An employee's sleeping habits might seem like a personal issue for them to manage, but in fact employers should start prioritising workers' 'sleep health' if they want to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.
While I can't tell you why sleep is still being overlooked as a health issue by many employers, I can give you hard evidence as to why this needs to change, as well as tips from an expert on how to do it.
US researchers recently confirmed previous findings that disrupted or insufficient sleep was associated with a greater likelihood of absenteeism and lower work performance.
They found that even people who "seldom" had trouble sleeping took up to six days off work, and that sleep disturbances were linked to increased errors or incidents at work, and more health problems.
But the link between sleep problems and presenteeism was even "more concerning", they said.
The "presenteeism problem" is more costly to employers, because they're paying employees who take longer to complete their tasks, and can be liable for any errors or disabilities caused by workers who are cognitively or physically fatigued.
The evidence is there. Trouble sleeping negatively affects not only workers, but their employers too. So why are many employers still not targeting the issue?
According to the researchers, most of the US employers offering lifestyle management initiatives at work target nutrition or weight management, smoking cessation and fitness, but not sleep.
They recommended, therefore, that employers start including sleep improvement interventions in their health and wellbeing programs.
Psychologist and People Diagnostix managing director Jason van Schie made the same recommendation during a workplace health conference I attended last week: employers really need to start focusing on sleep health in their workplace initiatives.
Interestingly, he said employers should prioritise targeting poor sleep over other issues such as diet and exercise.
Poor sleep has a "far faster [negative] effect on someone's wellbeing and productivity than poor diet or [limited] exercise", he said.
"Let's address the sleep issue first, and then you'll find that person might have a little bit more energy and motivation to do some of these other health exercises."
To improve workers' sleep, van Schie said employers should:
He said employers should encourage employees to:
By taking these steps, employers can "reap massive rewards" in terms of increasing work productivity and improving wellbeing, van Schie said.
(OHS Alert subscribers can read articles on these issues in full by clicking the links above, or start a trial subscription to gain access.)
Add a Comment