Parents of infants and children may not find it surprising to know they’re not alone in being sleep deprived. Research from The Children’s Sleep Charity and Blinds-Hut revealed that half of all parents get less than 6 hours of sleep a night caring for their fussy little sleepers, but what can employers do to help?
Employees who are parents are at increased risk of sleep deprivation with 40 per cent of children experiencing a sleep issue at some point in childhood. According to the charity, employers often don’t realise the negative impact that sleep deprivation can have on their staff. From lowering the immune system resulting in days off sick, to staff making mistakes because their concentration is compromised.
Consider flexible hours for working parents
One in seven parents feel that their child’s bedtime routine makes them late for work. To ease their stress and get the most out of your employees with children, consider implementing different schedules for them that could either allow for working from home a day a week, or shift the usual 9 to 5 to something that works for their childcare routine (8 to 4, for example). Speaking to these employees early on can help inform your choices.
Breakfast at work
While topping up the coffee canisters and tea bags, consider a breakfast budget as part of your weekly office pantry shopping. Pastries, a fruit bowl, yoghurt pots and granola are cost effective choices, making it easier for employees to get to work on time and look forward to their mornings.
De-stigmatise lunchtime naps
Power naps became a corporate staple in the 1990s, but have faded away as the UK began grappling with eat-at-desk lunch culture. For most people, a power nap is between 10 and 20 minutes, and leads to improved concentration and alertness, better memory recall, and lower stress levels.
What works for Google may not necessarily work for your business, but there’s a lot to be said about nap pods at work, or a quiet room for employees to catch lunch time Zs. By setting the stage for power naps, and making it a viable option, employees can choose to spend their lunch break away from their desks, instead of rushing down a make-shift lunch and plugging through the rest of the day in a daze.
Bring in sleep experts
According to Vicki Dawson, CEO of The Children’s Sleep Charity, when all else fails, bring in an expert. “Employees need to be empathic around sleep issues, staff cannot meet their full potential if they are sleep deprived. Having flexible working hours may help some parents and remote working can also be helpful at times. Essentially however staff need support to improve their child’s sleep patterns through the use of appropriately qualified sleep practitioners.”