If you suspect some of your employees are struggling with sleep deprivation, chances are good you’re probably right. According to Gallup, a whopping 40 percent of U.S. adults rarely get over six hours of sleep a night.. This lack of sleep can affect productivity, performance, and even safety in the workplace. That’s why some employers are taking matters into their own hands by offering sleep benefits to employees. If this piques your interest, check out how it works.
Check out the kinds of benefits employers are expected to offer these days: Employee Benefits: Attracting New Talent and Creating Loyalty with Existing Employees
What’s a Workplace Sleep Benefit?
So, what is a workplace sleep benefit? Simply put, a sleep benefit is an employee benefit offering that helps staff members track—and hopefully improve—their sleep. One example of a provider with sleep benefit offering to employers that recently got my attention is Welltrinsic Sleep Network.
Welltrinisic Sleep Network is an online sleep wellness plan that is designed to make it easy for employees to monitor their sleep. They can use the online program to update a sleep diary to track the quality and quantity of sleep nightly. Users can either manually log their sleep, or upload the sleep tracking information from a Fitbit or other fitness tracker. Either way, in a world where tracking all things has become a bit of an obsession for us, it’s pretty easy to use programs like this to monitor sleep.
Sleep benefits aren’t the only unique benefits some employers offer. Take a look at another option that is increasingly common: Will Fertility Benefits Attract Women to a Workplace? Progyny Says Yes
Why Should Employers Consider Tracking Employee Sleep Habits?
It’s relatively easy to see why employers would want to track employee sleep habits, in fact, it’s a no-brainer. Adequate sleep can impact attitude and productivity, performance, attendance, and of course workplace safety. On a larger scale, sleep deprivation has a massive impact on the economy as a whole. Researchers at RAND Europe, part of Rand Corporation, conducted a first of its kind study published in 2016 looking at the economic impacts of sleep deprivation: Why Sleep Matters: The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep. According to the study, sleep deprivation not only leads to higher mortality rates, it absolutely lowers productivity. According to their research:
“A person who sleeps on average less than six hours a night has a 13 percent higher mortality risk than someone sleeping between seven and nine hours, while those sleeping between six and seven hours a day have a seven percent higher mortality risk.” The optimum, healthy daily sleep range is sleeping between seven to nine hours a night.
In the U.S., the RAND study reports that business losses due to sleep deprivation amount to about 1.2 million working days a year. To put that into dollars and cents, this sleep deprivation among the working population of the U.S. is costing the economy upwards of $411 billion a year, or some 2.28 percent of the country’s GDP.
This includes absentee employees, along with employees being present, but working at below optimal levels.
How Can Sleep Benefits Help Employees?
Sleep benefits aren’t just meant to help employers. They can also provide advantages to employees. First, tracking sleep allows people to see where they fall short on their rest. It turns out many people don’t even know they’re not getting enough sleep, so tracking it may be the first time they realize that they need to step up their sleep game. And those who are able to get more sleep can avoid certain health issues that may come from a lack of sleep, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
Programs like the one Welltrinsic offers can show employees how short they’re falling on sleep every night, and then set up sleep goals for them to meet. Welltrinsic even offers custom sleep tips, followed by screening tools to determine when someone needs to see a doctor about a possible sleep disorder. Aside from the health benefits of this type of program, employees can also get rewards from it. For example, some employers reward employees for just logging in and tracking their sleep regularly, as they might get some days off or cheaper health insurance premiums.
What Do You Think? Employers? Employees?
What do you think, employers of the world? Do you think your employees would appreciate and use a sleep tracking program or would they find it too creepy and personal? What if you offered rewards, like more personal days off, for tracking sleep? How would you feel about sleep benefit offerings?
Learn more about employee benefits that relate to health: The Benefits of Developing a Workplace Culture of Health
What about on a personal level? If you’re reading this and are an employee whose company offers wellness benefits, would a sleep tracking benefit be attractive to you? I can think of times in my life when I wasn’t getting the sleep I need—like when my twins were little and I was operating largely on fumes. I did my work, and took care of my clients, but there were times when it was difficult. I have many friends who suffer from chronic insomnia, and I’m not sure how they would feel about their employers having this kind of personal data. Would they be open to sleep benefit offerings?
I believe this is one of many of this kind of sleep benefit offerings that we’ll see integrated into corporate wellness benefit offerings. As always, employers will have to figure out what data is appropriate for them to collect, and of course how to navigate privacy concerns along the way. And employees will likewise have to decide what it’s worth to them to give up their private data to an employer. My daughter works for a large insurance company and tracks her workouts and steps daily using a Fitbit that is tied into a corporate data system. Her efforts are rewarded by significant reductions in healthcare costs and other perks that are regularly offered.
As always, in an everything-is-connected world fueled by the IoT, we humans have to choose between personal privacy and the data we opt to share and the financial considerations that we are offered in exchange for that private data.