- Sleep disorders are a hidden health problem for Americans across the country — meaning costly consequences for employers, according to new research by the Brigham Health Sleep Matters Initiative for the National Safety Council (NSC). Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation cost employers with 1,000 workers $1.4 million annually in absenteeism, decreased productivity and healthcare expenses.
- The NSC says the Fatigue Cost Calculator for Employers, a web-based tool providing snapshots of companies' losses, also shows that the average-size Fortune 500 company can expect to be out of $80 million a year due to exhausted workers whose sleep disorders often go untreated or undetected. The calculator can show employers what their ROI will be if they invest in an education program to detect sleep disorders.
- One worker with obstructive sleep apnea could cost an employer more than $3,000 in additional healthcare expenses a year. A Fortune 500 company could save on average almost $40 million a year if it has a sleep health program for employees in place.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has no regulations on sleep deprivation, but it does offer employers recommendations on how to help shift workers and those in the transportation industry get enough sleep to avoid fatigue and reduce fatalities on the job.
Sleep education, or teaching employees ways to get better sleep, can easily be implemented as part of any wellness program. As much as employees need their PCs, tablets and smartphones, sleep experts believe such devices can rob people of much-needed sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends shutting down all devices, including the television, at bedtime for eight to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep.
But employers can't disregard how hours worked also affect sleep schedules. Remote, billable and traveling workers often work longer hours a day than the average employee. If their workdays are interfering with their sleep and, in turn, their health, work quality and level of productivity, changes in workload or schedule might be necessary.