Would You Sleep More for $500?

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Workplace wellness initiatives are the new burning out at your desk, with corporations zeroing in on employees’ health, placing it as paramount to the work they actually produce. Most recently, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini went on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Tuesday to discuss his company’s just-launched wellness incentivisation program — one where Aetna will pay its staff up to $500 each. "If they can prove they get 20 nights of sleep for seven hours or more in a row, we will give them $25 a night, up $500 a year," Bertolini told CNBC. (And Aetna’s not the only insurance company getting in on wellness: John Hancock is offering its qualifying policyholders 25 percent off of “healthy” foods at Walmart or a cash-back receipt of $50 per month from one of over 70 other national grocers.)

Bertolini went on to stress the importance of sleep. "Being present in the workplace and making better decisions has a lot to do with our business fundamentals,” he said. But not only is it important for your own success, getting quality sleep is critical for your health, too. And with a third of the American population not getting the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep per night, Bertolini’s initiative isn’t just lucrative, but timely as well. In order to track their employees’ sleep, Aetna is using a variety of techniques, including a FitBit as part of the FitBit Wellness Program.

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And FitBit, the top tracking company who made headlines today when one of their fitness trackers saved an owner's life, recently released its own study data on workplace wellness data. Over 75 percent of the CEOs surveyed had already hosted a company-wide activity challenge this year alone, and 80 percent saw corporate wellness programs as key to reducing stress levels at the office, more so, let’s say, than a company-wide Happy Hour. Most importantly, a whopping 94 percent all felt that offering these types of incentivization and initiatives as a necessary component in attracting the best talent.

As companies seek to court talent through these initiatives, top job seekers are looking for programs like Aetna’s. Take, for example, Google. Healthy offerings include free fruit available and within sight at all times, and on-site physicians and nurses should you feel yourself coming down with something in the middle of a brainstorming meeting (Though if you're feeling too lazy to take the stairs, there's a slide at their Mountain View, California, campus).

Then there’s a company like Zappos, who offer many increasingly common workplace wellness extras like gym reimbursements and nap rooms. However, the e-tail giant takes it a step further: They have a designated wellness coordinator, Kelly Maher, who heads up efforts like Recess Tuesdays, where every Tuesday, Maher takes out playground toys and puts them out on the company’s grass-filled plaza, then watches and waits. He finds that people organically come outside, shoot hoops, play tetherball, and the like, according to Mashable.

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And just this week, Twitter announced it would be extending 20 weeks (that's a total of five months) of paid family leave to all of its employees — not just women. The unprecedented program is following how family structures have changed recently, ultimately allowing for more evenly distributed parenting, which allows for happier, healthier employees across the board.

Turns out treating employees well pays off in more ways than one. To measure Aetna’s workplace wellness effectiveness, Duke University researchers studied the program. Results have showed "69 minutes more a month of [worker] productivity on the part of us just investing in wellness and mindfulness," said Bertolini. More work, more money, more sleep? Seems like a triple win.

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