Asleep on the job: newly launched Virgin Pulse Institute unveils sleep deprivation’s impact on employers

insomnia-clockWe’re happy to share that this week, we launched the Virgin Pulse Institute, an evidence-based organization that puts research to work to help employees and companies thrive.

The Virgin Pulse Institute is led by our own Jennifer Turgiss, DrPH, MS, and was formed to help organizations and employers find scalable, data-driven, consumer-centric solutions to workforce issues organizations face today, and will look closely at issues like sleep, stress, nutrition and financial health and how they affect you and your workforce.

In tandem with the launch, the research report conducted jointly by Virgin Pulse Institute and vielife, “Asleep on the Job: The Causes and Consequences of Employees’ Disrupted Sleep and How Employers Can Help” was released.

We all know that if you don’t snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep has been called an “epidemic” by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is connected with car crashes, huge health risks, and disengaged employees. By leveraging the online sleep program offered by vielife, researchers were able to conduct qualitative and quantitative research on what causes employees’ sleep issues in the first place, the consequences of poor sleep, and offer tips on what employers can do to help. It reveals some startling statistics, including:

  • 76 percent of employees felt tired most days of the week
  • 40 percent of employees doze off during the day once per month
  • 30 percent of employees were unhappy or very unhappy with the quality or quantity of their sleep
  • 15 percent doze off during the day at least once per week to once per day

The report also reveals four themes that keep employees up in the first place: worry/stress, mental activity, physical discomfort and environmental disruptors. Of these themes, a host of factors kept people up at night, including:

  • Temperature too high or too low (85.2%)
  • Their partner (71.9%)
  • Unwanted noise (68.6%)
  • Light – too bright (52.8%)
  • Mattress (40%)
  • Young children (35.9%)
  • Medical condition that disturbs sleep (10.2%)

It also unveiled the affects employees feel from sleep deprivation, including a toll on their physical well-being, cognitive abilities and productivity, mood, and ability to manage stress. Across the board, employees said a lack of sleep left them feeling less focused at work, preventing them from performing at their peak.

“Our study made one thing clear: lack of sleep is crippling America’s workforce. Employers can’t turn a blind eye. Whether they offer an online sleep program, encourage employees to use vacation days, or provide other tools, employers must address sleep issues in order to create a thriving workforce and business,” said Dr. Turgiss.

“Not only will employees be more rested, but they’ll feel more supported by their employers, helping them perform better and become better able to engage in work and in life,” she added.

Click here to read the report and learn more about why employers supporting sleep programs increase employee productivity, and how these programs help employees feel more appreciated and supported.

For more information about the Virgin Pulse Institute, including ways you can collaborate, contact or visit

Kicking off the 6th Annual National Employee Wellness Month

Header-image-2 (1)Employee health and wellness is the cornerstone of our mission to change lives for good and make companies better. We know that healthy, happy employees are more productive ones – on and off the job. Helping people feel their best has a lot of components, but wellness programs are one of the best ways employers can foster employee well-being, while showing just how much they care.

That philosophy is exactly why, in 2009 in partnership with the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, we created National Employee Wellness Month. This important initiative helps business leaders learn how companies successfully engage employees in healthy lifestyles. Held annually in June and now in its sixth year, National Employee Wellness Month is sponsored by both organizations and the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and WorldatWork.

“National Employee Wellness Month has been a phenomenal initiative because it encourages organizations and individuals alike to focus on taking steps to improve employee health and well-being,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse.

“Year after year, employers say National Employee Wellness Month is a great umbrella campaign for all their employee health offerings – it boosts employees’ awareness of the range of benefits available, and drives additional participation in them.”

Getting involved is simple – all you need to do is pledge your company’s support (it’s free!), and promote healthy workplace activities during the month. Activities and events can be as simple as replacing the junk food in the vending machine with healthier options. For more ideas on how you can support the initiative, check out our tips below.

3 Tips for Supporting National Employee Wellness Month

  1. Once you’ve pledged your support for the month, get employees amped up by driving a little healthy competition. Encourage walking meetings where attendees use a wearable fitness tracking device to see who can rack up the most steps, or offer big bragging rights to the team that brings a healthy brown-bag lunch in for a full week.
  2. Drive engagement in National Employee Wellness Month by organizing fun, healthy events. Consider getting employees, their families, and their friends on board for a local walk/run 5K and hand out team T-shirts, or sponsor a healthy catered lunch once a month.
  3. Make the healthy choice the easy choice for your employees by fixing the work environment. Ditch the soda fountain and replace it with water, give Donut Friday the axe and offer up a healthy yogurt bar instead, or encourage employees to take their lunch breaks to the gym, instead of the drive-through.

Want to get involved in National Employee Wellness Month? Check out the website to pledge your support today! Don’t forget to join in on the social conversation by using #NEWM2014 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.




Why (& How!) We Help Our Employees Live Better Everyday

Max in the GymA few weeks back, we shared with you the exciting news that we’d been named a finalist in the Boston Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers 2014 award. We’ve been waiting on pins and needles since, and are thrilled to say we’ve officially been named one of the 2014 Healthiest Employers!

“We’re honored to be named one of the Boston Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse. “Helping people live better every day and companies prosper is our business, so it’s critical that we practice what we preach in order to engage employees – especially our own.

“We’re committed to helping our own employees and those of our clients adopt daily habits and make healthy behavior changes that enable them to thrive at work and in all aspects of their lives. By finding great people and showing our employees we care, we’re creating a team that’s at its best, with the energy, focus, and drive necessary to fully engage at work and in life,” he added.

Virgin Pulse’s mission of using business as a force for good by helping people get healthier is the foundation for our company culture. That’s why we offer robust health and wellness benefits, including flexible work arrangements like telecommuting, flex-scheduling and compressed work options, medical, dental and vision coverage, long-term care coverage, short-term and long-term disability coverage, life insurance, an EAP program, online and telephonic wellness coaching, annual biometric screenings, generous PTO and holidays. It doesn’t stop there, though! Our employees love the other perks we offer too – like our kitchen stocked with free healthy snacks, two on-site fitness centers, weekly fitness classes, and more.

We also connect our workforce with same wellness platform we offer clients. Virgin Pulse employees can earn cash rewards for participation and hitting certain milestones, earning hundreds of dollars in the process and discounts off their health insurance premium. We even extend our wellness program to employees’ family and friends to help keep the healthy momentum going outside of our office.

In his recent Huffington Post article, Chris explains why a focus on healthy company cultures is key for employers.

“[W]e’re in the midst of a disengagement crisis,” Chris wrote. “What does that … mean? That even on a good day, you’re getting less than the desired amount of your employees’ brainpower — the exact asset you hired them for,” he added, explaining that non-work obligations will always be a top-of-mind concern for employees.

While that’s true, employers can take steps in helping people handle their lives, at work and beyond.

“[F]ostering employees’ well-being across the board helps them bring their best selves to work. I’ve talked to a lot of employees and most want the same thing: to be happy, more energetic, sharper and more focused, with the extra drive to get things done,” Chris wrote. “To really get there, we need to approach wellness and engagement in a new way — from the employee’s point of view.”

Wondering how to take action? Start by helping employees improve their energy, focus and drive. Help them set healthy goals, and make sure they’ve got the social support they need to tackle those ambitions. Set them on the path to success by creating a healthy work environment, and offer up technology – like wearable fitness tracking devices – that helps them keep tabs on their efforts. Finally, don’t forget the importance of rewards, which can range from cash, perks or just a quick “Great work!”

Interested in learning more about how you can support employee health and engagement? Take a look at Chris Boyce’s article on the Huffington Post, “5 Tips on How to Support Healthy, Engaged Employees.”

Congrats to all the recipients of the Boston Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers 2014 award, including our clients Southcoast Health, Benchmark Senior Living, and NFP Health! 

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Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!

Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!