Sleeping at Work - Wow - Can you do that?

Sleeping at Work

Sleeping at work sounds relaxing - doesn’t it? Probably not a good idea though.

You would think that this is not something that you would find very often - but unfortunately - I have seen it often.

But before you jump to conclusions make sure the person isn't suffering from something that the ADA Law might protect such as; Sleep Apnia which causes a person to fall asleep without any warning. Of course this could be considered a safety issue, so be prepared to separate the issues and other some alternatives to overcome the ADA protections.

So yes, before you jump to conclusions and move forward into something that could get ugly, know what these are and see if your employee has one of them.

Now once you have a thorough understanding of what are sleeping disorders, sleep apnea, and what causes narcolepsy, and they don't have any of them then it is safe to move on.

Sleeping at Work - What’s your plan if you find them…


Photo by Shane on Unsplash

Many times when you discover someone you think is sleeping - it is very difficult to really determine that they are in fact sleeping.

So what do you do?

Well - what are the other possibilities - if you are not sure - Loafing - Willful Idleness - Wasting Time - could be just a few - and I am certain you could find more - based on your company’s Policies and Procedures and/or Employee Handbook. You have these - Right!

I would personally stay away from charging the employee with sleeping at work - if you did not observe them actually sleeping. So point is - it is not necessarily the point to focus in only on sleeping itself.

However - it is important if their job involves the safety of others - such as a boiler plant operator that falls asleep during their shift - or an ICU Nurse - a train engineer - you get the picture.

So if their in a position that could risk other peoples lives - it should certainly change the actions that you take - once you have determined that facts.

Sleeping at Work - I wasn’t sleeping…

I have never questioned one person that ever admitted that they were sleeping at work - except one - which is listed above - found snoring in a hotel room. My point is that they almost all deny sleeping. I guess my short answer to this is so what.

But - if you do not end with termination - it might be wise to find out what is going on - and how we can avoid this in the future.

As an example - does their assignment allow for them to go off by themselves often and for long periods of time - such as the boiler plant operator. In this example - why not have them report via telephone every so often to another department - and if the call doesn’t come in - something may be up.

Maybe have them fill out a log sheet more often that is time stamped by a mechanical device so it can not be pencil whipped - or add something to their assignment that requires them to make contact with someone - or check something.

The most effective way is for yourself to make unexpected rounds - so that it will always leave doubt in their minds if you are going to show up - unannounced.

It isn’t fail safe - but - put up barriers to help them - and help you.

Sleeping at Work - Ask about things you know…

When you sit down with them - ask them specific questions about what you know for sure - then move into what you don’t know.

As in our example - if the boiler plant operator was suppose to make rounds every 30 minutes and there is a gap in the time punch verifying this - or their call to the other department was ten minutes late - or the gauges recorded a high reading and they didn’t react to it.

My point is if you have set up barriers to help curtail sleeping at work - use those to find out what’s going on.

Now on the other hand - if you walk in on them laying down - it changes your line of questioning a little. Of course - the questions are very short if they are snoring.

Sleeping at Work - I observed you sleeping…

Ask them specific questions about what you observed - but I like to start off with - I observed you sleeping - and generally they will tell you everything else that happened - except the fact that they were sleeping. But during their confession - it almost always falls into other violations of your company policy - such as willful idleness. In their effort to avoid you knowing they are sleeping - they just start rambling.

Now this may not always work - but I have had great success with it.

Thank you and may God Bless you!

Oh My God! There Is Someone Lying Behind The Sofa!


Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash

Here is another experience that I had with someone that may have been sleeping at work...

I was touring the hospital with a Nurse Manager late one afternoon - and what we found was surely someone sleeping at work…

The Nurse Manager and I were touring to see what improvements we could make to the various areas.

As we entered a patient waiting room and began to look around - the Nurse Manager sort screams - Oh My God - there is someone lying behind the sofa…

About that time - up comes one of my employees - slowly lifting his head up from behind the sofa.

I almost fell over with surprise - what an embarrassment!

The Nurse Manager gave me one of those looks - like - wow you got some good employees.

Sleeping on the Job - You wait right here until I return…

I told him to wait right there until I returned. The Nurse Manager and I left the room and I excused myself so that I could go back and speak with him.

I returned to the room - to find him there very nervous and worried - as to what my reaction was going to be.

I must say that I was upset…

Since the employees belonged to a Union - I told him please find a union rep and meet me in my office in one hour.


Photo by Simon Infanger on Unsplash

Sleeping at Work - You just can’t make this stuff up…

Well in an hour he was there with his union rep.

I asked him - what was going on - why were you behind the sofa - and he responded - I trying to play a practical joke on my co-worker.

What kind of practical joke could you possibly be trying to play on them - I asked - and he responded that he had paged the co-worker that there was a spill in the room - and he was going to jump out and scare him when he came in.

I thought to myself - you just can’t make this kind of stuff up - he is the most creative story teller in the world - or he is telling me the truth.

Sleeping at Work - Verifying the story…

While he was sitting there I called the co-worker he was speaking about - and asked them - have you received any pages - and they responded yes.

I asked them from who - and he mentioned two - and one of them was from the employee to report to the patient waiting room for a spill.

I explained that this had the potential to harm a patient - since what if a patient had entered the room instead of us or the other employee and you had scared them.

Now maybe they had met and worked out the story - I don’t know - but I believed them.

I made a decision to issue an employee counseling to them for poor judgment.

As I look back on this situation - it always gives me a little smile - knowing that the employee was just trying to have a little fun at work.

Thank you and may God Bless you!

Surprise! I'll Bet You Never Expected The Director To Show Up!


Photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash

Here is an experience I had with an employee that possibly was sleeping at work...

Me - my boss - their boss - and then their boss - were conducting routine rounds - when we startled an employee - that may have been sleeping at work.

Here is how it happened…

We were inspecting the entire 8th floor of the hospital - going from one room to the next - inspecting for safety issues - housekeeping issues - maintenance issues - and so on.

If we came to a room that was locked - we would knock - and then use the master key to open it.

Sleeping at Work - The chair was still rocking…

As we made our way from room to room - we came to the room that the doctors use to sleep in when they have 24 hour duty. This room has a full size bed - television - desk with computer - rocker recliner - and bathroom with shower.

The door was locked - we knocked loudly - and received no answer - so we stuck the key into the door lock - and then the door came open.

It was a housekeeper - and when he saw all of us - you could tell he was startled.

As he greeted us - he said that he was just finishing up cleaning the room - and he quickly made his way out passed us and back toward his housekeeping closet - without any cleaning equipment at all

I quickly observed that the rocking chair had been moved in front of the television - his hat was laying on the bed along with the telephone which had been moved there also - the television was on - and there was no cleaning equipment in the room.

Sleeping at Work - I was checking my messages…

After completing our rounds - I contacted the employees supervisor - who reported to me - and I asked them to schedule a meeting quickly to speak with the employee.

When we met with the employee we asked them - what were you doing in the room - they without hesitation said they had just finished cleaning the room and they were checking their work related messages on the computer.

I then asked them why the chair had been moved - and he responded that is where he had found it when entered the room.

I then asked him why the telephone and their hat was on the bed - and he said that he must have left the phone there when he cleaned the night stand and because it was hot he had removed his hat.

We ended the fact finding meeting with them.

Sleeping at Work - On the surface his answers sound pretty good…

After - the supervisor and I went to examine the room again - to see if the story matched up - because we had some real question marks in our minds.

Once at the room - we tried to match up their story to what was there. The table that the computer was on was right by the door and was at least 7 feet from the rocking chair that was still rocking when he had opened the door. The computer was not on.

The telephone was stretched across the bed almost to the end of the telephone wire - and sitting right by the rocker at the end of the bed.

We examined the room again to see if it had been recently cleaned - and found that the trash was full - there was dirty linen in the hamper - and the shower was not clean.

Sleeping at Work - It is really important that you tell us the truth…

The supervisor and I invited the employee back to our office for a second time.

After setting down I asked them - tell me again - did you say that you had just finished cleaning the room - and they responded yes.

I then asked them - you had mentioned that you had taken the telephone off the night stand so that you could clean it right - and again they responded yes.

I asked them - you mentioned that when we knocked on the door and started to enter you were checking for work related messages - and they responded yes.

I then explained - if I were to tell you that there was no evidence that the room had been cleaned - nor did you have any cleaning equipment in the room - nor did you remove any when we saw you - that the telephone had been stretched clear across the bed - and the computer was off - what would be your response.

Before they could answer - I said to him - before you answer - let me make it crystal clear to you how important it is for you to tell me the truth now - because if we learn something different later it could impact you greatly. I did this while leaning forward and focusing in on him directly.

Sleeping at Work - You were relaxing in the chair and watching television…

Again before they could answer - I finished up with - you were sitting there relaxing in the rocker and watching television when we knocked on the door weren’t you - and they hung their head down a little and responded - yes - I’m sorry.

In this particular situation we did not terminate the employee - they were issued a written warning for willful idleness.

Thank you and may God Bless you!

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.