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Litigation Risk and Tiredness

Some work I did the other day suggests that nearly one in 10 cases we write up concerns drafting errors in documents or incorrect professional advice of some sort...which surprised me. Thinking about possible causes got me thonking about insomnia and tiredness. I remember well the 120 hour weeks and occasional all-nighter when things 'just had to be done' and how exhausted one got...so I asked sleep therapist Stephanie Romiszewski to consider  the potential for tiredness to be a principal cause (and litigation risk). Here's what she wrote.

 

Poor sleep and work risk are inextricably linked

“It is common for us to look at bad decision making at work as being caused by poor training, organizational politics or the work environment. The answer could be much simpler – a lack of sleep.”Stephanie Romiszewski

 

The Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, the Chernobyl nuclear explosion, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger space shuttle disaster were all the result of human error caused by sleepiness. Lives were lost. Billions wasted.

 

If lack of good sleep can be so obviously disastrous, what is it subtly doing to our general work force and how is this affecting our economy?

 

Insufficient sleep costs the UK £40 billion of economic output every year.

 

Those sleeping less than 6 hours of sleep per night lose an average of 6 days more per year than those sleeping longer due to absenteeism and presenteeism.

 

The more senior you are, the less sleep you get.

 

Research shows even a moderate level of fatigue is the equivalent to or greater than being legally drunk. Being drunk impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving.

 

The biggest areas at work affected by sleep deprivation are motivation, communication, innovation, assessing risk and decision making – reducing business advantage and increasing litigation risk through error and poor judgement.

 

Getting less than 6 hrs sleep per night is a predictor of job burnout.

 

It costs an organisation an average of £1725 per year per sleep deprived employee.

 

These costs rise over time, even if we assume constant proportions of short sleepers in the future. Therefore, solving the problem of insufficient sleep represents a potential ‘win-win’ situation for individuals, employers and the wider society.

 

Small changes could make a big difference, if those in the UK currently sleeping under six hours a night increased this to between six and seven hours it would add £24bn to the UK's economy. If their sleep was even longer than this, there would be no loss due to sleep deprivation at all.

 

Our 24/7 ‘always on’ globally-networked and technologically-connected business culture and the pressure to be seen ‘performing’ appears to be contributing to a sleep-deprived workforce. Sleeping is seen as weakness.

 

 

Yet The Wall Street Journal pointed out, that for people who are already not getting enough sleep one extra hour in average sleep over the long run is associated with a 16% increase in wages.

 

We also know that interventions to enhance sleep and recovery in occupational settings could help prevent burnout.

 

Memory and decision making are improved with good sleep making you less likely to make mistakes and more likely to make better decisions, reducing litigation risk.

 

Your workforce is more motivated and conscientious after a good night’s sleep

 

You can save £1725 per year per employee by removing sleep deprivation, not to mention encouraging a healthier, happier work force!

 

So what can you to reduce the risk of litigation and reduce the cost of sleep deprivation in your company?

 

Sleepyhead Clinic can help put sleep on the agenda in the following ways:

 

 

We provide educational workshops and wellbeing days for your employees about the importance of sufficient and effective sleep including guidelines and sleep aids to support this.

 

We run employee assisted programmes for those with sleep issues such as sleep apnoea, insomnia or difficulty with shift work including treatment courses and yearly check-ups. We can help get rid of sleep disorder effects for good.

 

We provide reports on the evaluation of organisational structure, work environment, shift and activity patterns to help target areas of your company which are at risk of encouraging sleep issues and recommend evidence based, and scientific ways of mitigating this risk.

 

We can help you write policies and put procedures in place to make sure when arranging travel, training, complex cognitive and interpersonal tasks, major strategic meetings and out of office work that provision for sleep, rest periods and recovery days are accounted for.

 

When investigating employee work, personal or social issues, we can help provide you with the tools to evaluate employees sleep health and wellbeing and help reduce the risk of burnout in specific individuals. We can highlight employees more at risk and implement strategies to reduce their risk of sleep disorders.

 

Sleepy execs? A good sleep ethic starts with you. You are a role model. Enquire about our sleep retreats to learn how you and your senior colleagues can help your employees, whilst fixing your own sleep problems and reducing the cost to your company.

Sleepyhead



 
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