Sick Leave and Sleep – The 4 Million Dollar Connection

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Making the case for investing in the sleep of your workforce is not always an easy sell, especially within industries without any fatigue management regulations. The Occupational Health and Safety Pros get it, but the Financiers need to see numbers. They want to see a return on their investment. Over the years I have saved up a number of compelling examples for capturing the executive attention.

Here is one of my favourites. I ask “How would you like to reduce your sick leave by 28%?” Then I give them an example.

"One person with sleep problems is more likely to take 10 days or more in sick leave annually. At $30 per hour, this person is costing you $240 for every sick day. At 10 sick days, this will cost you $2,400 per year. In a company of 100 people, sick leave could cost you $240,000 per year. A recent study showed that sick leave could be decreased by 28% if you address the sleep problems of your workforce[1]. In one year, you could recuperate $67,200 in sick leave. Across 10 years, this turns into $672,000, or more, when you factor in pay raises and inflation.”

Then I say “I have 5 more fatigue risk factors we could look at; each one could save you similar amounts in operating costs. Five times $672,000 plus the first $672,000 in sick leave puts $4,032,000 back into your budget across 10 years.”

Four million dollars just by addressing sleep and fatigue issues. Isn’t that worth an investment?


[1] Lallukka, T., Kaikkonen, R., Härkänen, T., Kronholm, E., Partonen, T., Rahkonen, O., & Koskinen, S. (2014).  Sleep and sickness absence: A nationally representative register-based follow-up study. Sleep, 37(9), 1413-1425.