By Alice Williams

The key to increasing employee productivity lies not in micromanaging but in providing opportunities and rewards to employees who prioritize their health through exercise, diet, and sleep. Most corporate wellness programs focus on diet and exercise, but the importance of sleep is often neglected.

Making sure employees get seven to eight hours of sleep consistently helps ensure that they have higher productivity and efficiency. The recognition of the power of sleep on employee productivity has led to the installation of nap rooms in some of the most innovative companies in the country.

If you’re interested in this growing trend, here’s a closer look at why it’s so popular—and how you can get your employees on board.

Why Should You Encourage Your Employees to Get More Sleep?

While exercise and a balanced diet are essential for the health of an employee’s body, sleep is essential for the health of an employee’s brain.

They Make Fewer Mistakes

When an employee is fully rested, they are able to focus and complete tasks correctly. The opposite is also true—sleep-deprived employees make more mistakes and take longer to complete tasks. That is why sleep deprivation is a serious work hazard in many fields. When your brain is tired, there is not enough coffee in the world to replicate the focus and clarity you get with a full night’s sleep.

They Are More Productive

With more sleep and access to napping places, employees are more productive than their nap-free or sleep-deprived peers. It may seem like an oxymoron, but sleeping on the job helps your employees be better at what they do.

What Can You Do to Encourage Your Employees to Get More Sleep?

Most employers don’t seek to exert influence on the lives of their employees outside of work for obvious legal reasons. Yet what employees do outside of the office will impact the quality of their work. So it behooves employers to enable and reward behaviors like healthy eating, exercise, and sleep through wellness programs, gym memberships, healthy work snacks, and nap rooms.

Here are some ways you can specifically encourage your employees to get more sleep.

Manage Workload and Bandwidth

Assess how often your employees work more than 40 hours a week and how often they take work home with them. If a large number of employees work more than 40 hours, you likely have a large cohort of workers that are sleep deprived and thus working below their capacity. It is in the best interest of both your staff and your company to ensure your employees are only working 40 hours a week and that they rarely feel the need to take work home with them.

Include Sleep Management as Part of Your Wellness Plan

If your wellness plan does not reward employees for going to bed the way it does for going to the gym or losing weight, it needs to be updated. Well-balanced wellness initiatives prioritize sleep alongside diet and exercise. To up the ante, consider rewarding the best-rested employee with a new mattress.

Create Space in Your Office for Naps

Many employers are hesitant to encourage napping while at work because they are scared of the message it sends to employees—that they’re are allowed to “slack off.” But equating napping with laziness is rooted in outdated industrial revolution-era notions of work and rest. We know now that productivity and efficiency decrease the longer employees work without breaks and rest.

As counterintuitive as it seems, creating spaces where employees can take a power nap (20 to 60 minutes of sleep, usually after eating) refreshes their brains and helps them be productive all day long—not just in the morning when they’re riding a caffeine high.

Practice What You Preach

As a leader, you lead best through example. If you want employees to work 40-hour weeks, you should work 40-hour weeks. Your employees should see you enter and leave the office at the same time they do. If you have couches or spaces where you can rest, nap there after lunch regularly. Only by seeing you model what sleep prioritization looks like will your employees be encouraged to follow.

It may seem like a great risk to encourage your employees to take naps when they need them or prioritize sleep over work, but in the end, well-rested and happy employees make more efficient and productive employees. Sometimes common sense is the riskiest endeavor of all.

 Alice Williams has written in-depth on a wide variety of topics which include business, technology and social media. She has a masters degree in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University. Follow her at @1alicehw.