You Need A Study for This?

Published December 21, 2018

A study published this month in Occupational Health Science suggests that incivility at work – demeaning comments, sarcasm, talking over people and other rude behaviors – can adversely affect employees’ sleep. In another study that asked 1,000 people what about their jobs causes them to lose sleep, “workplace drama” ranked first for women and second for men, right behind project deadlines.

Companies care about this because well-rested employees are naturally more productive than sleep-deprived employees. But my reaction to such studies is, they needed studies for this?

There are many sources of workplace stress that cause us to lose sleep, and I bet we can name most of them without the benefit of a study. Being treated unfairly is a big one. Excessive workload could be another. Low pay, lack of advancement opportunity, too many meetings, cube instead of wall office – the list is virtually endless. And yes, rude treatment and office drama would be another source.

The conclusion drawn by these studies is even more striking: that companies can’t really do anything about workplace drama, so it is up to us to tamp down on office incivility ourselves to get enough sleep to put in a productive day’s work. Their advice basically comes down to trying to avoid the assholes if you can and trying harder to manage your emotions if you can’t.

Here’s my take: If companies took all the money they spend on studies and surveys and gave it to employees, we could all retire early. We’d probably sleep better too.