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Office Health Trends for 2018

Meditation in an office chair

Over the past several months we’ve brought you matters to do with health and fitness a number of times, both in terms of ways to exercise on your way to work, and measures you can take whilst at work to try and maintain fitness and concentration. Most of us will have heard the phrase “mens sana in corpore sano”, or at least some version of it, and understand the meaning, that a healthy mind will exist more easily in a healthy body, which is a slight paraphrase, but it fits! But really health and fitness is only half the story...

Which is why we’ve also mentioned the need to get a good night’s sleep with the reminder that you can’t burn the candle at both ends and expect to get away with it, and whilst this might be obvious it’s a point easily ignored and often laughed at...after all, didn’t Maggie Thatcher manage on four hours sleep a night, and who needs sleep anyway? To which the answer is “You do, and so do I”. And that’s the simple truth, and very much the other half of the story.

We believe that sleep is going to be the great health trend of this coming year, and probably next year too. Did you know that 86% of parents in the UK (presumably of younger children) suffer from fatigue? And that 26% of these get less than five hours sleep a night? Did you know that 1 in 5 parents admits to having a snooze at work? It’s in the light of statistics like this that the importance of sleep to an employer begins to come into focus, and that’s where we’re heading in this blog...

Apparently some David Lloyd gyms now offer what they call “Napercise” classes, a mid-afternoon 45 minutes of restorative sleep that sets participants up for the rest of the day, enabling them to achieve far more than they otherwise would have done, which may sound outrageous, but makes a lot of sense! Sleep has never been much of a consideration to employers, but that’s set to change...

Let’s be clear, it’s not just the matter of overcoming tiredness. Lack of sleep is known to lead to both anxiety and depression, it saps energy to the point that exercise is forgotten and it robs the mental clarity to make good decisions, even over simple things like what to eat for dinner. Just to rub the point in McKinsey, one of the world’s top business consultancies, reports that extended periods without sleep leaves you as incapable as having a blood alcohol level of 0.1%, more than enough to get you into trouble.

So what is business doing about it?

The answer is: More than you might think!

Interestingly 70% of the190+ business leaders who took part in McKinsey’s sleep survey said that sleep management should be taught in organisations along with more usual learning programmes such as time management and communication skills. Other companies are going further, insisting that no work is taken home and no work calls made in the evening. One software company is offering a $7500 bonus to employees who take a holiday and promise to do no work. Several companies now have snooze rooms, with many more recognising the benefits these offer.

So, what can smaller businesses do to help their employees?  A start point is to recognise the value of sleep and to encourage it. If a member of staff works late into the evening, give them the morning off. Don’t make people feel bad about cat-napping during the lunch hour, or about taking a lunch hour in the first place. Try asking staff how they slept and see what can be done to help those suffering from a lack, and recognise how the parents of young children may need some understanding. You’ll be amazed at the difference a regular good night’s sleep will make to the efficiency of your work place!

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