"Managing your energy is more important than managing your time." (AG Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble).
Whilst a great many organisations now run excellent health and wellbeing programmes for their staff, the elephant slumped in the corner of the room is employee energy. The simple fact is that after four tough years, employees are worn out. Longer working hours, greater workloads additional stress and pressure all contribute to burnout. Simply put - your staff are too tired to do their jobs safely and productively but neither you nor they know it. Back in 2008 a comprehensive study by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (together with the Integrated Benefits Institute) found that Fatigue is the single greatest productivity cost affecting organisations (with sleeping problems 4th). When taking into account medical and pharmacy costs fatigue was the third greatest and sleeping problems 5th. It's fair to say that employee energy - which encompasses sleeping problems and fatigue - has not been on most organisation's health and wellbeing agenda.
More frequently programmes concentrating on exercise and nutrition have been employed. I'm not knocking any programme that is developed to help staff - certainly not. BUT in difficult times finite budgets should be focused on areas that will deliver the greatest results.
So why does employee energy matter?
- Work-life balance - we all need sufficient energy to make a full contribution in all aspects of our life not just at work.
- Employee engagement - where we are unable to make a full contribution in all aspects we become resentful of the causes. If this is work pressures then engagement will suffer.
- Stress - fatigue and stress are common companions. When tired we find it more difficult to cope and when stressed we find it more difficult to sleep. It is easy to enter a downward cycle.
- Health - Numerous studies have linked poor sleep to worsened health. Be it greater susceptibility to colds and flus to more serious conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and depression.
- Productivity - when tired we lack motivation. Our work suffers and the chance of any creativity or innovation is minimal.
So what are the costs implications for my business? Cranfield Management School estimates that 520 hours per employee per annum are lost simply by failing to manage their energy correctly. Dame Carole Black in her Health, Work and Wellbeing initiative estimates that presenteeism costs the UK economy £15bn per annum. In 2011 the Mental Health Foundation estimated that the cost of sleep deprivation in the UK was £1.6bn per annum. So what happens next? To discover if you have a problem and to build a solution you need to know the extent, impact and causes of the problem. You should run an assessment for all staff. From there you can develop programmes and delivery methods that suit the different areas of your workforce. We hope we have given you a little food for thought as you begin to plan health and wellbeing programmes for 2013. This blog post is an extract from the comprehensive white paper "Why you should put Employee Energy at the forefront of your staff health and wellbeing strategy?" which you can download here. Marcus de Guingand is managing director of fatigue assessment and training tools provider, Third Pillar of Health. We welcome any and all contributions from the community, so please feel free to share your views and opinions with us, your colleagues and peers via our blogs section.