Why should organisations be improving sleep of their employees’ this year

Recognizing sleep as a performance enhancing activity to strengthen cognitive abilities, better mood, work life balance and resilience.

It’s the start of a new decade and time of the year when when most organisations plan training programs to increase employees’ well-being and productivity. New year goals,Personal or professional are usually the same old stuff of yester years, mostly focusing on being healthier, happier, successful or lose weight, exercise more,diet/ IF/Keto, nutrition, yoga and meditation or even Zumba! All these great are ideas! What if you could pick resolutions and goals that are smarter and lead to lifetime results instead of temporary changes that you mange to stick to for just a few days or weeks? How about you snooze your way to success in 2020 by taking a sleep leap to start off the smart way !

Yes, you read it right, sleep is the new awake and in this article I, simplify the science and art of sleep. While programs cantered on work-life balance and employee health and well-being have already occupied the center stage in the organisations in their quest to increase productivity and engagement, reduce absenteeism and decrease health care costs, I argue that none of this can be achieved with sleepless employee working in a constant state to wakeful slumber and living on coffee to coffee!

Sleeplessness is so taken for granted in corporate world that no one really takes it seriously unless it becomes a chronic condition.

So, here is why organisations should be investing in the sleep health of their leaders and teams which will ultimately lead to better performance, resilience and organizational success. Sleep is an important area of focus in occupational medicine.

The one-third of our lives that we spend sleeping, far from being “passive and unproductive,” plays a direct role in how energetic and successful we are in the other two-thirds of our lives and yet you pay a limited attention to your sleep. And the current age range of workforce present significant sleep challenges. This is an important population in terms of productivity, performance and the future of our economy. The new 24-hr , hyper-connected, “sleepless”, “FOMO” lifestyle norm clashes with the normal of physiological changes and adversely affect individuals in the Millennial age range, and together these factors can easily play havoc on one’s sleep health.

Studies have shown associations between employees’ sleep disturbances and a wide variety of negative occupational outcomes, including (1) absenteeism, (2) decreased productivity or presenteeism, (3) accidents and injuries, and (4) increased healthcare costs. According to a recent World Economic Forum report emphasizing chronic disease prevention at work sites as a strategy to enhance workforce wellness and performance, insufficient sleep is one of the eight major employee behaviors that employers should invest resources to address, to significantly reduce health care cost and increase productivity.

Apparently insufficient sleep in workforce is taking a toll on the Economy. Because of the potential adverse effects of insufficient sleep on health, well-being and productivity, the consequences of sleep deprivation have far-reaching and expensive economic consequences. But it’s the impact it has on productivity and efficiency which is starting to make some companies revise their approach towards sleep and rest. Lack of sleep costs most developed nations about 2% of their GDP annually.

U.S. topped the chart with the biggest financial losses — up to $411 billion, which is 2.28 per cent of its GDP— and most working days lost (1.2 million) due to sleep deprivation. Productivity losses at work occur through a combination of absenteeism and something referred to as “presenteeism”, in which employees are on the job but working at a suboptimal level.

The importance of sleep is undeniable!

Unfortunately, the topic of sleep is still majorly missing in Organisation’s EWB programs. The biggest roadblock is our ignorant society! A very limited regard is given to sleep as our society remains a vast reservoir of ignorance about sleep health and sleep disorders. Millions of people are suffering and thousands are dying each year without knowing the true cause of their problems.

Investing in and improving your employees’ sleep comes with a huge ROI. Apart from improving their physical and mental health (which will lead to lower absenteeism, presenteeism, and lower health costs), they will also be more productive, creative, have better mood and emotional quotient. All this will foster innovation and result in better team engagement and overall positive working environment.

Small changes to sleep duration could have a far-reaching positive impact on the economy. For example, if individuals that slept under six hours started sleeping six to seven hours then this could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy, $75.7 billion to the Japanese economy, $34.1 billion to the German economy, $29.9 billion to the UK economy and $12 billion to the Canadian economy.

India, still lacks sleep improvement interventions as one of the essential lifestyle changes offered in Organisation’s EWP, to promote health and productivity of the employees. Therefore, I am urging Organisations to put sleep on the agenda, leading to employees being healthier, more productive and happier by:

  • Creating a work culture which promotes healthy sleep.
  • Creating an environment that puts sleep and mental health first and regards good sleep as a badge of honor.
  • Develop Employee Wellness Programs (EWP)- Incorporate sleep improvement intervention as one of the essential health behavior along with lifestyle changes to promote health and productivity of the large employee population.
  • Supercharge well-being and performance of employees by designing a system that helps to reduce stress and build resilience by attaining the best quality sleep possible in the time they have available

I, argue that sleep should be an organizational priority and be covered in their health and well-being programs because it directly increases the effectiveness of all other health efforts.

I hope this article changes your view on sleep and initiate talks on this topic and also help you to acknowledge it as a silent epidemic ruining your organizations’ health and performance. Also, recommendations made here will help create a new “sleep smart culture” and witness the immense power of well rested and happy leaders and teams.

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