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HR sleep worse than most occupations, study finds

HR (34%) and retail (32%) professionals are least likely of all industries to say they have good sleep, a new study from Nuffield Health has found.

Industries that rated their sleep as the best are IT (48%) and finance (44%).

Luke Cousins, physiology regional lead, at Nuffield Health said HR professionals could be losing sleep due to the demanding nature of their roles.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “HR professionals may experience varying workloads depending on their organisation's size, industry, and specific HR responsibilities. Heavy workloads can potentially lead to longer working hours, which might impact sleep.

“HR professionals often deal with employee issues, conflicts and sensitive matters. High levels of stress can affect sleep quality and duration for anyone in a stressful role.”

Read more: Get woke to the power of sleep

The recommended amount of sleep is seven-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half hours a night.

The majority of brits (65%) said that they are not getting good quality sleep, with 11% only getting between two and four hours of sleep per night and 36% only sleeping between four and six hours. 

Cousins said that praise for employees who overwork and do not prioritise sleep is counterproductive in the long term.

He said: “Many businesses tend to overvalue individuals who undervalue sleep. However, for those looking to maximise employee potential and nurture a positive, productive workforce, it’s important to reduce the business and health risks of sleep deprivation.

“In addition to feelings of tiredness, employees are affected by reduced concentration, impaired mobility, and decreased reaction times, which can put those working in manual roles especially at risk of accident or injury.”

The study found 37% of people were less productive after a poor night’s sleep, while 55% found poor sleep negatively affected their emotional wellbeing.

Read more: Money worries impacting employees' ability to sleep

Cousins added managers should create a culture which values sleep to maximise wellbeing and productivity.

He said: “Employers should outline their expectations from the outset. This means defining working hours and letting employees know they aren’t expected to reply to emails outside of them.

“Managers need to lead from the top down here and ensure they are sending the right messages to their teams. Try not to stay late and openly address the myths surrounding sleep and productivity.

“Of course, occasionally, senior staff may need to put in some extra work time to meet deadlines or handle urgent issues. But working long hours and not prioritising rest and sleep does not equate to long-term high performance.”

The research was conducted by Censuswide in February 2023, among a sample of 8,000 nationally representative respondents across the UK.