Encourage a snooze for a boost in employee productivity


Companies should encourage employees to take power naps while they are at work, says Kelsey Rod.

As the “great resignation” wave continues to take root around the globe, employers are challenged to create a working environment which allows employees to thrive. One cost-effective way to do this is by incorporating power naps into your employee wellness strategy.

Now before you tune out and dismiss this article as wishful thinking in a South African context, you should consider the following facts:

1. According to the Mental State of the World report released last year, South Africa
scored the lowest average score on the mental health wellbeing matrix.
2. On top of this, Dr Frank Magwegwe – executive at Sanlam – recently wrote a column
where he highlighted the mental crisis in South Africa and estimates that it costs the
local economy over R200 billion a year.
3. One out of every four employees is currently suffering from some form of depression. South Africans are quite literally cracking under the mental health crisis and it is going to impact your business in one way, shape or form in the coming months and years. While we may not be able to emulate the employee utopia envisaged by American technology businesses, there is merit in actually ensuring that your employees are well rested.

The benefits of power naps go beyond just recharging your physical and mental energy. Studies from sources such as The National Sleep Foundation and HealthHub reveal that a power nap helps to relieve stress, uplift mood and improves your state of wakefulness. It also improves your ability to focus, improves memory and increases

Global mega-corporations like Google and Nike, as well as tenacious start-ups, are already benefiting from encouraging employees to take a quick snooze at work. This goes to show that encouraging naps in the workplace is a smart investment that doesn’t cost that much to maintain sustainably. In fact, the benefits will allow you to see a return in your employees’ output in no time.

Here’s how you can encourage power naps in your workplace:

Educate employees on power naps

Educating employees on how to snooze for a boost is essential if you want to get the best out of encouraging your employees to nap at the office. Naps can be harmful to one’s health if not taken properly. The European Society of Cardiology Congress found that naps taken for 60 minutes and longer are closely connected to a 30 percent higher risk of death from all causes and a 34 percent increased risk of cardiovascular illnesses. An effective nap is commonly between 20 to 30 minutes and enters stages 1 and 2 of the sleep cycle.

Taking naps for too long can disrupt your body clock, which causes you to wake up feeling more exhausted than rested. While some people benefit from taking naps, some just don’t. Therefore it is important to encourage a sense of self-awareness among employees so that they may understand the benefits and effects of napping and learn what works best for them to implement the practice accordingly.

Set up designated nap areas in the workplace

One requires rest to be able to nap. Creating an environment that encourages rest is key if you want to encourage your employees to take naps. Create an environment that makes it hard for employees to stay awake. This will help those who find it difficult to fall asleep or calm their minds to easily take naps.

Companies with big budgets such as Google and Nasa have incorporated sleep technology in the form of napping pods. For businesses without Google’s budget, a simple less noisy and comfortable corner in the workplace can work just as well.

Allow employees to disconnect

We live in a very demanding and connected world where disconnecting is almost impossible. The last thing you need when trying to take a power nap is to be disturbed by an incoming call or email.

Taking a power nap is part of a process that requires you to be in the moment to greatly benefit from it. Encourage employees to disconnect as they take naps. This can be done by prohibiting the use of devices in designated nap areas.

Also ask employees to update their online status to “Do not disturb” to inform those around them that they are offline for the moment. This will allow employees to rest effectively and declutter their brains/minds.

Although the idea of taking naps in the workplace has gained traction over the years with numerous research supporting it, the practice is still heavily stigmatised. Employees need more than just being told that they are allowed to nap in the workplace. Employers need to educate employees and support the practice by finding practical ways to encourage and implement it.

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