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Sleep Can Affect the Workplace

“Sleep is for the weak” is a phrase commonly used to influence people to stay awake for longer hours, but have we considered the toll that a lack of sleep can take on health? At this year’s food nutrition conference and expo, there was session titled, Best of the Rest, that proposed sleep being a piece of the health puzzle with food choices and exercise too, presented by Dr. Michael Grandner.

Sleep is a biological process that starts with our sleep drive and our biological clock.  In this process, our body recovers and repairs from the day. So, what are the consequences of a lack of sleep?

Nutritionally, a lack of sleep can impair the immune system, putting us at a higher risk of getting sick. Also, those who aren’t getting enough sleep tend to gain weight and have higher susceptibility to chronic health conditions like obesity and hypertension. Not only are there health consequences (higher disability and insurance costs), but exhausted employees can have just as much of a negative impact on the workplace environment (productivity levels, falls, mistakes)

A lack of sleep increases our sleep drive, meaning, we feel more tired as we go about our day. Our brain is constantly sending signals to the body that we need rest. This is why we have a harder time concentrating when we are tired. Inadequate sleep makes it difficult to make complex decisions, resulting in a lack of effective communication amongst team members. This can hinder productivity levels and set the tone of their environment daily. Currently, over 30% of people don’t get good sleep.

 Steps that can be taken to ensure you and your team members get your z’s?

  1. Your work environments-consider the design of Zen gardens and rest venues. Napping boosts alertness and accuracy.  Nappers are more alert, respond faster and better, and make fewer mistakes. Even a 20-minute nap was found to improve alertness and performance among shift workers.
  2. Replicate these type of design for employees -Recharge rooms, nap pods.
  3. Inservice training included with orientations, etc. to educate what can tips to  get a better-quality sleep.
  4. picking an optimal time and amount of sleep. The recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours for adults.
  5. Minimize any light exposure during sleep can also disturb the sleep cycle.
  6. Avoid smart devices or tv screens before going to sleep
  7. Minimize or avoid smoking and alcohol several hours before your bedtime

Keep in mind that these recommendations go hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle, food options and exercise. Promoting lifestyle practices in the workplace can have plenty of benefits including: reduced health care costs, increased concentration for effective decision making and overall, higher workplace productivity.

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Milliseconds and Millimeters Matter

Ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely — also called biotechnology, human engineering, or human factors. Ergonomics affects all ages, all professions and all aspects of daily living.


Human Factors

Consider these conditions/requirements when evaluating equipment:

The goal is to monitor all work activities that permit the worker to adopt several different, but equally healthy and safe postures. Identify where muscular force has to be exerted, localize it to the largest appropriate muscle groups available. Where motion is performed, target the joints at about mid-point of their range of movement, particularly for the head, trunk, and upper limbs.


Lost or Found $$$

When making a decision to select equipment, one key objective is; get most done in the shortest amount of time in the most efficient manner. There are many nuances that may attribute to a lower price for a piece of equipment however, these attributes may in fact result in a higher Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Will this specific product increase or decrease:

  • Productivity
  • FTE's
  • Injuries/Call Offs
  • Errors/Mistakes
  • Cleaning Times
  • Maintenance

If any result in an increase, “Houston, we may have a problem.”


Time is money! Distance is time!

If the equipment happens to be “X” millimeters wider/longer/taller/shorter, and, this results in an increase or decrease by “Y” milliseconds to complete a task, what is that cost or gain to the operation?

Although a few mm or ms may appear insignificant initially, an increase, positive or negative, by example, reduce or add 400 milliseconds to complete a task (the time it takes to blink), repeated say, 1,000 times per meal period, that’s 400k milliseconds for the meal period, about 6.7 minutes. 6.7 minutes, no big deal, right? Then, multiply this by three meal periods and that’s 20 minutes per day. Still not a lot of time but you could get quite a bit done with 20 minutes of “found time” each day.

Let’s take this example a bit further. 20 minutes a day translates to 7,300 minutes per year, 122 hours. Over a seven year life-span for the piece of equipment, that totals 850 hours +/-. If the average wage is $15/hr, that’s $12,750. You can add or subtract this from your TCO to help make your decision.

Considering this one example, multiplied by each work station, for multiple tasks per station, and suddenly, you have good reason to look very closely into the ergonomic impact of every piece of equipment.

Use these findings to reduce FTE’s or repurpose work assignments. Either way, you have a “win.”


By The Way

Also, imagine if you could reduce one call-off per year per FTE due to reduction in back injuries, that’s another 56 hours added to your bottom line.

How about one less “call back tray or courtesy tray” per meal period? … that’s $15/day, $450/month, $5,475/year in direct cost savings.


Help

There are solutions, the Alexander Technique, a training program to help individuals to better understand how their bodies react to work/stress and how to avoid habits that negatively impact their well-being.

The right meal assembly set up can reduce minutes and increase time to get meals to patients. Modifiable equipment that works with your people. No one size fits all. Alluserv’s is ready to help! Modifiable tray starter stations, heights and widths for meal delivery carts, tray lines, etc...