Companies Waking Up to Employee Stress, Burnout, and Insomnia

In the recent AMC television series, Halt and Catch Fire, a fictional account of the computer and gaming industry in the mid-80s, young programmers are shown working hours if not days on end to solve a problem or meet a deadline. It’s a paean to the real-life trials and triumphs of technology companies. And a reflection of our devotion to our jobs even today.

Managers in the high-tech world often put in 60-hour weeks or longer and by example encourage their staff to do likewise. Engineering product managers burn the midnight oil to develop new prototypes. Legendary advertising agency Chiat/Day, famous for campaigns for Apple Computer and Nissan, among others, was known among its workers as Chiat/Day & Night for its long hours. A common refrain was, “If you don’t come in Saturday, don’t bother to come in Sunday.”

All Work and No Play Can Lead to a Heart Attack

While companies certainly benefit when salaried employees go above and beyond the call, the extra workload may also extract a price. A research study out of Britain found that workers who put in more than 60 hours a week, and got five hours or less sleep on average a night, had twice the risk of a heart attack.

Even the 40-hour week isn’t what it’s supposed to be. CNN reports that the average work week for full-time employees was 47 hours, 46 if you isolate those workers with one job.

With long hours, the work suffers, and workers, too

Eventually, the longer hours take their toll. A 2015 article in the Washington Post notes that, for the average worker, insomnia results in the loss of 11.3 days of productivity each year. The same story refers to a study revealing that people who monitored their smartphones for business reasons after 9 p.m. were more tired and less engaged at work the next day.

Work doesn’t just suffer, workers do, too—from 75 percent to 90 percent of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. That stress can play a part in headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. Visits to the doctor for stress or chronic conditions can impact health care costs for both employee and employer.

Companies are Waking Up to the Impact of Employee Insomnia

There’s a growing awareness of the dangers of sleep deprivation on employee health and its corresponding impact on health care costs and worker productivity. And companies are taking notice. Goldman Sachs has brought in sleep experts. Johnson & Johnson offers a digital health-coaching program for battling insomnia. Google hosts “sleeposium” events.

How Kaiser Permanente Can Help Reduce Employee Stress

Kaiser Permanente (formerly Group Health) has established an evidence-based Sleep Disorders Guideline for providers and patients. It offers a series of questions to assess underlying causes of sleeplessness, medications that may interfere with sleep, and tips for getting a good night’s sleep. For serious sleep disorders, Kaiser Permanente has the largest number of board-certified sleep medicine physicians in the state.

Reducing the stress of getting health care

If employees find themselves under stress, seeking care should not add to that stress. That’s why Kaiser Permanente offers a range of care options for its members, from office visits to walk-in clinics, online visits to a 24/7 Consulting Nurse Service. For workers who need more care, there’s behavioral counseling, as well as disease management for those who have chronic conditions.

And to help companies improve the general health of their overall workforce, Kaiser Permanente offers a number of wellness solutions, from health risk assessments to tobacco cessation programs, fitness center discounts to online wellness engagement programs. For those workers having trouble sleeping,there’s also our sleep centers and sleep lab.


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