping habits, offering simple tools to help employees understand their own circumstances and taking action where necessary could be a simple way to identify potential for productivity improvement and reduced conflict in the organisation.

Is this CSR? Of course it is. Not by coincidence, then, that I have been saying that HR Managers should WAKE UP to CSR. Literally as well as metaphorically.

This article is adapted from a post on Elaine Cohen’s blog. You can view the original here.

Elaine Cohen is a CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional and author of CSR for HR: A Necessary Partnership for Advancing Responsible Business Practices. Find out more about Cohen’s work via her website.

Buy CSR for HR direct from Greenleaf Publishing and receive a 30% discount off hardback and 10% off PDF eBook. Just use voucher code csrhr222 at checkout.

Sleeping businessman image courtesy of


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