To improve employee well-being, give them their time back

One hour of lost sleep might seem insignificant, but its impact on employee fatigue and stress levels is not. Here’s why it’s important for organizations to empower employees to take back their time.

ARTICLE | 6m read
March 16, 2021

On Daylight Savings, every American loses an hour of sleep as we spring forward. While this sleep loss can make U.S., workers dread the yearly time change, it’s a familiar pain that we’ve arguably learned to live with. After all, what is one hour of lost sleep really worth?

The answer is about $1,967 annually per employee, when you consider fatigue’s costs to productivity, motivation, and health care. While we can’t blame all this on Daylight Savings Time, fatigue is costly both to employee wellness and to an organization’s bottom line. Considering the downsides of sleep loss for both employees and companies, it’s vital for organizations to better focus on employee well-being and empower their workers to take back their lost time.

Why breaks and downtime are essential to employee wellness

The one hour of lost sleep from Daylight Savings Time is enough to throw each employee’s 24-hour natural cycle out of alignment, leading to daytime sleepiness. But while fatigue like this is unfortunate, it’s fair to ask if it’s an organization’s responsibility to help employees recover this lost hour. Why should companies sacrifice work time to encourage employees to take a break and focus on their wellness?

The truth is breaks and downtime are essential to employee well-being. By encouraging workers to take regular breaks, you can reduce fatigue’s negative impact on work performance, concentration, and memory. If your employees need ideas for how to use scheduled downtime, suggest healthy habits like making a nutritious lunch, exercising, meditating, or engaging in other self-care activities. Above all, make it easy for employees to take these breaks without worry. “It has to be safe for people to take time to take care of themselves and to ask for help — especially when it comes to mental health,” said Donna Kimmel, EVP and Chief People Officer at Citrix.

The bottom line impact of fatigue and stress

Even with this clear connection between break time and employee wellness, many organizations still struggle with the idea of building downtime into their workdays. 22 percent of North American bosses say employees who take regular lunch breaks are less hardworking, and no employee wants that label attached to them. Views like this can lead to a company culture that discourages taking breaks and downtime during work hours. The result is a workforce that operates on surge capacity for too long, leading to chronic stress that diminishes productivity and increases sick days.

Considering fatigue at work and its impact to productivity cost U.S. companies approximately $136.4 billion dollars each year, it’s vital we recognize Kimmel’s observation that “well-being isn’t just good for employees, it’s good for companies.” For example, fatigued employees are more likely to make mistakes, take longer to react to new information, and are more likely to be irritable. All these downsides of sleep loss reduce productivity, hurt innovation, and make it harder to collaborate effectively. In short, well-rested employees are more effective employees in every measurable way.


Donna Kimmel
EVP and Chief People Officer

How better technology saves work time (so you can give it back)

As we examine the benefits of giving employees more breaks during the workday, it’s natural to be concerned about losing productivity to increased downtime—even if it’s just an hour of restorative rest after Daylight Savings Time. Here’s the good news: prioritizing employee well-being is good for workers and good for business. With the right policies, tools, and technology in place, your employees can work smarter and take time back without hurting productivity.

Start by examining which routine tasks and approvals can be automated. For example, it’s easy for digital workspaces to use AI and machine learning to automatically perform simple tasks like setting calendar appointments and approving PTO requests. Another useful practice is to examine where technology can lessen the cognitive load on employees, such as adopting FIDO authentication instead of forcing employees to create and remember new passwords every 90 days. By giving your employees the right technology to get their best work done efficiently and effectively, you can easily absorb more downtime in the workday while seeing happier and healthier employees.

Join the #TakeTimeBack movement

We don’t have to passively accept that fatigue is a necessary part of work. That’s why organizations like Citrix are leading the #TakeBackTime movement—putting an increased focus on employee well-being by encouraging workers to take an hour in their workday for recovery and self-care. By joining in this movement to #TakeTimeBack, you can empower your employees to adopt healthier work/life balance and support their well-being.