Addressing mental health at work has emerged as one of the most important issues HR teams are tackling these days, offering perks like quiet rooms or on-site therapists. HR teams may also want to support employees with something that usually happens outside the confines of an office: sleep.
Over half (58%) of U.S. adults say they regularly struggle to get a good night’s sleep, according to a survey of more than 1,000 American workers from meditation and mental health platform Headspace. While the CDC recommends that working-age adults (age 18 to 60) get more than seven hours of sleep per night, 63% of surveyed U.S. adults say they sleep less than six hours per night. Stress and financial pressures were the top two factors affecting workers’ sleep quality.
Why should employers care? Well, 72% of respondents agree that a bad night’s sleep tanks their productivity the next day, citing feeling distracted (61% of respondents), failing to accomplish goals (42%), and even calling out sick (25%).
"Even though we don't talk about it in a corporate environment, not having slept well puts you in a situation where you can't perform well. And 25% of people missing a day at work clearly has a significant impact on productivity," Karan Singh, Headspace’s chief people officer, tells Fortune.
About one-quarter of American respondents say that if they could improve just one aspect of their life to benefit their mental and physical health, they’d select sleep. And 77% say consistent quality sleep would improve their mental health.
In some ways, addressing sleep quality amongst employees may be a lower entry barrier for workers interested in seeking mental health care but are still reluctant to take the plunge. Headspace, which serves more than 4,000 employers across 200 countries, says it has seen increased interest in its sleep quality content, noting that it’s sometimes easier for employees to simply say, “I didn’t sleep so well last night” instead of disclosing they want mental health care. "It's a lightweight…entry point to get access to care.”
While offering sleep hygiene tools can be helpful, people leaders should also establish a culture that decreases stress levels, such as minimizing the amount of work employees must address late in the evening.
According to Headspace’s 2023 workforce attitudes toward mental health report, 89% of employees surveyed say they've felt moderate to extreme stress over the past month, with 49% saying they feel a sense of dread at least once per week. Respondents pointed to instability and unpredictability at work, overwhelming expectations to take on more job responsibilities, and higher expectations and fear of not meeting them as the top three drivers of their dread.
“It is about the context and the culture that HR leaders can set,” says Singh. “If there is a culture of responding to email, all day, every day, all night, every night, then more often than not, that's going to likely lead to runaway thoughts and challenges with stress and eventually trying to get to sleep.”
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com2023-11-20T13:48:01Z dg43tfdfdgfd