How to Stop Employees Sleeping on the Job

employees sleeping on the job

Prior to the invent of the mobile phone, life was good. You would go home in the evening and you knew that no one, apart from that blasted carrier pigeon, was going to bother you with ‘urgent’ work related tasks. You could sit back and watch the 8 o’clock news in peace. These days your email is filling up, WhatsApp groups are pinging and you know your anxious colleague is going to give you a call about a ‘crisis’ that could definitely wait until the morning. Recharging for the next work day is not possible, so inevitably by Wednesday everyone is showing up to work with rings under their eyes and, in their right-hand, a cannon of a cappuccino they got on the Froth app. We’re all tired but most of us get on with the job at hand. For some though, it gets a bit much, they shut down and employees sleeping on the job becomes a reality for you.

What you will find below:

  1. What about shift or blue-collar workers
  2. Monitor you Staff using Technology
  3. Monitor you Staff using Supervisors
  4. Get to know your Staff
  5. Incentivise your Staff
  6. Create Consequences for your Staff
  7. A Hybrid Strategy works Best


What about shift or blue-collar workers


White-collar workers complain about sitting for too long and a bit of carpal-tunnel syndrome. The true difference between the two sectors are that white collar staff get mentally-tired and blue-collar get physically-tired staff. Their work is hard on the body, and many labour-based jobs start at the crack of dawn to maximise efficiency. So a 4am wakeup is not uncommon, especially since many live far away from major cities and need to travel. Pair lack of sleep with physically demanding work and it makes sense why one of your labourers is dozing under the tree or other employees sleeping in the break room.

Other businesses run for 24 hours, 7 days a week like petrol stations and security companies. They need staff around the clock and opt for a shift-based work schedule. Night-shift workers are particularly hard to manage as they are asked to change their life to suit their job – sleeping during the day is not always possible when they have external commitments like looking after children for example. Also, monitoring them is tricky as you cannot expect to be around all the time. As the saying goes, when the cat’s away, the mice will sleep. Wait, no.. But you get my point.

Whether white collar or blue collar, shift workers or day labourers, the question remains ‘how can you stop your staff from falling asleep at work’? We have come up with a few techniques or technologies to try, which we hope will alleviate your problem, while creating happier and more productive employees.


Monitor you Staff using Technology


Punch cards and paper-based systems are being phased out and for good reason. They are inefficient as the staff need to line up to jot their time in, and another staff member needs to supervise there is no fraudulent signing in. Many big companies who are factory or warehouse based have opted for fingerprint biometrics, but these are expensive to install and restricted to one location. Fortunately, with the invent of the smartphone there are a few smartphone clocking systems that automate time & attendance. ClockInstant is one of them, a South African company with a time-tracking solution made for South African companies. It is far more flexible and cheaper than biometrics.


Monitor you Staff using Supervisors


This is simple to do but it requires an extra employee, or in some businesses quite a few extra employees. The supervisor will be someone who can be trusted, and he/she will also command higher pay than your regular staff.

Their role is to physically monitor staff arrivals, departures and overall performance throughout the day (and make sure employees sleeping during work hours are abruptly woken up!). They will need to manage the time and attendance system you have in place. Be it manual and paper-based or digital and paperless. The supervisor may even be required to do certain admin tasks such as capturing the timesheets and other administrative tasks to do with the employees.


Get to know your Staff


You are probably thinking I’m mad to propose wasting more time and productivity having a chinwag with your employee while he or she should be working. While it may take some time out of the day, we believe it could improve productivity in the long-run. Many people worldwide suffer from a form of sleeping disorder like insomnia, sleep-wake disorder, shift-work disorder, restless-legs syndrome and more – some statistics here. One of your staff members may not know they have a problem, and most can be treated which will instantly decrease their urge to sleep on the job.

Another point of discussion should revolve around their current phase of life, new parents may be up all night looking after their child, students may need to study late during certain weeks. What ever the case, some staff members would benefit greatly from a flexible work schedule or if shift workers, they may benefit from switching from day to night shift or vice versa.


Incentivise your Staff


If you’re a great boss, you have already got incentives in place. Something as simple as employee of the month with a small reward goes a long way to promoting a hard-working culture. You can create as many incentives as you like; they can be daily, weekly or monthly incentives. Incentives can be time-based or performance based and the rewards can be monetary or non-monetary.

The basis of the incentive is up to you. You know what drives your business forward, whether that be implementing sales targets, positive ratings on TripAdvisor or just more timely staff. The rewards system is more nuanced, that is why the previous section on getting to know your staff is important. A recent graduate may appreciate more money, however a new mother may appreciate a half-day off as her reward. You need to find what drives your staff members.


Create Consequences for your Staff


Consequences is like ‘Incentives’ evil-twin. However, people understand consequences as they grew up with them. If you drew on the walls, you would receive a wooden spoon to the bottom (not these days, or your son would take you to the child protection services no doubt).

Consequences can range in context and severity. Our recommendation is that you make them absolutely clear so there cannot be any disputes and make them reasonable, so your staff buy into them. No one obeys laws they believe to be outlandish. Employees sleeping on the job will result in having to work an extra hour. That’s reasonable, right?


A Hybrid Strategy works Best


Not all of these strategies suit all types of businesses and you will know what will work or not. It sounds cliché but at the end of the day, our recommendation is to utilise a few of these strategies in conjunction with one another. For example, a manual system with incentives could work. However, it’s 2019 and we have self-driving cars so there’s technology out there that can help with your employees sleeping on the job. Pair technology with a dash of your people management skills and you’ve got an energised workforce that will improve your bottom line if managed effectively.


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