If you have ever faced issues with productivity, absenteeism, turnover or job satisfaction at workplace then mindfulness might be the solution you have been looking for.
What is mindfulness?
Wikipedia defines mindfulness as the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The practice was made popular in modern world by Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn through his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program which was launched in the 70’s.
Initially mindfulness techniques were focused on relieving pain, however over the last decade mindfulness has been transformed into a tool used to reduce stress and increase productivity among people using simple breathing and relaxation techniques. Regular practice helps improve creativity, cognitive flexibility, and innovation.
Why you should implement a mindfulness program?
1. Increased productivity and happiness
A decade of research has brought out the significant measurable benefits of mindfulness in reducing stress and anxiety leading to healthier, happier and more productive individuals. General Mills surveyed some of its employees who participated in a seven week mindfulness course and the results were incredible. 83 percent of participants said they were taking time each day to improve their personal productivity and among the seniors who participated, 80 percent said they had experienced a positive change in their ability to make better decisions (UNC).
2. Improved creativity and focus
Regular practice of mindfulness increases mental focus and improves creativity among people. 1,500 Intel employees reported a decrease in stress by two points and increase in happiness by three points (on a 10 point scale) after a 19 session mindfulness course. They also reported a two point increase in having new ideas, insights, mental clarity, creativity, the ability to focus, the quality of relationships at work and the level of engagement in meetings, projects and team efforts (UNC). Based on the success of the program Intel has decided to expand mindfulness program to more than 10,000 employees across 63 countries.
3. Lower health costs
American businesses lose an estimated $300 billion annually on account of stress (WHO). In fact stress also plays a leading role in conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Implementing mindfulness programs has shown measurable impact in lowering health costs for companies and its employees. Employees at Aetna reported a close to 30% reduction in their stress levels and a 20% improvement in sleep quality after attending mindfulness sessions. Aetna discovered that its annual healthcare expenditure reduced by almost $2,000 for employees participating in the mindfulness program with the added benefit of productivity gain worth $3,000 per employee per year.
How do you implement a mindfulness program?
You have various options of implementing a mindfulness program at different scale whether by employing mindfulness expert practitioners, online video courses, partnering with mindfulness research institutes or developing your own custom program.
Aetna has developed programs with Viniyoga Stress Reduction and Mindfulness at Works in collaboration with Duke University, eMindful, and the American Viniyoga Institute to teach mindfulness. Google has started a program called Search Inside Yourself whereby it tries to bring together emotional intelligence and mindfulness. Adobe Systems is creating a tailored meditation program developed in consultation with experienced meditation practitioners. General Mills offers a four-day retreat for officers and senior managers, a two-day training program for new managers, and a two-hour class that meets for seven consecutive weeks that is available to all employees. Companies like Goldman Sachs Group, Blackrock, Bank of America have all started their individual programs.
Does a mindfulness program make sense for your company?
Before you decide on implementing a mindfulness program, you need answers to the following questions.
1. What business goals do you aim to achieve through a mindfulness program at work?
It could range from increasing general productivity or improved decision making by senior leadership or improved employee wellness or other goals.
2. How do you quantify these goals and measure current state of the workforce?
Do you have the necessary data and tools (like HappyOffice.io) in place to measure wellness before and after the roll out of your program.
3. Is your company ready for a mindfulness program?
A lot of companies implement such programs bottom-up with the help of expert practitioners. Does your company culture view this favorably.
Ultimately it is important that mindfulness program must be aligned to your employee wellness program and company culture for it to be successful in delivering tangible results.