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Sleeping on Duty

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By Janet Adetu

Are you overwhelmed, exhausted or even sleep deprived?

At times, you feel there is not enough hours in the day to accomplish all you set out to do. You may have to take work home meaning the day never ends as work continues endlessly. Stringent deadlines and work overload are major reasons why when working you still do not know when to draw the line and rest.

It could also be the nature of your job that requires long work hours at a stretch, that if care is not taken you will begin to wear yourself out slowly and gradually. It is situations like this that make you sneak a power nap or two at unsolicited times. The body simply shuts down when it has had enough, after all we are only human.

The main issue here however is when you take that nap at the wrong time and wrong place, especially while on duty.

The implications of sleeping while on duty or while on the job can be major. I remember visiting an office and spending 10 – 15 minutes waiting to drive in. I was sure nobody was in the office after several attempts at registering our presence at the gate.

Finally after making calls to the client we discovered the security man did not open the gate because ….yes you guessed right he was fast asleep while on duty. Can you imagine the security risk that this one staff poses on the entire company due to negligence?

As an employer, what do you do if you catch your employee sleeping on duty?

Are there policies in your organization around official naptimes during break or is it strictly prohibited? Is this a punishable offence?

Imagine walking into your office reception and finding the receptionist dozing off, what impression will you have of your company and your staff sleeping too? This is the very act that can sabotage your companies professional outlook.

As an employee suffering from insomnia at night, only to doze off in the office in the morning. You compromise your position, you jeopardize your role, and position yourself for poor assessment where and when it matters most.

This is not a practice that should be encouraged as it can change the entire dynamics of your organization. Many job roles fall victim of sleeping on duty like uniformed personnel, the pilot, bus driver, medical doctors, surgeons and the likes.

Sadly I once went to the hospital in the evening and the consultant on duty asleep. I understand that medical practioners are allowed to take a nap when not on dity but to my surpise this young doctor was caught lying on the patient bed with a bedsheet on him too. This story gets longer but for another day.
Possible reasons why you may sleep on duty

There are genuine reasons why someone may be tired and may want to sleep. Though highlighted here for reference they are strictly not excuses for sleeping while on duty. Permission must be sought to leave the premises of the organization to take care of the issues causing the sleepiness at once. Let me mention a few of the common reasons:
i. Over exhaustion
ii. Poor diet
iii. Lack of exercise
iv. Current Medication
v. Medical condition
vi. Poor time management
vii. Alcohol
viii. Sleepiness nights
ix. Burnt out overtime
x. Travel time zone

Step to overcome sleeping on duty

Sleeping Policy
This is easily overlooked in many offices as it is not expected that this will occur. A policy to address this within offices must clearly state what is acceptable and what is not. The reputation and image of the organization is at stake here in positioning your brand. Include the policy in the staff handbook.

Depending on the staff category and the nature of the job, the magnitude of the grievance must be stated upfront. It could be from a stern warning, to suspension without pay or outright dismissal. Let this be communicated loud and clear and take no prisoners.

Display Company Core values
Many companies have their objectives and core values on paper assuming that the employees are in tune with this and follow the same values. It is important that everyone is on the same page and personal values are in sync with corporate values. It is good practice to publicly display company core values in and around the office premises.
Register your state of health

As an employee, these things do happen, if you can avoid it then do your best to do so. If this is a regular occurrence, then it calls for medical attention. Where you truly feeling too worn out to work it goes without saying do not drive operate machinery or engage in any activity that is dangerous to others.

Medication that influences sleep must never be taken while on the job, instead sick leave is required. It is indeed better to be safe than to be sorry for the sake of everyone. It is your duty to abide by all laid down rules.
Have you ever slept while on duty, what do you think was the cause?

I would love to hear from you.

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