How Company Sleep Health Policies Make Corporations More Productive
Companies looking for a way to increase employee productivity and have more effective management don’t need to look any further than their employees’ bedrooms. We spend a third of our lives sleeping and how well rested we are and how well we sleep has a direct correlation to how well we perform in our daily lives. To put it simply, a well-rested workforce will outperform an exhausted one every single time.
Corporations that focus on company sleep health for employees whether it’s by incentivizing sleep by giving employees who get seven or more hours of sleep a night for a certain number of nights a bonus or by creating a corporate culture where sleep is protected have happier and more productive employees. According to a survey by the Centre for Disease Control in the US, 30% of the civilian adult workforce reported getting 6 hours of sleep or less per night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night for optimum performance. In a national study, a whopping 83% of executives surveyed said that their company wasn’t doing enough to promote sleep. A further 36% of executives went so far as to say that their employers had policies in place that made it hard for them to prioritize their own sleep.
Society is wearing sleep deprivation as a badge of honour and employers need to understand that their staff is their company’s biggest asset.
Work interference with sleep happens at all levels of the corporate chain of command – from shift workers in retail establishments who have to deal with constantly changing shifts that prevent them from getting into a consistent sleep pattern, to executives who feel that they have to be on call 24/7 and answer work emails even when they’re off the clock. Almost half (47%) of the respondents to the McKinsey survey said that their company expects them to be “on” too often and for too long – especially with regards to emails and phone calls. This should be on the radar of all companies because a recent study by the Harvard Business review showed that 96% of executives reported some degree of burnout, and 33% reported feeling “extremely burnt out”. Some of the burnt out feeling is directly attributable to a lack of quality sleep. The more sleep-deprived you are, the more likely you are to react to a situation emotionally instead of rationally – which leads directly to feeling more stressed, which leads to poor quality sleep. It’s a vicious cycle – and one that can be very hard to change because it is at least partly our expectation that executives be “worn out” by the demands of the job.
Presenteeism is at Epidemic Levels in Our Society
And it’s not just people coming to work sick causing it. Coming to work groggy after only a few hours’ sleep is as harmful to cognitive functioning as knocking back a few alcoholic drinks with lunch. This is especially true if your work involves higher order thinking or reasoning. Neuroscientists have mapped the brain and found that the prefrontal cortex – home to executive functioning – is particularly sensitive to sleep disruptions. A few nights of not getting enough sleep decreases problem solving abilities, increases the probability of taking big risks, and damages the ability to accurately read the emotions of others. Are these the kind of traits that we want in corporate leadership? Not at all, yet that’s what we get when we expect management to be on call 24/7. Even worse, it gets passed down to the rest of the company as part of the corporate culture when the CEO is sending emails at 2 am and never taking a vacation day. That becomes a benchmark of acceptability and soon emails are coming at all hours of the day and night and vacations are going unused. The whole company becomes sleep deprived and productivity declines, employee happiness declines, and turnover happens as a result.
Find Out Why Companies Like Bayer and Eaton are Sleeping Better Thanks to Good Night Sleep Site. Book Your Corporate Sleep Health Lunch and Learn Here and Create a Better Rested Workplace.
So what can companies do to help their workforce get a better night’s sleep? More than you may think. By making some changes in the workplace and giving employees access to corporate sleep health information to allow them to make changes in their home lives, employees become empowered to take control of their sleep. For example, restricting when employees can send emails after hours, setting work time limits (hard deadlines after which no employees should be working in or out of the office), making sure all employees use their vacation time and are work-free during their vacation (no checking in), creating nap rooms or pods within the office space for employees, and offering incentives or discounts for employees who use smart devices to track their sleep schedules. Other strategies that can help send a message of corporate investment into employee sleep include allowing employees to take an earlier flight and miss some of the previous workday instead of insisting upon a redeye flight for an international meeting will help the employee get to the destination and get a good night’s sleep before the meeting.
Another option is to hire Good Night Sleep Site to provide information and strategies that employees can use to get a better night’s sleep.
Insufficient sleep is not only a drain on productivity, it can also lead to increased health care costs so companies with sleep protecting and enhancing policies not only help their employees, but they also benefit their own bottom lines. Investing in human capital with sleep friendly corporate policies will pay dividends long into the future.
 Middlemiss, Nicola. “Insurance Giant Offers Sleepy Salary-boost.” HRM Online. April 11, 2016. Accessed April 16, 2016. http://www.hrmonline.ca/hr-news/insurance-giant-offers-sleepy-salaryboost-205607.aspx#.VwudQ9hXsNI.facebook.
 Rothstein, Nancy H. “The ROI of a Good Night’s Sleep.” The ROI of a Good Night’s Sleep. Accessed April 18, 2016. http://www.circadian.com/blog/item/56-the-roi-of-a-good-nights-sleep.html#.VxUjjTArLIX.
 Che, Jenny. “Even A Company Known For Overworking People Is Embracing Sleep.” The Huffington Post, March 14, 2016. Accessed April 14, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mckinsey-sleep_us_56e3345de4b0b25c9181fa48.
 Van Dam, Nick, and Els Van Der Helm. “The Organizational Cost of Insufficient Sleep.” McKinsey & Company. February 2016. Accessed April 16, 2016. http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-organizational-cost-of-insufficient-sleep#0.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site. Join our movement and #BringBackBedtime.