The Benefits of Corporate Mindfulness Programs
With 80% of US employees reporting they are stressed from work, corporate mindfulness programs are needed now more than ever. Mindfulness programs have recently been picked up by leading corporations such as Google, Apple, Nike, and Goldman Sachs for their employees to use. This is because research has found that mindfulness increases work engagement along with overall well-being. According to Forbes “businesses with mindful teams are better equipped to compete in today’s ever-changing environment”.
What are Mindfulness Programs?
The American Psychological Association defines mindfulness as a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. Mindfulness means being in tune with what is happening to our bodies and our surroundings as it happens. Being mindful is the opposite of being on “auto-pilot”. While “auto-pilot” mode may seem effective in the workplace as it related to productivity, in the end, it does more harm than good. Mindfulness programs are designed to slow people down through the use of breathing exercises, visualizations, and other relaxation techniques.
The Need for Mindfulness in the Workplace
High workloads and constant distractions, mixed with the ever blurring line separating work and home life, can cause great strain for employees. This negative effect on employee well-being can hurt the company’s bottom line. Fortunately, more and more corporations are realizing that healthy employees mean better employees. The benefits from mindfulness spill over into the workplace. Not only does mindfulness improve an individual’s mental and physical health, but it can also produce better employees: a win-win. A Taiwanese study, referenced by Harvard Medical School had over 3,000 employees participate in an eight-week mindfulness program. The study found that had less prolonged fatigue — that feeling of exhaustion that doesn’t go away even after having a chance to rest. They also felt less stressed, reported reduced anxiety and depression, and had fewer sleep difficulties, aches and pains, and problems getting along with others.
Corporate Mindfulness Programs = ROI
A highly stressed employee costs the company an additional $2,000 per year in healthcare when compared to their less-stressed peers. In 2012, as corporate mindfulness programs became more popular, health care costs fell to 7 percent, which equates to $6.3 million going to the bottom line. Stress also leads to burnout, which can lead to employee turnover. Experts at Harvard Business School estimated that unwanted turnover can cost up to 200 percent of an employee’s annual salary. One recent study examined the relationship between company mindfulness programs and retention. Researchers found a significant relationship between mindfulness and higher levels of commitment among employees to their current employer. Offering mindfulness programs can serve as a way to recruit top talent. A company that shows they care about their employees’ well-being is going to look more attractive than a competitor.
Meditation Programs for Corporations
Mindfulness is most commonly practiced through meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation which “involves paying close attention to the present moment — especially our own thoughts, emotions, and sensations”, (New York Times). According to the authors of the book Thriving in Healthcare, “practicing some form of meditation that enhances mindfulness has been found to be one of the “meta-factors” that distinguishes some of our culture’s most successful business leaders and performers across disciplines.”
Google, a 320 billion dollar corporation, with about 140,000 employees, is a big proponent of mindfulness meditation. The company has an entire team devoted solely to teaching employees how to meditate, with seven different types of classes offered, including guided meditation for the workplace.
There’s a misconception that meditation requires an abundance of time. There’s also the false belief that it can take hours of practice before reaping the benefits. While consistency is helpful to maintain good results, people have reported improvements from mindfulness meditation after just one short session.
Benefits to Employee Health
Corporations without mindfulness programs could experience financial burden over ones that do. That’s because research in the past few decades has uncovered that mindfulness can improve well-being. There is a long list of reasons why mindfulness meditation is a healthy lifestyle choice, and there is ever-growing research to back it up. While participation in mindfulness programs is a good choice for anyone, it can be especially valuable for employees who impact the success of a business. The following are only some of the benefits that business leaders should know about.
Reduction and Better Management of Stress
Meditating on a regular basis reduces stress including the long-term effects of stress on the body and mind. Mindfulness Meditation can also increase one’s resilience when it comes to handling stress. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the immune system. Every job comes with a fair share of stress. The ability to cope with that stress is crucial for good job performance. A longitudinal study cited by UC Berkeley found that more mindful individuals were less likely to consider their day-to-day experiences as stressful. They also reported less frequent use of avoidant coping strategies and reported higher use of approach coping.
Increases Overall Productivity
Insurance company Aetna estimates that since instituting its mindfulness program, it has gained about $3,000 per employee in productivity. Mindfulness discourages multitasking. Despite popular belief, multitasking is not a skill for success. Someone with the tools that allow them to narrow in on a singular task at hand is much more productive. With mindfulness practice, a person is better able to focus on that conference call as they work from home, or disregard their phone as they read a report.
Increase in Performance
Most employees will tire as the day wears on. Their performance, which is tied to energy levels, will decrease as they become tired. Meditation can dramatically increase performance by allowing employees to recharge in as little as 20 minutes. Scientists and doctors have shown that a 20-minute Meditation session is the equivalent of a 2+ hour sleep/nap. Even a 5-minute Meditation will calm and reset the mind and increase performance.
Sharpens Attention Span
This is a time of constant distraction. When employees give in to the distractions it results in loss of revenue for the company. There has been a lot of research detailing the relationship between mindfulness and attention. Generally, past research has found that mindfulness meditation training improves executive attention, which is “our ability to regulate our responses, particularly in conflict situations”, (Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development).
More specifically, a 2018 study concluded that a mindfulness meditation session of only 10 minutes improved executive attentional control. This was true for participants who were new to meditation. This finding suggests that even one brief session can reap benefits. Attention span goes hand in hand with productivity, so improving the former will increase the latter.
Depression can be debilitating. Depression tends to affect people in their prime working years and may last a lifetime if untreated. Left untreated, depression would cost over $51 billion in absenteeism from work and lost productivity. Antidepressants and psychotherapy are typically the go-to treatments. However, recent studies have found mindfulness meditation programs to be effective, because of their ability to change how the brain reacts to stress. Research suggests that meditation focusing on reducing worry and rumination (such as mindfulness mediation) may be especially useful in reducing the risk of developing clinical depression.
Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States, most of these are of working age. People with anxiety have a hard time coping with the distracting thoughts they experience. In the workplace, this can prevent employees with anxiety from adequately performing their duties. Anti-anxiety medications are often prescribed, but they can come with negative side effects. Mindfulness meditation, a more natural approach teaches people to let thoughts pass by without judgment, instead of ruminating over the negative ones. New research suggests that people can begin to obtain both physical and mental benefits from mindfulness meditation after a single introductory session.
Decreases Chronic Pain
The 25.5 million Americans suffering from chronic pain face many obstacles besides the pain itself. The ability to perform one’s job is one of those obstacles. According to health economists from Johns Hopkins University, chronic pain costs as much as $635 billion per year. Fortunately, there is increasing evidence showing that mindfulness practice reduces a person’s pain experience. A 2015 study looked at the effectiveness of practicing mindfulness and managing pain. Those who participated in the mindfulness program had brain images showing less activation in the areas of the brain that receive pain messages.
Creativity & Problem Solving
Meditation allows the mind to tap into creativity & problem solving that become blocked due to continuous stress, anxiety and other factors.
- Meditation sharpens the mind and allows people to be more creative.
- Meditation can be performed during a lunch or coffee break.
- Employees can use a Meditation break to de-stress from events that can become exhausting and overwhelming during the day.
- Meditation will prepare an employee for a major presentation by putting them into a relaxed and focused state.
Research conducted by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) found that mindfulness meditation activates altruism. Subjects were randomly assigned to either an online meditation session or a control. Researchers measured their willingness to donate a portion of their payment for participation as a charitable donation. The study found that individuals who participated in mindfulness meditation donated more than those who did not. Compassion in the workplace is a vital ingredient to foster communication and cooperation among co-workers.
Build a Stronger Workforce Today
Corporate mindfulness programs are a smart investment. There’s a reason why many of the top companies in the world have embraced these programs for their employees to utilize. Healthy employees lead to a healthy company.
Employees are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and bombarded with a constant information overload. This, mixed with the COVID-19 pandemic leaves employees searching for some kind of refuge. More and more companies have turned to mindfulness programs to meet the needs of their employees. Meditation House offers an array of options to fit your company’s needs – from online to in-person, live or recorded with guided meditations spanning from 15 minutes to an hour. The program is secular and includes guided meditations for the workplace that can be accessed on any device. It doesn’t matter if employees are new to meditation. It is designed to fit everyone’s experience level.
Click here to read more about the programs that Meditation House has to offer or call (888) 377-7761.