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How to Increase Your Employee Well-Being ROI with Sleep Programs

Written by Goodpath Employer Health Index (GEHI)
2021-07-22

Given that sleep affects every facet of our lives, including our ability to perform at work, employers should be factoring sleep improvement programs into their overall health and wellness strategy in an effort to strengthen all aspects of their business. 

Improving employee sleep can provide benefits ranging from decreased healthcare costs to increased innovation, and consequently employers should prioritize actions to help their workforce manage and improve sleep.

Absence of Sleep Programs in the Workplace 

In 2020, 33% of employers offered some type of sleep support program. This 33% covers a wide range of approaches to sleep support, ranging from those with proven results to those that are popular, but not yet validated. Proven sleep programs can include sleep training programs or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). Not yet validated but still popular sleep support can include features like nap rooms and access to meditation apps.

This 33% of employers offering sleep programs is an increase from 25% in 2019, but still a far cry from the 53% who said, in 2019, that they would offer such programs. Considering that sleep is a key element for maintaining health, this number is also noticeably low. 

Sleep Support Programs Enhance Other Well-being Efforts

The lack of emphasis on sleep is a noticeable omission. Employers are investing in employees’ mental health (69% of employers offer teletherapy, 50% offer stress management, and 49% offer resiliency programs). However, far fewer offer support for sleep (33%). This gap presents a challenge in supporting mental health, as sleep directly affects one’s mental health, stress management, and resiliency. Poor sleep makes us twice as responsive to stress and 44% less resilient

Without also offering sleep programs, the effectiveness of these mental health programs will be limited. Adding a sleep program alongside other efforts will increase overall impact on well-being and return on investment. 

Employees Value Sleep Programs

Employees recognize the importance of good sleep. Even though only 33% of employers offer sleep programs, 78% of employees would value an employer-provided sleep program. Additionally, 44% of employees surveyed said that “quality of sleep significantly impacted their ability to fully contribute at work”.

How the Workplace Affects Sleep

Stress at work is a frequently cited cause of poor sleep. Workers who report high job stress are at almost double the risk of suffering from insomnia. Additionally, 27% of adults prioritize work over sleep. Long work hours also contribute to shorter sleeping times. Working more than 40 hours per week increases a worker’s risk of shortened sleep by 50%. Working more than 55 hours per week increases the risk of shortened sleep by 263%.

Clearly, what happens in the workplace affects sleep. These factors, in turn, affect company performance. Employers can help break this cycle by offering sleep programs as part of their health and wellness strategies. Reducing job stress and solving sleep problems in tandem can help employees improve their overall health and prevent workplace productivity losses.

Related article:

Employee Benefits ROI

Action Plan for Employee Sleep

By offering sleep support, employers will provide a resource desired by employees. Sleep programs will also serve as a beneficial supplement to other well-being programs, and increase the ROI for workplace health efforts.

Choosing the right sleep support for employees is important. Our Employer Sleep Action Plan details concrete steps employers can take to effectively support healthy sleep habits. 

This article is part of our larger series on sleep and its role in employee health. For more information on sleep and its relationship to employee health and workplace productivity, access the full Sleep & Its Role In Employee Health report here.