Since our inception, we have run a large number of surveys for companies looking to understand the issues staff face when it comes to their wellbeing, and often we see sleep as an area that employees are struggling with. Studies have shown that two thirds of us don’t get enough sleep, and of course, our constant ‘switched on’ society – plus a global pandemic – hasn’t helped us improve this.
Accenture’s ‘human’ approach
Accenture, the global professional services firm specialising in management and technology consulting, employs around 500,000 members of staff across 120 countries and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. The staff are relatively young, with 75% belonging to the millennial generation. It has implemented a unique programme called ‘Truly Human’ which focuses on encouraging employees to bring their best selves to work by learning about small ways they can change their daily routines.
Charlene Naidoo, Talent Strategy Lead from Accenture, South Africa, says: ‘Truly Human is not just a couple of initiatives that you string together with a project timeline and then you roll it out, it really is a focused attempt at changing a culture.’.
In recent years, sleep has become a big part of the wellbeing programme and Accenture has worked with both Shleep and Sleepability to improve employee wellbeing.
The programs aim to educate employees on sleep and its benefits, also allowing them to evaluate their sleep quality via a tracking app. Employees are then invited to attend workshops, conferencing and even coaching sessions to improve their sleep, which is then evaluated up to a month later to see whether there has been an improvement. The company has also encouraged ‘sleeping at work’ by installing a high-tech sleep pod in its Dublin office. This provides a great space to relax and unwind and the pod also provides back massages to help relieve any physical stresses employees might experience.
The bedrock of a healthy business
Accenture is not alone in including sleep as part of its wellbeing programme, currently 42% of companies in the UK include sleep in their wellbeing strategy according to the Reward and Employee Benefits association, and this number is set to rise. This is no surprise, because sleep is important for preventing stress and burnout and can increase productivity and performance for employees who manage to sleep well. In a previous blog we outlined several ways companies can improve sleeping habits of employees, including leaders getting adequate sleep, like Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project who states:
“There is no single behavioural change we’ve seen in our work with thousands of executives that more quickly and powerfully influences mood, focus and productivity than a full night’s sleep.”
Napping at work has become a growing trend in the US too. Realising the huge benefits, many large US companies now allow their employees to take naps and sleeping at work breaks. By resting up during the workday, employees can be more alert and energised, improve their memory, better problem solve, reduce stress, and boost immune systems.
Sleep high on the post-lockdown agenda
Dr Lindsay Browning, a chartered psychologist, neuroscientist and author, and Shine’s sleep expert, helps workplaces understand the importance of sleep within the wellbeing spectrum. She tells us that “someone who sleeps for less than 6 hours per night takes an additional 6 days off work per year, compared to someone sleeping 7-9 hours per night.”
But what about the impact of a pandemic? “Many people have found that their sleep has been badly affected over the past tumultuous year. People have been struggling getting to sleep or staying asleep,” she stated.
And this is something that organisations are becoming increasingly aware of. A recent study from YouGov has revealed the impact on employee wellbeing and mental health from a year of lockdown. A particular concern was that ‘25% reported they are both sleeping less and that their sleep quality is more disrupted.’ Lockdown fatigue has been a growing concern throughout the last 12 months due to the low level anxiety of the pandemic impacting quality of sleep. With the transition back into workplaces and more conversations around flexible working, businesses are being called upon to ensure sleep awareness and good sleep practices are higher on the agenda.
For more information on the work we do around employees and sleep, email: firstname.lastname@example.org