An Epidemic in the Workplace—Tiredness

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of U.S. workers say they work while tired, with nearly one-third (31%) saying they do so very often, according to a new survey by staffing firm Accountemps.

Eighty-six percent of professionals between the ages of 18 and 34 admitted to being sleepy at work often, compared to 71% of workers ages 35 to 54 and only 50% of respondents ages 55 and older. Slightly more men (77%) than women (71%) said they often work while tired.

Fifty-five percent of workers said they would use a nap room if their employer offered one. Two percent said their employer already provides a nap room and they take advantage of it.

One-third (33%) of workers who said they would not take advantage of a nap room cited the following reasons: It might make them sleepier (46%), they don’t want to be perceived as a slacker (35%), and they worry about not getting their work done (34%).

NEXT: The cost of tired workers

The costs of working tired—both for professionals and the businesses they work for—are high, Accontemps says. Respondents cite lack of focus or being easily distracted (52%), procrastinating more (47%), being grumpy (38%) and making more mistakes (29%) among the consequences.

Professionals admitted to, or heard of others, making the following mistakes due to being tired on the job:

  • Made a $20,000 mistake on a purchase order;
  • Deleted a project that took 1,000 hours to put together;
  • Accidentally reformatted a server;
  • Fell asleep in front of the boss during a presentation;
  • Missed a decimal point on an estimated payment and the client overpaid by $1 million;
  • Accidentally paid everyone twice;
  • Talked about a client thinking the phone was on mute when it wasn't; and
  • Ordered 500 more computers than were needed.

Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps, suggests talking to employees individually to come up with solutions. "Offering a more flexible schedule may alleviate long and costly commutes. Bringing temporary staff on board may cut down on working after-hours. Reorganizing current priorities may lead to more manageable workloads," he says.

The survey included responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.