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Employees Don't Get Enough Sleep, and It's Your Fault One problem may be that 42 percent of U.S. employees surveyed said they didn't take a single vacation day in 2014.

By Heather R. Huhman Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Doctors recommend eight solid hours of sleep each night, but workers aren't clocking in. This lack of sleep is leaving employees less productive, unmotivated and more agitated with co-workers. So, who's to blame?

Related: Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You and Your Career

The answer is . . . work: A March survey on sleep and the U.S. workplace from CareerBuilder (conducted by Harris Poll) reported that 58 percent of 32,000 workers surveyed said they weren't getting enough sleep, and 61 percent said that sleep deprivation affected their work. For some, it's a vicious cycle: 44 percent of workers said that just thinking about work kept them up at night.

Sleep deprivation doesn't just hurt workers, it hurts business. Instead of offering more varieties of caffeine in the breakroom, perhaps companies should focus on getting to the bottom of all that employee yawning.

What's causing the lack of sleep?

All signs point to stress, and a workforce under pressure is a serious problem: In a study conducted by Monster.com in April 2014, 42 percent of 1,000 job seekers surveyed said they had left a job due to a stressful environment.

In addition, 46 percent said they had missed time at work due to work-related stress, while 61 percent said they believed stress at work had caused an illness.

Where does the stress come from?

Missing information. Problems with prioritizing tasks. Unrealistic goals for projects: These factors, which all contribute to a stressful, potentially sleep-damaging workplace, were highlighted in an October 2015 Wrike Work Management Survey in the United States

Related: Less Sleep May Mean More Risk of Colds and Infections

The survey showed that "missing information" was the No. 1 stressor for 1,400 workers surveyed. Other stressors cited in the survey as adding pressure to a workplace included unclear leadership, lack of collaboration and ever-changing deadlines.

Want to change that scenario at your company? Promote restfulness among employees by taking these steps.

1. Ensure that employees have a reasonable work schedule.

In many industries and roles, the eight-hour work day is a myth. Put a cap on the number of hours employees are working by managing schedules to ensure none work more than 10 hours each day, even if they're clocking-in at home.

Playing catch-up on the weekends won't positively impact the sleep cycles of your employees. Putting time in on the occasional Sunday is okay, but employees should be reminded to keep weekend work to a minimum and reevaluate their workloads with managers when necessary.

2. Offer more flexibility.

Flexibility can do wonders in the workplace. Ease the stress to promote rest by providing more options for flexibility. Offer the ability to work from home twice a week or a limited number of days per month. Also, establish a flex-time program to allow employees added control over their work hours, to boost personal productivity.

3. Make information more readily available.

Limit stress by improving the ease of access to relevant information. Using online employee engagement tools like Happy Mood Score can motivate and ensure a positive team management experience by improving the spread of information. Establishing an intranet can also help promote team and managerial communication.

4. Cut down on emails and meetings.

While essential to every workplace, overflowing inboxes and back-to-back meetings can be stressors to employees striving to fulfill their responsibilities and meet their deadlines. Address these stressors, then, by setting company-wide standards for communication and encouraging brief, face-to-face meetings and phone calls instead of drawn-out email discussions.

As for meetings, encourage employees to create and stick to firm agendas and avoid the "meeting-just-to-meet" mindset.

5. Provide employees time to recharge.

Did you know that 42 percent of Americans surveyed by Skift in January 2015 said they didn't take a single vacation day in 2014? Time outside of work can do wonders for minimizing stress and improving on-the-job performance. However, it can be challenging for stressed-out employees to step away from mountains of work and make time for recharging.

Consider the benefits paid-time off has on the sleep habits of your employees. For companies already offering a wealth of paid time off, set standards that encourage employees to actually use paid vacation time.

Related: 7 Ways to Cure 'Entrepreneur Insomnia'

Stressed-out, tired employees are a risk to businesses everywhere. Offering time to recharge, along with flexibility and a healthier workload, is an important step toward improving employee restfulness and easing your workplace pressures.
Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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