A Sleep Program Is Non Negotiable

By: Matt Berg

In its simplest form, a company is a group of people working towards a common goal. Intuitively, a company’s most important assets are its employees. On an equal plane with the customers they serve. If you agree with this sort of thinking, what is the best way to take care of and support your employees?

After personally getting to know and researching scores of leadership styles and cultures, I’ve witnessed this question get overlooked or approached backwards frequently. Even with good intentions, company leaders often miss the mark by prioritizing cost minimizations over everything else. But what if inverting that approach and investing deeply in employee health not only accomplished lower costs but also improved the viability of the company over the long-term? A healthy employee is able to do their best work, is more emotionally engaged and motivated which translates to a higher degree of inventiveness - the capacity to get much more out of an hour's work, and better use of company resources. And when the benefits of a single healthy employee get multiplied across an entire organization, the positive effects are not just summed but compounded.

So what keeps employees healthy and happy? Table stakes these days are, sound pay, a greater mission, health insurance benefits, and maternity/paternity leave. But beyond meeting the basics of employment, where do you look next? What makes your workplace wellness program standout above the rest?

I’m here to argue that the single most important behavioral tool you can equip an employee with to ensure their health and your company's future is sleep. And further, that a sleep health program should be a non-negotiable part of the employee benefit package.

Before we dive in, why care about an employee’s sleep in the first place? Here’s what we know about the true costs of not prioritizing sleep on a group level:

  • In a study with more than 4,000 employees. Fatigue-related productivity losses were estimated to cost $1967/employee annually. source

  • Another study found, on an annual basis, the US loses an equivalent of about 1.23 million working days due to insufficient sleep. Surprise, people call in sick when they are tired. source

  • The economic losses due to sleep deprivation in the US are estimated to be up to $411 billion. For comparison, diabetes (a massive problem) is estimated to cost the US $237 billion. source

  • The fatigue and performance effects of sleep loss and circadian misalignment associated with shift work reportedly contributed to the explosion at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl nuclear melt-downs, and the grounding of the Exxon Valdez supertanker. Have fun explaining that one to your grandkids. source

  • Employees with an insomnia diagnosis have more than double the average health costs of those without one. source

You might be wondering, how exactly does poor sleep translate to more cost and lost productivity? Let's look at some of the most pragmatic examples:

  • More sick days
  • Presenteeism (show up to work but don’t do anything OR do the minimum)
  • Higher healthcare costs - (no surprise that healthcare gets more expensive with less sleep)
  • Costly mistakes
  • Faster burnout
  • Labor union disputes

Say you’re open to the idea that you should offer better sleep to your employees. What does a well-rounded employee sleep program look like? If you ask me, a top-notch sleep program has a laser-focus in 3 key areas:

  • It is evidence-based - It really does move the needle in that it is shown to improve employee’s sleep. This includes anonymized cohort-based data to see the sleep improvement of a population (We don’t believe in sharing individual level sleep data with employers).

  • It is cost-effective - As a rational leader with limited resources, you want to know that there is a positive ROI on the $ you invest. Either through more productive retained employees, reduced costs, etc.

  • It is easy to implement - Starting something new at a point when you already have so much to take on should be approachable, easy to understand, and be easily accessible to your amazing employees!

  • If you’ve gotten this far, perhaps you agree that there is something fascinating about sleep health. Here is where I implore you to look at the data, get as excited about sleep as I am, and consider investing in your people. Not only does it contribute greatly to the health and productivity of your employee body, it’s a win-win when determining your cost minimization in the long-run. And really does provide your business with a competitive advantage.

    Want to learn more? Reach out to one of our team members at hello@puresomni.com about our company and health benefits offerings. Your employees (and your budget) will thank you.

    Somni is an evidence-based behavioral medicine program designed for organizations. We offer a turnkey solution to put better sleep in the hands of your people. Our product harnesses sleep neuroscience, premium products, and sleep data to create a personalized approach to solve your company's sleep needs. Anonymized cohort based data to and measurement of economic endpoints available. We work with groups of all shapes and sizes - from Fortune 100’s, Silicon Valley Tech, Higher Education, Sports Teams and more.

    Learn more about Somni.