Fatigue is a hidden danger for employees and workplaces, and it has the potential to cost businesses millions of dollars a year. Employees who miss out on crucial sleep are less focused at work and at higher risk for injury. Proactive employers can reduce the impact of fatigue on their workplace and help keep their workers safe.
It has become increasingly common for American workers to report sleeping less than the recommended amount each night. A recent national survey found that more than one-third of Americans sleep less than seven hours each night. More than one in 10 reported sleeping less than six hours. Fatigue greatly impacts the workplace in terms of productivity:
- Workers who sleep fewer than six hours per night cost employers about six workdays a year in productivity
- Employees who sleep six to seven hours each night cost employers 3.7 workdays a year in productivity
Employees who work night or rotating shifts report more than twice the rate of missed workdays, resulting in increased absenteeism costs. While night and rotating shift structures are sometimes necessary, they have been linked to an increased risk of accidents and injuries.
The magnitude of this risk varies by industry, but in general, shifts of 10 hours or longer are consistently linked to increased risk of injury, and performance tends to diminish over the course of the shift.
Extended duration work shifts also increase the risk of injuries, accidents and errors, and motor vehicle crashes on the commute to and from work.
Sleep disorders are a major driver of costs in the workplace. When sleep disorders result in lost or poor sleep for an employee or an employee's spouse, their workplace may see an impact on:
- Presenteeism (being present at work but not fully functioning)
- Healthcare costs
- Costly accidents
Total Cost at a Typical Workplace
A typical employer with 1,000 employees can expect to experience more than $1 million lost each year to fatigue: $272,000 due to absenteeism and $776,000 due to presenteeism. An additional $536,000 in healthcare costs could be avoided with optimization of sleep health.