Corporate culture, much like its social sibling, usually frowns upon employee fatigue and mid-day sleeping which is directly responsible for staff becoming unproductive. What science has shown however is that people experience a natural increase in drowsiness and fatigue in the afternoon, around 8 hours after waking up from their evening slumber. I have found that managing these occurrences effectively can result in higher staff productivity while also contributing to a stronger, more pervasive, culture within the organisation.
There are numerous campaigns depicting the dangers of driving or operating heavy machinery when fatigued or tired. In fact, the medical field has already recognised this by providing doctors with mandatory rest time as part of a working shift. This clearly indicates the severe consequences that fatigue can have on judgement, reaction time, performance and so on.
How productive do you think it is to work under such conditions? I am quite confident that you have been in this type of situation before, where you were stuck behind a desk or staring at a computer screen, wishing you could just take a few minutes to close your eyes, relax and refresh.
Whether it is a split second decision that needs to be made, or rigorous calculations being done on an on-going basis, you would want your ‘Star Player’ to be recharged, in tune and ready for action, and not just going through the motions, trying to get through the day.
‘Unproductivity’ is a major concern at the work place. Managers and leaders are constantly looking for new, innovate ways to effectively manage employees in order to boost organisational productivity. One of the problems is that most of the fundamental breakthroughs in management were made decades ago and many of the ‘modern’ management techniques have been an adaptation from these premises rather than a paradigm shift to look at new models of managing employees.
Contemporary organisational literature and legislation has placed increased importance on the well being of the employee, particularly focusing on the social responsibility of the corporation, and building (and maintaining) a strong corporate culture. The emphasis has shifted somewhat, away from solely profit driven targets, to higher levels of concern over individual employee well being.
Out dated management processes need to be readdressed to find new ways of effectively dealing with higher stress levels and increased employee turnover at the work place. The ruthless business environment and increasing pressure placed on employees in these competitive times means that managers who successfully find ways to manage employee well being, rather than purely pushing target driven goals, will have the competitive edge within the market.
The Wellness (and/or) Sleep Centre
An ‘in house’ facility that promotes relaxation and creativity - where employees can have a little ‘ME’ time to relax and recharge in sound proof cubicles for timed increments of up to an hour. Here’s how it works:
- Two full time staff to manage the facilities upkeep and operation.
Employees can be allocated 1 hour per month to use the facility as follows:
- 3 sessions (20min x 3),
- 2 sessions (40min, 20min) or,
- 1 straight 60 minute session.
- Staff can have the option of buying another hour (no more than 2 hours a month total) – this money can be returned to the facility for maintenance and upkeep.
- Firms can manage the booking process by either having an internal online booking system or direct bookings at the facility.
Design and Layout
- Depending on the size of your organisation you may consider a few or a number of sound proof cubicles.
- Décor should be tranquil and calming to promote relaxation. (almost a ‘Zen’ effect)
- Each cubicle should contain a single bed, table, water and a note pad and pen (to capture any creative moments)
Perks and Tools
The facility should provide various relaxation tools, examples are:
- Scents and smells that promote calm and tranquillity
- Chamomile and other calming herbal tea’s (optional - Before and during the session)
- Meditative tools
- The facility should also have a host of relaxation techniques (as a guide) which are available to employees at any time.
- The option of complete silence or tranquil, harmonious melody.
- Coffee (optional - after the session to help catalyze the recharge process)
1. Less stress.
Research has found that stress hormone levels were lower in those who took stress-reducing actions such as napping or meditation. Taking a break each day from the stresses of work can leave you feeling refreshed, renewed, and more focused.
2. Increased alertness and productivity.
Scientists have proved that meditation and power-napping will result in you feeling more alert and energetic, and once rested after your mid-afternoon nap, your mood, efficiency, and alertness level will improve greatly. Taking a 20-minute nap approximately eight hours after you have awakened will do more for your stamina than sleeping another 20 minutes in the morning.
3. Improved memory and learning.
Daytime dozing may enhance a person’s capacity to learn certain tasks. That, at least, is the eye-opening implication of a new study in which college students were challenged to detect subtle changes in an image during four different test sessions on the same day.
Participants improved on the task throughout the first session. The students’ speed and accuracy then leveled off during the second session. The scores of the participants who didn’t nap declined throughout the final two sessions. In contrast, volunteers who took a 20-minute power nap after completing the second practice session showed no ensuing performance dips. What’s more, 1-hour power nappers responded progressively faster and more accurately in the third and fourth sessions.
4. Increased cognitive functioning.
In a recent study, researchers at NASA showed that a 30-minute power nap increased cognitive faculties by approximately 40 percent! Tests carried out on one thousand volunteers proved that those who continued working without rest, made lower scores in intelligence tests like the IQ test. More importantly, their capacities to work and memorize decreased in comparison to those who napped after lunch.
5. Boost your creativity.
People tend to be more imaginative after a good night’s sleep. Experts agree that taking a nap or stepping away from a problem or project refreshes the mind and could lead to better ideas later. Power napping allows your brain to create the loose associations necessary for creative insight and opens the way for a fresh burst of new ideas.
Do your research – Study the gains of incremental relaxation and mid-day power napping so that you are adequately informed.
Get Stakeholder Buy in – Once you have satisfied yourself with the relevant ethnography, get the buy in and consent from higher management and other parties concerned.
Survey - Do a basic survey to gain employee perceptions on the hack. This will also help to customise your facility to meet the specific needs of your organisation.