There's an epidemic running rampant in the workplace, and if you just close your eyes, you'll know what it is.

A survey from Ceridian LifeWorks, , a wellness/EAP program unit of consultant Ceridian, found that more than 30 percent of human resource leaders have witnessed or heard about a co-worker falling asleep on the job in the past six months. All told, the sleep deficiency epidemic is robbing corporate North America of $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity, according to Harvard University researchers.

The Ceridian survey also found:

  • 35 percent of respondents said sleep deficiency had negatively affected productivity;
  • 31 percent either witnessed or heard about an employer falling asleep on the job in the last six months;
  • 33 percent who schedule shift work said they factored in a good night's sleep in their scheduling;
  • 21 percent said their scheduling flies in the face of "human circadian rhythms," which does not promote good sleeping habits;
  • 60 percent don't offer tools and services to support good sleeping habits;
  • 35 percent is the average number of respondents reporting sleeping on the job, but that dropped to 28 percent when companies offered supporting services for good sleeping habits;

"A good night of sleep is vital for engaged, productive and healthy employees," said Estelle Morrison, vice president of Ceridian LifeWorks. "While businesses make expensive investments in programs and technology to boost productivity, this survey reinforces the need for companies to take seriously the issue of sleep deprivation and promote healthy sleep habits in the workplace."

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.