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How to Waste $63 Billion Dollars

Saturday, October 8, 2011 by Slaughter Development

A new study from Harvard Medical School reports that US employers are losing $63 billion a year. The culprit is the familiar diagnosis of insomnia.

As reported by CBS News:

The average worker loses 11 days and $2,300 in productivity each year by not getting enough shut-eye. These people are still on the job, just dragging.

“We were shocked by the enormous impact insomnia has on the average person’s life,” [wrote] study author Dr. Ronald C. Kessler.

“Americans are not missing work because of insomnia. They are still going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they’re tired.”

The report data came from a survey of over 7,000 employees. More than a fifth of respondents indicated that they were “insomniacs.” The researchers also analyzed variables such as gender, age and education level.

Unfortunately, the prescription for this billion dollar problem doesn’t really address the real issue. According to the article:

Kessler said employers tend to ignore insomnia’s consequences since it’s not considered a real disease. He hopes his finding will encourage employers to pay for treatment programs, which can cost up to $1,200 a year for therapy.

What’s the cause of insomnia? According to the National Institutes of Health, a lack of refreshing sleep is usually caused by stress or anxiety, or by alcohol and caffeine—the two drugs we use to manage stress and anxiety.

Insomnia treatment programs might help, but it should be clear that there’s a more fundamental reason that employees are less productive due to lack of sleep: the stress of their working hours. If workers show up at the office at 8AM sharp but had trouble falling asleep the night before, is the mandatory arrival time really a good idea? If employees are struggling with unreasonable expectations which leads to them lying awake at night with stress, maybe it’s time to address the volume of work?

Here at Slaughter Development, we’re trying to fight insomnia by actually being reasonable. It’s part of our philosophy on task management:

Please conduct your work wherever and whenever you feel you can be most productive, most efficient, most effective and most satisfied.

Had to stay up all night with a sick child? Just let someone know that you will be catching up on sleep instead of working on a project. Concerned about a deadline? Communicate with the team so we can adjust resources and expectations.

Work should not be a cause of distress, but a place filled with opportunity and meaning. Don’t lose sleep over your job. Instead, figure out how to get enough so you can do your job in way that makes you proud.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

More Choices, More Waste - As much as 10% of all supermarket food is dumped because it spoils before it can be sold. This amounts to $20 billion in annual waste in America alone. The cause may be from too many choices for consumers. Read on »
Cutting the Right Waste - Local Indianapolis sales coach Jeff Bowe points out that sales requires being “vigilant in using limited time.” But how should sales professionals manage their time effectively?
Read on »
Waste Not, Get Sued - Eddie House got so good at recycling, composting and reducing his waste that he decided to cancel his garbage service. The official response to his earth-friendly efforts? Sued by local government. Read on »
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