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Fatigued employees costing UK businesses

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Fatigued employees could be costing UK businesses £453 million in productivity, according to research by Sealy UK.

The report found that more than one in five (21%) employees have recently called in sick or arrived late because of lack of sleep.

The researchers calculated that if one in five employees missed work because of lack of sleep one day a year this would cost £453 million in productivity, and mean a total loss of 47,250,000 hours of work.

One in 10 (10%) respondents also admitted to regularly falling asleep in a meeting or at their desk ‘by accident’. Almost a third (32%) said that they felt tired every morning, and more than one in 20 (6%) said that they nap at work ‘most days’.

IT professionals were the most likely to sleep on the job, with 29% of respondents in this industry admitting to it.

A separate study in 2014 by the Bank Workers Charity, Bank On Your People, found workers in the financial sector were also affected, with 60% of employees reporting poor sleep quality.

Director of the Work Foundation's Centre for Workforce Effectiveness Stephen Bevan told HR magazine that tiredness on the job can impact health and safety.

“If people are reporting a lack of sleep they have more trouble making decisions and concentrating on what they are doing,” he explained. “This increases the risk of accidents at work.

“Around 20% of accidents on motorways are attributable to fatigue. A significant proportion of industrial accidents, especially in areas such as construction where the risks are higher, could be caused by poor sleep quality.”

He added: “In a WOLF study we found there were some factors that made people more likely to fall asleep on the job. Those factors [include being] younger, shift-working, male [and a] non-smoker. The amount that you worked, how demanding your role is, whether you worked alone, none of that had as much of an impact as those factors.

“It is also possible that shift workers suffer from a worse diet than those who work more regular hours.”

Sealy marketing director Neil Robinson said: “Our research demonstrates the serious consequences a lack of sleep can have, not only on our day-to-day performance, but in terms of lost productivity in the workplace.”