Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Problem

One of the most alarming emerging risks to all organizations is lack of sleep an employee is getting. Some may laugh or chuckle at this thought but the CDC has actually declared (via Rand Corp findings) that insufficient sleep in the United States is a “public health problem” with more than one-third of Americans not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.

As a father of a young child I completely agree. Long nights of inconsistent sleep quickly takes over around the 1 PM – 2 PM. Ever drive home and feel yourself dozing off when the sun is beaming down on you and you are in stop and go traffic? Lack of sleep is a major problem especially for those companies with drivers.

Fact. Lack of sleep will have a direct impact on your companies profitability.

Employees are factually less productive. On an annual basis Rand Corp found the United States loses an equivalent of around 1.2 million working days due to insufficient sleep. Taking it further, if an employee is driving your automobile and is involved in an accident you are looking at a potential “triple whammy.” That is where you have third party liability claim, physically damage of automobiles and your employee claims workers compensation. Missouri Employers Mutual states the average work injury costs relating to an automobile accident to their employer is $31,000. For every $1 in direct injury costs there is about $4-$10 in indirect costs associated with that.

So now the question is what do you do about this known risk. You obviously can’t set a bedtime for your employee or set up cameras in their homes to make sure they are in bed by a certain time. Action items such as company awareness and wellness programs will help. Also, many drivers have fear of telling their supervisor they are tired so they push on and end up causing an accident. Corporate policy is key – making sure employees know it is okay to tell someone you are tired. Pull over and take a break. Rand Corp has a couple recommendations that could work as well:

  1. Individuals could: set consistent wake-up times; limit the use of electronic items before bedtime; and exercise.
  2. Employers could: recognize the importance of sleep and the employer’s role in it’s promotion; design and build brighter work-spaces; combat workplace psychosocial risks; and discourage the extended use of electronic devices.
  3. Public authorities could: support health professionals in providing sleep-related help; encourage employers to pay attention to sleep issues; and introduce later school starting times.

Have you ever thought about this risk to your business?

How will you take action?

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