Jenna Hanson
Business and Technology Journalist

Jenna Hanson covers business news and technology for Smarter Business™

Jenna Hanson
Business and Technology Journalist

Jenna Hanson covers business news and technology for Smarter Business™

A new study has found that one in every five employees is sleep deprived and more likely to experience stress in their job. Read our top tips to minimise stress in the workplace.

An alarming 93 per cent of sleep deprived workers are more likely to display workplace fatigue, a common symptom of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) – a condition proven to increase risks of employee absenteeism, accidents and injury.

The report by Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) is based on data drawn from employees of 4500 companies in 185 countries and looks into the effects of stress and sleep deprivation on staff. 

Exhausted businesswoman

Stress Lowers Productivity

The survey also found that those who sleep poorly are more likely to experience stress in their job and are 1.4 times as likely to report lower than average productivity than those with average or above average sleep quality.

According to Glenn Riseley, founder and president of the GCC, there are now more employers who recognise that their people's mental and physical health is inextricably linked to business success – a realisation that, for many, signals a need to re-think outdated, "tick-box" wellbeing strategies in exchange for a longer term commitment to employee health.

"The cost of poor sleep habits amongst employee populations has been grossly under estimated; it is having profound consequences for productivity and health,” he said.

“Luckily, enlightened employers are now changing their cultures so that sleep is no longer seen as a luxury, but as a priority."

A survey of 16,000 employees by The Resilience Institute has revealed that an integral change in approach to workplace stress can increase staff engagement and productivity.

The data, collected over three years from May 2011 to September 2014, followed the employees of 250 companies both before and after engaging in resilience-based training conducted by The Resilience Institute. 

The cost of poor sleep … is having profound consequences for productivity and health.

- Glenn Riseley, Global Corporate Challenge

More Sleep Leads to Better Workers

The results showed a direct correlation with greater wellbeing, such as a more energised body and higher levels of engagement on the job with a greater sense of purpose.

At the same time, the study showed that the resilience-based training reduced symptoms associated with poor mental health regarding distress, depression and vulnerability.

Stuart Taylor, performance coach and managing director of The Resilience Institute Australia, believes it may be time to re-evaluate the way workplace stress is viewed and treated.

“There is nothing wrong with stress,” says Stuart. “Stress is inevitable and we need it to foster innovation, drive change and to ultimately thrive and be at our best. What companies should be focusing on is how to train employees to master that stress and use it to help them thrive in all facets of their life.”

Stuart tells Smarter his top five stress-busting tips. 

1. Understand stress

Small business leaders should seek to create an environment that fosters positive stress, leading to sustainable high performance. Equally important is to educate staff on the causation of stress. Stress only exists when someone perceives a gap between a challenge and their ability to reach that challenge. A resilient person will either reframe the thought to improve their perspective or seek help to resolve the threat.

2. Train yourself

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is a powerful agent. When built up through ongoing distress and poor lifestyle, it leaves us on a downward spiral when facing challenges.

Try some of these lifestyle changes to build “match fitness” to combat the effects of stress:

  • Exercise 20 minutes most days of the week
  • Catch the sleep wave before 10.30pm most nights and get up at the same time every day
  • Consider a relaxation practice, like yoga or meditation
  • Never miss breakfast

3. Be optimistic

A resilient small business leader is able to view their world with a mindset of realistic optimism. Unfortunately, during tough times, this style can shift to pessimism or delusional optimism. But it’s difficult to know your mindset when you’re busy or frantic. One starting point is to practise mindfulness – try it out for one minute, three times a day through slow, focussed breathing.

4. Play to your strengths

Resilience is ultimately anchored by doing activities which you are passionate about and play to your strengths. So the key question for mastering stress and building resilience is: “How often do I spend doing things I am passionate about?” When you do activities where strengths are equal to the challenge, the results are obvious – joy, success and satisfaction. This clearly applies to leaders, staff at work and outside work, so try to engage in a passion (work and non-work related) once a week.

5. Teamwork

Resilience is a team sport, not an individual one. In tough times and in small business generally, we often isolate ourselves, which can narrow our perspective and can be pessimistic. A hallmark of a resilient person is their willingness and action to be in contact with others who can relate to their situation and do so with a level of objectivity and compassion. Try joining an industry or social networking group to help you manage your stress.

Get more tips for happy workers.

Learn additional strategies to reduce workplace stress here.

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