The workplace and meditation are words you probably never expected to hear spoken together. Aren’t they polar opposites, more or less? The first conjures up images of deadlines and stress; the second leads to thoughts of calmness and peace.
Well, that’s exactly why they two are a match made in corporate heaven. In our fast-paced lives, our workplaces tend to be equally hectic, and stress is one of the main by-products. Unfortunately, when we’re stressed, we may have trouble focusing and our productivity declines. These signals tell us it’s time to slow down and recharge our batteries.
The Benefits of Meditation in the Workplace
In the recent past, workers would plow ahead, saving their stress relief for gym sessions after work or simply let it fester. Today, many corporations have become aware of another way for employees to deal with stress that yields better results, both for the person and the company: meditation.
Meditation in Business – A Case in Stress Reduction
Research has shown that there are many sound reasons to promote meditation, of course, in addition to alertness and stress reduction. For example, hbr.org reports that bringing meditation to the workplace also improves listening and decision-making skills, as well as improving employee engagement.
There are all kinds of health benefits also associated with meditation, and a healthy workforce is a productive one. For instance, in a study published in the journal Pain Medicine in 2014, the researchers found that people who underwent a meditation-based stress reduction program did significantly better than others in managing chronic pain and appeared to have more vitality.
Meditation for Work Stress
Researchers at Britain’s University of Westminster found that a group of senior managers who participated in a 12-week meditation training program had significantly enhanced self-confidence overall, according to the results published in the Academy of Management Proceedings.
So, move over, yoga – it looks as if you have company. Meditation is apparently on a trajectory to becoming another billion dollar industry. In fact, a variety of major corporations has already hopped on the bandwagon.
Google, a company that considers itself very socially conscious, has offered meditation courses since 2007, with seven from which to choose. Its most renowned is called Search Inside Yourself, which has three parts: attention training, self-knowledge and self-mastery, and the creation of useful mental habits.
The course boasts more than 1,000 alumni and continues to be in demand, partly because Google’s corporate work ethic cries out for such courses. The pace and the pressure are intense.
“When you get to a place like this, it can tear you apart” if you don’t find a way to handle the hard-driving culture,” Blaise Pabon, a Google enterprise sales engineer, told the N.Y. Times.
Work Meditation Programs – A Reaction to Increased Demands on Employees?
Brandon Atkinson, the chief people officer at AppNexus, an online advertising agency, told www.mainstreet.com that meditation is “a reaction to the always-on workplace,” he said. “A lot of employees are feeling frazzled and finding it harder to focus. [It’s] is about being present. In an always on culture that is important.”
He believes meditation is an investment in the employee. AppNexus offers twice weekly meditation sessions and has a meditation room in its New York City offices.
Other corporations have begun to implement their own meditation programs. What they all have in common is the goal of freeing employees’ minds from the relentless noise that plagues them, relaxing them and allowing them to focus.
“The human mind wanders for half to two-thirds of the day,” said Amit Sood, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Corporate Productivity and Meditation Initiatives
General Mills, based in Minneapolis, launched its meditation programs in 2006 under the aegis of former senior employee Janice Marturano, who promoted it as a tool for employees to “clarify their thinking, increasing personal fulfillment and workplace productivity.”
The company offers four-day sessions for senior managers, a two-day program for new managers, and a seven-week class for all employees, along with weekly meditation sessions.
Aetna Insurance launched a pair of meditation programs in 2010 to reduce employee stress and improve employee reactions to stress. The programs have been so successful that they now offer them to clients.
Their evaluation of the programs showed that participants demonstrated improvement in various heart rate measurements afterward, as well as lower levels of perceived stress, hbr.org reported.
In fact, meditation programs and downloads are becoming popular among employees and others across North America. Learning to relax has never been so easy, both at work and at home.
Not meditating yet? It’s easier than you think.