Daylight Savings Time Is Costing Businesses Productivity

Daylight Savings Time (DST) was created to save energy globally. However, over the past decade, it has become a topic of debate among politicians, businesses, and citizens in many countries that implement this time shift. With DST approaching, individuals who relish sleep will groan at the precious lost hour. And research suggests that businesses will bear the burden of that lost time. David T. Wagner of the Organizational and Behavior and Human Resources Area at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business in Singapore believes that the 1 hour of lost sleep causes employees to be significantly less productive immediately following the shift to DST. Cyberloafing is a term used to describe unproductive work time. Lost productivity in the workplace used to be attributed to long lunch breaks, too much time at the water cooler, or personal phone calls on business time. But in this modern world, cyberloafing is the direct result of personal searches (non–business related) on the Internet. Wagner recently conducted a study to determine if the sleep disruption caused by DST results in increased cyberloafing.

Wagner analyzed data from the Monday preceding DST and the Monday immediately following DST over a 6-year period. He found that employees who had access to a computer engaged in significantly more cyberloafing the Monday after DST than the Monday before. However, he also discovered that in highly conscientious participants, the disruption in sleep did not increase the level of cyberloafing. The findings suggest that lost sleep negatively impacts work productivity. Many managers will push employees harder when productivity is down, thus causing them to lose more sleep, and ultimately, be less productive. Wagner believes the key to breaking this cycle is for employers to be aware of the effects of DST and ensure that their employees are given the opportunity, via breaks or downtime, to get the rest they need. Tired, unproductive employees can influence the climate and mood of the entire organization and lead to conflict, harassment, and even unethical activities. Wagner added, “Thus, we encourage policy makers to revisit the costs and benefits of implementing DST, and we encourage managers to consider how they can facilitate greater employee self-regulation by ensuring that employees get good sleep.”

Wagner, D. T., Barnes, C. M., Lim, V. K. G., & Ferris, D. L. (2012). Lost Sleep and Cyberloafing: Evidence From the Laboratory and a Daylight Saving Time Quasi-Experiment. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0027557

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  • Sharon

    March 6th, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    Ok please! One hour costing businesses that much in productivity? I am having a hard time with that. One hour is just that, one hour and easy to make up. I think it is just an excuse for people to be lazy- that seems to be what most of the people I work with are looking for, just an excuse to slack off some.

  • Vinnie R

    March 6th, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Aaah, daylight savings time, the Monday after the Super Bowl, the greatest days for goofing off at work ever because everyone feels rotten!

  • Yasi

    March 6th, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Started for energy saving huh?
    Well I for one find it energy zapping at least until the time that I get readjusted to the time change.
    Why can’t we just leave the time the way it is?
    I like the long evenings too, but they naturally get longer as summer approaches so why not go with that?
    Or if it is all about conserving energy why not keep the time like this all of the time and make dst real time?
    That would permanently solve the problem.


    March 6th, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    If this one hour shift in time is of so much concern then imagine what all the extra pushing by organizations for their employees I work more and more with threats of lay offs does to productivity! I’ve always believed that employees that are under no stress would perform a lot better than those who are constantly pushed to do more!

  • Gemma

    March 7th, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Ok so we all know that we may get a little slack at this time of year but for me it is not about losing the hour of sleep or piddling around the Monday after the time change. For me it is all about the extra sunlight and all of my wishing to be outside in it. Wonder if we could move the work stuff outside during the first couple of weeks of spring if that would make us all a little more productive?

  • Carlos

    March 8th, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    In some South American and European countries afternoon naps are not just encouraged but they are a way of life. So are more weeks of vacation! And they are so much more productive than some of their American counterparts.

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