Managing Sleepy Employees

Keeping workers safe and alert

We live in a time-starved and sleep-deprived society. We face too many demands on our personal and professional time, and we sacrifice that which we believe to be of little value—sleep. As a result, we are often tired, succumb to more illness, and perform less effectively. How do human resource and operational managers face the challenge of achieving optimum alertness to ensure safety and productivity of all staff?

Fatigue in the workplace is a fact of life. Some managers choose to pretend otherwise, which sets up the potential for accidents and injury. Other managers go to the opposite extreme of creating strict policies about ‘not sleeping on the job.’ What these policies encourage, however, is hiding. Employees know they cannot overcome their need for sleep, so they find ways to do it, in spite of the rules.

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Carolyn Schur
Carolyn Schur
Carolyn Schur is president of Alert@Work Human Resource Services, a company that specializes in sleep and fatigue management. She can be reached at