March 30, 2017

Is Lack of Sleep Draining Your Employee Productivity?

By: Jordan Justus, MS - Director of Wellness

As an HR professional, you are likely interested in finding new ways to increase productivity and work quality among your organization’s employees. Research suggests that there is one simple step employers can take to accomplish these objectives: promote good sleeping habits.

Well-rested employees report that they are happier, less stressed, and more focused on the job, compared to their sleep-deprived colleagues.

Unfortunately, most American workers aren’t getting enough sleep at night.  According to a survey conducted by the Better Sleep Council, 49% of Americans feel that they don’t get enough sleep, while 56% of employed Americans experience at least one symptom of insomnia on a regular basis.  Furthermore, 79% of those surveyed stated that they would feel more prepared for the workday with one extra hour of sleep each night.  Clearly, healthy sleep habits are an important issue for many employees.

Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to the health of your employees.  Negative side effects associated with poor sleep include depression, irritability and low mood, decreased critical thinking skills and mental alertness, and chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.  Additionally, poor sleeping habits are associated with increased employee absenteeism.  

So, what can you do? If you want to think big picture, make sure you have open discussions with your tired team to determine how to remedy the situation.

Wellness programs are a great way to promote healthy lifestyle habits among employees, including their sleeping habits.  Most workers should aim for about 8 hours of sleep each night.  Sleep promotion initiatives can be added to your organization’s wellness program if poor sleep tends to be an issue among your employees.  

Healthcare staff at onsite clinics can also provide insomnia screening and treatment, as well as sleep education programs and counseling for employees. If there is a medical issue causing sleep deprivation, we can help to uncover it.

In addition, it is important for employers to adopt organization-wide policies that promote good sleeping habits. These include policies that decrease workplace stressors and encourage a healthy work-life balance, such as capping weekly work hours, allowing employees to occasionally work from home, and giving employees paid time off to recharge. Offering employees flexibility to increase their level of physical activity and engage in exercise during the workday can also be very helpful. This can range from having walking meetings or standing workstations, to encouraging lunchtime exercise such as running, walking, working out or doing yoga. An increase in physical activity can help promote good sleep habits.

Human resources managers can also consider starting an office-wide sleep challenge program, with incentives for those employees who make time for sleep.  Another option would be to offer employees stipends for sleep-promoting activities, such as massage therapy, gym memberships, and insomnia treatment.

Technology can also be a great way to promote healthy sleep habits among your employees.  New wearable tech devices are available to help people track and monitor their sleep habits.  These devices can provide insight into why an employee might not be sleeping well at night, and underscore the importance of a sound night’s sleep.  Consider offering wearable tech devices as part of your organization’s comprehensive wellness program.

In addition to improving employee retention and reducing absenteeism, good sleep habits among employees can also have a profound impact on your organization’s revenue.  A 2011 study by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies found that poor sleep quality can result in a productivity loss of $2,280 per worker, per year.

Because good sleeping habits are an integral aspect of a healthy lifestyle, employers should consider addressing sleep at their onsite clinics and wellness centers. At Healthstat, our wellness programs promote healthier lifestyles for employers and employees.

You can find more information on how wellness programs promote healthier lifestyles for employers and employees by downloading our guide to onsite clinics!