Humor us for a moment and set down that mug of steaming coffee before you keep reading. You know as well as we do that no amount of caffeine will perk you up if you’re feeling sleep deprived. Whether it’s late night work, midnight Netflix bingeing, a crying baby, or snoring partner, stress, or any other regular disruption to quality sleep, it’s likely your bad sleep habits are ruining your career.
The importance of sleep is a big topic these days. Lots of people from our own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau to Arianna Huffington, are talking about the role downtime, in particular sleep, plays in our lives. We all know that, in business, there are some corporate cultures and indeed some industries, (yes, lawyers, we’re looking at you) that promote the idea of work as a competitive sport. The “winners” are bragging about how little sleep they get and how many hours they log. Here at Blue Ocean, we’re not playing that game, but we do seem to have a predisposition for hiring insomniacs judging from the number of emails that fly around between the hours of 11 pm and six am. So what gives? Is this good for us? Or could respect for a good night’s sleep give us a leg up?
Our own experience plus the myriad of sleep studies out there tell us some important things about the consequences of bad sleep habits.
In the contact center business, empathy is our bread and butter. Whether you’re an agent supporting a consumer with a crisis, or a coach supporting an agent, or a project manager supporting a client through a critical business issue, empathy is a valuable asset. Research tells us that emotional intelligence – particularly the capacity for empathy – is reduced when a person is sleep deprived. In fact, your overall interpersonal skills are compromised when you’re sleep deprived. Getting consistently decent sleep is like refilling your tank when it comes to empathy, understanding, and patience.
Interpersonal skills are the just the beginning. Overall reaction to stress is also affected by sleep deprivation. This matters to us because we know perfectly well how much pressure our agents often experience. We go to great lengths to reduce this stress, but call volume spikes and peak seasons – even as carefully as we predict, plan for, and respond to them – are a strain on our agents, coaches, and managers.
When you add sleep deprivation into the mix with high stress, you’re treading into burn-out territory. Whatever position you’re in, entry level or executive office, burn out can push you to making a career change that is essentially reactionary. Moving away from something in your career is never as positive as moving toward something. Thinking about changing jobs because you’re feeling burnt out is the ultimate “sleep on it” scenario.
When bad sleep habits lead to a lack of focus and impaired memory, achieving high performance results gets more challenging. In our business, every day is new game. The stakes are high and there are a million moving parts. With individual and team targets that can range from Average Handle Time to CSat scores to Grade of Service, the daily and weekly pressures to perform are intense.
Lose focus and meeting your metrics just got a whole lot harder. No matter what business you’re in, an ability to focus is often what separates the champions from the also-rans.
This one’s a no-brainer. No matter what your job, absenteeism is always a problem employers want to avoid. At Blue Ocean, where our workforce management teams work diligently to align agent shifts with peaks and valleys in call volume, combating absenteeism is priority. But agents aren’t the only ones who should worry. We have a saying in our onboarding program – it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job if you aren’t here to do it. And that applies to every level.
While we totally understand and plan for the inevitably of people getting sick, we also recognize that sleep deprivation significantly impacts your health. From the common cold and nasty viruses to other major health concerns, your immune system is vital to how you perform in everyday life and work. Make a habit out of the lack of sleep, and your risk of sickness increases. It’s as simple as that.
We all have our off days, but when a lack of sleep becomes a regular habit, it’s hard to be your best at the office. We give our employees the upper hand as much as possible, with an awesome work environment and perks, but we know that the foundation of great work experience starts the moment you roll out of bed. And if you roll out exhausted, it’s only a matter of time until those bad sleep habits are ruining your career.