Almost a third of employees go to work tired: survey

Canadian employees are lacking much-needed sleep with 27 per cent reporting they feel tired most days or every day during the work week, according to a new report by the Conference Board of Canada.

Its survey of 739 full-time and part-time Canadian employees found fatigue affects the way individuals think, react and display emotions at work.

While the consequences from lack of sleep have traditionally been a workplace safety issue, research shows it affects employee wellness and work relations as well, notes Charles Boyer, research associate and network manager of workplace health, wellness and safety research at the Conference Board of Canada.

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“Employees who sleep less are more in risk of accidents and injury but their well-being and mental health is affected as well,” says Boyer. “You’re not making the best decisions when you’re tired.”

Indeed, 42 per cent of respondents to the survey said their productivity and performance were somewhat or significantly worse on days they were tired. On top of that, Boyer notes fatigued employees are more prone to having poor judgment and less control over their behaviours, thereby potentially causing stress on relationships with colleagues and managers.

Survey respondents cited various factors of fatigue including work stress and job demands (28 per cent), stress from home demands (26 per cent) and physical health problems (nine per cent). Poor sleeping habits such as caffeine before bed or too much screen time can also affect sleep, according to the report. And more women reported being tired at work than men, with only 15 per cent of the former indicating they never went to work tired compared to 29 per cent of the latter.

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However, there is a gap in informing employees about the importance of sleep in the workplace, according to Boyer who notes that only 21 per cent of employees surveyed received information about fatigue and rest.

Apart from educational awareness, Boyer says employers can include healthy sleep habits when promoting good nutrition and fitness through wellness initiatives. Managers can also establish guidelines so employees feel comfortable reporting the role fatigue plays in affecting their work performances, he says.

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