What To Do If An Employee Falls Asleep At Work

Work can be exhausting. Clocking in every day, doing work that doesn’t make us excited, and thinking about unrelated life issues can cause us to zone out at work. Before you know it, a session to rest your eyes becomes a full-blown office nap. Employees don’t usually want to fall asleep at work, but sometimes the circumstances lead to it.

If The Employee Is Causing Immediate Danger To Themselves Or Others, Find A Way To Intervene

Often when an employee is asleep on the job, they are not a danger to themselves or others. Usually, employees are behind their desks, taking a nap or dosing off. If you notice someone falling asleep while using dangerous equipment, you need to wake them up or find a way to intervene. Loop in other people at work to determine what the best course of action is. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, because two injured people are not better than one.

Refer To Your Official Policy On Employees Falling Asleep At Work

Before you call out an employee for sleeping–refer to your official policy. Seeing an employee who is asleep at their desk may envoke various negative feelings, especially as a boss or company executive.

Instead of lashing out, refer to your policies. There are so many reasons why an employee might be asleep at work, and you want to make sure that your bases are covered before you make any statement. For example, if your employee falls asleep because of a medical issue, your company could be in trouble for firing an employee.

Check Your Office Environment

Many of us have nodded off because of the environment we are in. During the winter, offices are usually warmer than usual. Warm offices can cause us to be tired due to things like dehydration, trying to cool down, comfort, et cetera. Are you providing an office environment that is conducive to sleep without realizing it? If you don’t want employees to sleep on the job, you need to create an office environment that counteracts sleepiness.

Chat With The Employee

Next, you need to have a conversation with the employee. Most employees don’t fall asleep at work out of spite for the office. Often it’s because of being overworked, medical issues, or stress at home. Chat with your employees to understand what’s driving them to sleep at work. When we approach this topic by trying to understand our employees, instead of lashing out at them, we can accomplish more.

Try To Understand Their Circumstances

Listen with an empathetic ear. Get in their head to see why they fell asleep on the job. Instead of listing all the reasons you’d never fall asleep on the job, give them room to tell their side. You might discover there are things you could do better to support all of your employees.

Don’t assume they are falling asleep to get back at you or make you lose productivity. Consider what your employee has to say, and take it at face value.

Decide On A Reasonable Punishment

If you do not want to allow employees to nap at work, you need to come up with a reasonable punishment for sleeping on the job. Termination is not usually a fair punishment for sleeping on the job, as we talked about earlier, this could get your company in trouble. Instead, a verbal warning or write-up is usually all it takes. If you have someone who habitually sleeps on the job and you’ve made it clear that this behavior is unacceptable, you can take more drastic actions. Be careful and make sure you create a paper trail of evidence and write-ups to back up your termination, though.

Work On Your Company’s Work/Life Balance

Work/life balance is imperative if you want your employees to succeed. If your employees are working on projects every night, it will be hard for them to get the proper rest they need at home. A lack of work/life balance can bleed into work time in unexpected ways. Make sure every employee stops working after hours so they can feel refreshed and ready to tackle another day when it’s time to clock in.

Allow Your Employees To Nap To Increase Productivity

While napping at work seems detrimental, it’s not at all. Many companies like Google, Ben & Jerry’s, Cisco, and Zappos all have policies that allow for naps at work. Above all else, ask if the work is getting done. If your employee output is higher and your employees are happier, you are creating a fantastic work environment by allowing naps.

Be transparent with your employees–napping on the job is not an excuse for not getting work done on time. A nap is a tool your employees can use to refresh themselves, but not a tool to avoid work or fall behind on essential projects. Allowing naps doesn’t mean that you enable lackluster work or missed deadlines.

Communicate With Your Employees Often

Last but not least, communicate with your employees often. How can you best support them and their energy levels at work? Do you need to turn the thermostat down, provide a nap room at work, or provide coffee/energy drinks in the break room? What are some small things you can do to help everyone be more productive at work?


While everyone has their opinions about napping at work, it isn’t inherently bad. Your employees can nap at work and still accomplish amazing things. The conversation about naps at work needs to be more nuanced. Employees need to follow the rules, but employers need to investigate whether naps would make their office more productive.

Did You Know?

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