Re-set the Clock: Help Employees Get Back in the Sleep Game

DaylightIt’s that glorious time of year when the clocks wind back, and we all can revel in an extra hour to kick back, relax, and pretend like we’re sleeping in. Let’s take it a step further and look at all the ways to make “falling back” feel like a great leap forward for your employees at work too.

Traditionally, one recommendation during daylight savings time is to check smoke alarm batteries. Clearly, this is critical, but we’ll add another to the list: checking your employees’ batteries. Daylight savings time is a great time to re-invigorate employees by helping them improve their sleep patterns and quality. Labeled an “epidemic” by the CDC, sleeplessness is linked with poorer cognitive function and can have the same effect on employees as showing up to the job intoxicated!

What contributes to poor sleep? Worry and stress, mental activity, and physical discomfort all drive poor sleep quality, according to a study from the Virgin Pulse Institute that looked across the reported sleep patterns of 1,139 employees from three U.S. companies. However, employees who get enough sleep can have a very positive impact on ROI. In fact, these companies can earn upwards of $2,000 in gained productivity per employee, each year! (Talk about getting paid to sleep!)

Help encourage your employees to get the sleep they need to be their best, most productive selves by educating them on all the benefits of getting seven to eight hours a night. Getting enough sleep allows employees to wake up refreshed with enough mental energy to tackle the work day and also drives improved focus. Bring your efforts a step beyond education by offering robust well-being programs that support all aspects of employees’ health – including their sleep.

Sleep support is especially important for workers at risk for sleep deprivation – shift workers, frequent overtime workers, and others – who have a set schedule with long hours and limited flexibility. By initiating small but meaningful cultural changes, you’ll improve everything from employees’ productivity and satisfaction, to your workplace safety records, and more.

To learn about encouraging your employees to get their zzz’s and be their best selves both on the job and at home, read the full whitepaper, “More Sleep = Better Performance: The Hidden Advantages of a Well-rested Workforce.”

What’s Workforce Composition Got to Do With Employee Well-being {+Podcast}

shutterstock_53563891It’s true. Traditional wellness programs, like health risk assessments and biometrics, are a way to start investing in your employees. But on their own, you’ll be hard-pressed to see significant results that improve your employees’ well-being or boost their engagement.

Why? Well, ultimately, traditional programs take too narrow of an approach. Too often, they focus solely on sick employees vs. engaging all employees, no matter where they are on their journey to good health. They often focus on up-front rewards, like $100 for completing an assessment, instead of incentivizing employees’ health behaviors over time. And they do little to drive true engagement or sustained healthy behavior change. They simply aren’t set up from the start to drive long-term success.

The good news? Employee health and well-being programs today are more robust than traditional wellness programs have ever been. These new types of programs have emerged to help engage more employees and better meet their wellbeing needs. This new approach encompasses a holistic definition of health, focusing on increasing employees’ engagement, boosting their productivity, and retaining them long-term. Best of all, it offers something for all your employees, and it can meet your people wherever they are in their journey to great health. And increasingly, with the success of these types of programs, leading employers are taking a more holistic approach.

One thing that’s a huge factor when it comes to creating a successful employee well-being strategy: your workforce composition. Each workforce is made up of a unique population, so well-being programs have to be able to engage a broad range of people—from disparate or dispersed workforces, in different regions, to those with various work schedules and job demands. Focus groups at RAND even revealed how challenging it can be for many employees to access wellness activities because of particulars like set work schedules. These types of accessibility challenges vary between job descriptions and tell us that what works for one workforce may not work for another.

In a recent podcast, industry experts Fran Melmed, founder of context communication and Jennifer Turgiss, DrPH, MS, vice president, Health Solutions for Virgin Pulse and Director of the Virgin Pulse Institute, dive into the challenges of connecting a dispersed, diverse employee population. They were joined by Susan Piglia, AVP Corporate Wellness for Ochsner Health System, who shared how her organization engages its large, dispersed workforce in its employee well-being program.

“We [Ochsner Health System] don’t just want to promote these healthy habits, we want to live them,” said Piglia.

Listen to the podcast, “Workforce Composition: Why it Matters in Well-being Programs,” to learn best practices for engaging your entire workforce, organically evolving and improving your approach over time, and increasing access to your programs to create engaged, energetic and productive employees.

How You Can Learn From States’ Well-being Programs

StatesBest practices in well-being programs have been much researched for years now, and overwhelming evidence highlights how factors like stress, nutrition and fitness all affect a person’s overall health.

Considering this, many state governments have adopted a more holistic approach to well-being, aiming to not only support citizens’ physical health but the many other factors that come into play, too. These efforts were looked at more closely in a recent OECD report that analyzes health, safety, and housing, ranking each state’s performance. The highest ranking all had high marks across several categories, as opposed to just being the highest ranked in one, which speaks to the OECD’s commitment to the idea that a holistic approach to well-being is the most valuable.

This robust approach to well-being is one we applaud – and is a growing trend among businesses, too. That’s because, although traditional approaches to corporate wellness (the kind called “wellness 1.0” that focus on the at-risk or sick) are a great attempt at getting employees into better health, but they fall short. Instead of offering fun, engaging programs that involve all employees, their narrow approach often fails to include everyone, regardless of where they fall on the path to good health. What’s more, they rarely motivate meaningful behavior change. A wellness 1.0 approach just doesn’t cut it when it comes to developing well-being programs that work for a whole workforce – or an entire state.

When you think about it, states and companies are close companions. A community’s makeup is similar to a workforce, with different people representing different regions, health needs, occupations – so it’s unsurprising that we’re seeing some similarities between the two. By actively supporting their populations’ health with robust approaches to well-being, state and business leaders alike are on the right track.

While physical health is important, a person’s well-being goes way beyond miles logged on the treadmill or the number on a scale. Supporting all aspects of employees’ health drives their engagement on the job, their focused, and helps them put their best foot forward at work – benefits that don’t just drive business, but support employees’ personal life and the communities they live in, too.

Learn more about the benefits of supporting all aspects of employees’ well-being. Download our free eBook, “Progressing Past Wellness 1.0.”

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