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Jo Geraghty

Director

To sleep perchance to dream

Date added: 30th Jun 2016
Category: Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is far more than simply working with your people to assimilate the aims of the organisation - working best when people feel that you care

It is perhaps ironic that when the benefits of sleep have been proved time and time again, one of the most famous quotes about sleep comes from a musing about death and suicide. Be that as it may, when we live in a 24/7 society the pressure is always on something to give, and unfortunately that something is quite often our rest or leisure time.

In fact, it would be wrong of us to simply ascribe our lack of sleep to the 24/7 society. Writing towards the beginning of the last century, the poet Robert Frost in his poem ‘stopping by woods on a snowy evening’ lamented the fact that he was unable to fully enjoy the beauty of the scene because he had promises to keep and miles to go before he could sleep. And there are similar examples from other periods going further back into history.

We could say that the peoples of long ago didn’t have the benefit of current medical thinking which has linked a lack of sleep with a whole range of diseases and conditions including heart problems and diabetes. But even though we should now know better, lack of sleep is regarded as being an endemic problem by health authorities worldwide.

Various organisations have tried to help their employees to switch off through practices such as cutting off access to emails after a certain time but the temptation to just check that email or just finalise that report is a hard one to resist. However, the BBC has recently reported on one company in America which is actually rewarding its employees for sleeping. Staff at the insurance group Aetna earn $25 for every twenty nights in which they sleep for seven hours or more. Aetna’s people are also rewarded for undertaking exercise programs, lending a new meaning to the phrase taking care of your employees.

The story does highlight the way in which employee engagement is far more than simply working with your people to assimilate the aims of the organisation. Employee engagement works best when people feel that you care, and what better way to care than to help people to take care of their long-term health.

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