August 30, 2016
A new study claims that there is a direct link between sleep and productivity. A survey of more than 97,000 employees in 33 industries and 139 countries from Global Corporate Challenge (GCC), found evidence of a link between sleep and performance. Currently, one in three adults regularly fail to get enough sleep, according to the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and Harvard Medical School estimates that the cost adds up to USD $63.2 billion annually. This includes money lost through absenteeism as well as the accidents, mistakes, and impaired productivity employees suffer when they do show up to work. And the one of the primary causes is working long hours and forms of presenteeism such as checking emails at home. To help combat this problem the report urges those at the top of the organisation to set an example and demonstrate that working long hours in exchange for reduced sleep is counterproductive and won’t be encouraged.
Explaining the findings, GCC Insights’ Data Scientist, Dr Olivia Sackett, said, “A strong body of research shows that poor sleep health has a dramatic effect on cognitive functioning. So it’s not surprising that in our study, we saw improved productivity in association with improved sleep health. This is great news for employers, since it means you can positively impact the output and performance of your teams by focusing on sleep.”
GCC’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr David Batman, claims that constant connectivity after hours is a major culprit in the sleep crisis. He also urges employers to look closely at what happens around job expectations and requirements. “It’s important that we really take a look at our workplace culture,” he said. “Too often, they are beset with stress and anxiety. And it’s widely accepted among clinicians that employees who are stressed, anxious or depressed are more vulnerable to insomnia. They have less energy and more fatigue as a result. Their concentration and productivity suffer. So pay attention to the environment your employees are working in, as well as being mindful of external stressors that may still affect them on the job.”
Dr Batman said there was hope for employers who wanted to mitigate the harmful effects of sleep deprivation. “As alarming as the situation can be, all these issues can be improved with increased awareness of job demands and workplace email cultures – and better sleep. “So put employee wellbeing top of the workplace agenda. Provide education and support around the sleep issue, review the 24-hour culture of continuous business communications and make it acceptable to switch off email after hours, weekends and vacation time. Our study saw improvements in productivity alongside improved sleep health. So both employees and their organisations stand to benefit from a serious and committed wake up call.”