"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 40.6 million American workers, or 30% of the civilian workforce don't get enough rest. And the Harvard scientists estimated in 2011 that sleep deprivation costs U.S. companies $63.2 billion in lost productivity per year, mainly because of ... people showing up for work but operating at subpar levels." - Lauren Weber, The Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2013. Here is the article.
There is the all-nighter at the law firm which is completely filled with work. Then there is the all-nighter at home which consists of fretting about whatever. Those who experience the latter will show up for work that morning. But likely they will, research shows, function at a subpar level.
Managing partners can experiment with types of lullabies, metaphorically speaking.
For example, they can reduce angst and uncertainty by being straight with lawyers and staff about their performance. In his book "Inside Straight," former Jones Day partner Mark Herrmann, now in-house at Aon, explains that's not what typically happens. For any number of reasons, both Machiavellian and intended as kind, law firm employees don't know how they are being perceived.
Of course, they will lose sleep over that. As the cliché hammers: The truth will set them free - to deal with reality instead of wrestling with what-if scenarios all-night. Once I was informed I was on the RIF list at Kraft, I started sleeping again.
Another kind of lullabie is being present for the workforce. That reassures that someone cares. Not that it's a love-in. What's established is a feeling of safety. Secure people can sleep at night.
A third is reducing extreme overwork. Wall Street is being forced to admit that the ethos of serial all-nighters might not be a plus in the organizational culture.
A law firm might try to differentiate itself from its bone-weary competition by showcasing a well-rested workforce. Its advertising in airports can gush: "Our lawyers sleep at night, so they can give full attention to the nuances of your case. Our win rate is 95%."