Most workers half-asleep on the jobNews added by Benefits Pro on April 17, 2014

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Dan Cook

“I come in here in the morning and it’s kind of hard to get motivated. I’ll be yawning and carrying on and kind of drag for an hour or so before I’m really probably engaged and back doing real performance type of work I would say. So it will be easy for me to just kind of lag around, drink some coffee, walk around, talk to people, or sit at my desk and read Internet news rather than actually work.”

This is a real quote from a real, semi-awake, employee. Not my problem, you say? My folks are alert and productive all day long.

Think again.

According to research by Virgin Pulse, two-thirds of any company’s workforce may well identify with this worker’s statement. And this epidemic of sleep-deprived employees is robbing American employers of billions of productivity dollars.

Virgin undertook to shed some light on how sleep disturbances affected productivity on the job.

“The research outlines why employers supporting sleep programs increase employee productivity, and how these programs help employees feel more appreciated and supported,” Virgin Pulse said.

Virgin engaged 1,140 employees from three U.S. companies in a sleep study last November. Here are the most relevant nuggets from the sleep-disturbance data:
  • 76 percent of employees felt tired most days of the week;
  • 40 percent of employees doze off during the day once per month;
  • 30 percent of employees were unhappy or very unhappy with the quality or quantity of their sleep;
  • 15 percent doze off during the day at least once per week to once per day.
Dr. Jennifer Turgiss, a co-author of the study and director of the Virgin Pulse Institute, emphasized that the characteristic behaviors of the sleep-deprived should not be taken lightly but should be addressed to offset the deleterious effects.

“Showing up to work sleep-deprived can be the equivalent of showing up to work intoxicated,” she said. “Employees who don’t sleep well have poorer concentration, poorer decision-making abilities, are significantly less able to cope with stressful situations, and are more likely to make unhealthy choices. With its direct link to dangerous health conditions and steep productivity losses, a well-rested workforce is critical to a company’s success.”

Virgin Pulse cited several major causes of sleep deprivation, most of which employers are powerless to address. Here they are:
  • Temperature too high or too low (85.2 percent);
  • Their partner (71.9 percent );
  • Unwanted noise (68.6 percent);
  • Light too bright (52.8 percent);
  • Mattress (40 percent);
  • Young children (35.9 percent);
  • Medical condition that disturbs sleep (10.2 percent).
The study cited four key areas that were negatively affected by sleep deprivation: physical well-being; cognitive abilities and productivity; mood; and stress management.

Virgin Pulse offered several suggestions for ways employers could address this crisis, including online sleep support.

“Our study made one thing clear: lack of sleep is crippling America’s workforce. Employers can’t turn a blind eye. Whether they offer an online sleep program, encourage employees to use vacation days, or provide other tools, employers must address sleep issues in order to create a thriving workforce and business,” said Turgiss. “Not only will employees be more rested, but they’ll feel more supported by their employers, helping them perform better and become better able to engage in work and in life.”

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