Digital growth and the importance of rest and sleep

Jane Bryden
Jane Brydon – HR Director for HEINEKEN UK, having been in post for the last 4 years is responsible for all aspects of the people agenda and core to that is the organisation’s approach to wellbeing – physical, mental, financial, social. Previous to that was the People and Communications Director for Sainsburys’ bank after doing a number of director roles in finance services including HBOS, Scottish Widows and Norwich Union.


As part of HEINEKEN UK, wellbeing is a core part of our agenda, and through our ‘WellBEing programme’ we aim to support the physical, mental and social health for our people, continuing to keep this on the conscience of our people managers and providing them with simple tools and techniques to ensure they are skilled and able to spot the signs that might be important when colleagues may have an issue on their minds. We are finding now that the topic of sleep and recovery is becoming an ever more important part of this agenda – and touches on all aspects of our physical, mental and social health

Sleep and recovery are important in many dimensions. At Heineken night shifts form part of a rotating shift pattern, and through our Shift Smart program, we aim to help colleagues adapt to the shifts by providing guidance to help improve sleep which will increase alertness and ultimately keep everyone safe. The preparation for the first night shift is important to reduce the potential build-up of fatigue and also the development of a routine for sleeping after a night shift ensures appropriate rest.

We also have a large colleague base for who driving is a key part of their role, and occupational road risk is a focus of our Life-Saving Rules. Again rest and good sleep is an important factor for safe driving, being well rested increasing driver alertness and reaction times.

But underpinning all of this and the result of a broader cultural issue which comes with the growth of digital and the speed and accessibility of work is the ‘always on’ culture, and therefore the self-discipline to be able to ‘switch off’ from work and able to have down time to rest and recover. These days the stresses of increased technology and the temptation to focus on our devices are becoming more of a burden on colleagues, and we are increasingly focusing on this with our leaders. This is all around BEING PRESENT. As a leader, being present for your colleagues in work – really present – really paying attention, means that the colleague has much better support and managers can create a great environment for their colleague, that’s about being attentive, inclusive and supportive. It is also about being present at home, actively switching off from work both physically and mentally, taking time to rest and taking time away from work. It is important for our leaders to role model good behaviours so our colleague can follow, simple disciplines which suit teams: no emails at weekends; no contact at weekends, finishing early some evenings to go home to the family, taking the kids for sport, going to the gym for example – but relax and downtime. Recovery is not always about sleep, but about relaxing too, although we also know that getting the right amount of sleep in the evening is good and essential for our mental and physical well-being. Healthy sleep, both in terms of quality and quantity is always important, and getting the right environment and using techniques which make it easier to get to sleep are important – again not using technology late at night!  

So sleep and recovery impacts all dimensions of working life, and the more we can share the messages time and time again that this is a core part of physical and mental well-being is something we will continue to strive to do.