Lack of sleep leads to job dissatisfaction

A survey from the University of Florida reveals that lack of sleep not only makes people tired and irritable, it also causes them to dislike or even hate their jobs the next morning. The effects were more pronounced among women, who reported suffering more fatigue and hostility and being less attentive and happy than their male counterparts.

"It's intuitive that one might feel a little irritable, but to experience emotional spillover to the point of actually feeling less satisfied with work is a little surprising," says Brent Scott, a University of Florida graduate student assistant in management who led the research.

"These differences may have something to do with society's expectations for men and women," Scott continued. "Women are encouraged to be nurturing and more emotionally expressive than men, who have been taught to remain stoic and restrain their emotions."

Employees reported higher rates of job satisfaction if they had slept soundly the night before and lower levels if they had experienced insomnia.

Although it is known that sleep restores the body, particularly the brain, it is less understood how it affects emotions and attitudes. Scott says, "Given that most employees spend the majority of their waking hours at work, it's curious that the effects of lack of sleep have not been examined more thoroughly within the working environment.

"Undoubtedly one of the reasons Americans are getting less sleep is the growth in dual-career couples," he said. "When husbands and wives both work, they come home having to do household duties and take care of children, which leaves them little time for sleep."

The issue is becoming more and more important as Americans get less and less sleep. Another survey, this one from the National Sleep Foundation, found that Americans sleep an average of 6.8 hours per weekday night. As many as a quarter of those surveyed reported sleeping well only a few nights a month.

Lack of sleep leads to job dissatisfaction
Download File | Visit Archives

Employers contribute to the problem by making more demands. Employers should pay attention to workers' needs, though, because lack of sleep may ultimately hurt job performance. One of the first changes that might be apparent is employees being less willing to help co-workers who miss work because of illness or other reasons.

"With employers trying to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of employees and having them work extended hours, a 40-hour work week is basically non-existent anymore in some occupations," Scott says.

"Although managers often complain about employees' poor job performance, this research suggests that they actually may be responsible for it by creating conditions that lead their employees to suffer insomnia," add Jerald Greenberg, a professor of management and human resources at Ohio State University. "Hopefully, managers will take note by becoming part of the solution."

Companies can address the problem by giving employees flexibility in making their schedules, providing on-site child care and offering wellness programs designed to teach employees how to reduce insomnia. Businesses that fail to act risk more frequent turnover, if employees are not content in the workplace.

For their part, individuals can take steps of their own by exercising more and limiting consumption of caffeine and alcohol.

"We know from other research that people who are dissatisfied with their jobs leave organizations at higher rates than those who are happy and committed to their jobs," Scott concludes.

Forty-five employees at a Southeastern regional office of a large national insurance company participated in the study, which Scott conducted with University of Florida management professor Timothy Judge.

Note: This information was culled from studies performed in 2006.