Copy The Top Mindfulness Companies To Be Successful At Work
A kind and wonderful lady used to work in my old team. Let’s call her Nancy. Our team was exactly the kind of organization that workplace mindfulness programs were targeting; a very corporate, fast-paced, agile tech company.
Nancy understood that people were struggling with the pandemic in general and that working from home made life even more difficult. So nancy proposed a weekly call for meditation and mindfulness training as she had found that it had helped her with stress.
On a Wednesday morning, dozens of faces filled the screen of her first guided meditation Zoom call.
Nancy found a soothing video of gentle wind chimes with a background video of rolling waves on a tropical beach. She began to instruct everyone to sit comfortably and start focusing on their breath. And everything seemed to be going perfectly…
…That was until after the meditation session when several emails started to arrive in our manager’s inbox asking where some of her team members were. Nearly a quarter of her team had fallen asleep. Thankfully things improved and Nancy continues to hold her meditation and mindfulness sessions once a week.
Welcome to the wonderful world of corporate mindfulness.
What does it mean to be mindful in the workplace?
Being mindful in the workplace is to be fully aware of what is going on around you, moment by moment, and fully aware of how you are feeling internally. Mindfulness is to be constantly present in the moment and aware of what you are doing, whilst also being aware of your emotional and mental state.
Related: I Used These 14 ‘Mindful In Work’ Tips To Get Promoted
Benefits of mindfulness in the workplace
Large organizations never invest in anything…time or money…if it doesn’t have a good return. And with some of the most profitable companies bringing mindfulness into the workplace, it seems to be working.
But it’s not just the management that benefits from it, their employees are seeing the benefits too.
Here are some of the ways that meditation and mindfulness can benefit you and your workplace.
Mindfulness helps with dealing with uncertainty and improving adaptability at work
As more a more companies are moving to an agile way of working, long gone are the days when every detail had to be mapped out for a project from start to end.
To say there never was any uncertainty is a lie, but people had the mental security of the ‘infallible’ plan. And if something went wrong it was easy to blame someone (always someone else) that wasn’t doing their job properly.
Being more agile means being more transparent and working moment by moment on the task at hand. This aligns perfectly with mindfulness as a key part of mindfulness is to be focused on the present, moment by moment. Less ruminating about what’s happened and less worrying about what might happen means people are more focused on what they are doing.
Mindfulness helps with reducing stress levels at work
Stress is bad for business. In a 2022 study, they found:
- 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress, with 25% saying their job is the number one stressor in their lives.
- About one million Americans miss work each day because of stress.
- 76% of US workers report that workplace stress affects their personal relationships.
- Depression-induced absenteeism costs US businesses $51 billion a year, as well as an additional $26 billion in treatment costs.
- Middle-aged participants had a 27% increase in the belief that their financial status would be affected by stress in the 2010s compared to the 1990s.
- More than 50% of workers are not engaged at work as a result of stress, leading to a loss of productivity.
- Companies spend around 75% of a worker’s annual salary to cover lost productivity or to replace workers.
- The main causes of workplace stress are workload (39% of workers), interpersonal issues (31%), juggling work and personal life (19%), and job security (6%).
In a recent study, participants reported that mindfulness meditation reduced stress levels and increased productivity at work.
Mindfulness improves problem-solving skills
You’ll find mindfulness in companies that have a strong reputation for pushing boundaries, and that’s no surprise since one of the benefits of mindfulness is that it increases creativity. There are studies that show that meditation can improve brain symmetry, improving focus, and concentration. With access to more of the grey matter, we see improved performance in the ability to creatively find solutions to problems and identify new ideas.
Mindfulness helps with learning
Mindfulness helps to learn in two ways:
- It helps improve focus: by being able to pay attention for longer periods participants are able to absorb more information
- A rested brain is better at learning: The time we make for meditation, and the reduced stress all contribute to absorbing information like a sponge. Stress reduces the brain’s ability to learn so having a more rested mind helps with learning.
Mindfulness helps with emotional intelligence
No matter how isolated your role is, interactions with others are unavoidable. I was having this same conversation with one of the developers in our squad, a group of people who spend most of their day writing code instead of talking to others. My argument was that with meditation practice not only was he improving his problem-solving skills, but also training his mind to understand others better.
By spending time learning about our own thoughts and emotions, we become better at understanding others. Combine this with your ability to focus for longer, you really get to understand what the person is saying both verbally and emotionally.
Leadership can really benefit from this by really hearing what their teams are saying. When we are paying attention, we can really understand what an employee is trying to say, which sometimes goes beyond just the words coming out of their mouth.
Mindfulness and meditation help to reduce burnout
One of the highest business healthcare costs relates to employees dealing with burnout.
From an employee standpoint, we often continue through the day on autopilot, not really stopping to pay attention to how we feel. With regular mindfulness practice, you can search inside and really begin to understand the state of your mind and recognize when you’re taking on too much.
In companies that aren’t using mindfulness programs, there is a fear of saying that you are overworked, often seen as a sign of weakness. But more and more companies are realizing that a happier and healthier workforce is also more productive.
Mindfulness improves decision-making
Making the right decisions depends on several factors. A calm mind, all of the required information, and a good team.
- Calm mind: mindfulness and meditation help to reduce worrying about the past and future and focus on the task at hand. When we’re not spending our energy on things we can’t control, we are better equipt to make decisions.
- All the information we need to make the right decision: Improved focus and a calm mind are more conducive to learning making it easier to have the information we need in decision-making.
- A supportive advisor: Having a positive environment that promotes wellness encourages employee engagement. A more engaged team is more likely to talk about ideas and find solutions to problems, all contributing to making the right decisions.
Which companies use mindfulness programs for their employees
It’s probably not a surprise that as one of the most innovative organizations, Google has been a strong advocate of mindfulness and meditation.
As one of the first organizations to adopt mindfulness programs since 2012 Google has hired several mindfulness leaders to teach employees the benefits and how to practice meditation.
Most commonly noted for driving a mindfulness culture into Google is former engineer Chade Meng Tan. Chade Meng Tan introduced the Seach Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) which has now grown to become a globally recognized institute that “…offers programs, tools and content on mindfulness-based emotional intelligence, empathy, compassion, resilience, [and] leadership”
Nike encourages their employees to “Just do it” when it comes to looking after their wellness. They began to offer free yoga and meditation classes in their New York offices, and spaces for meditation and napping.
Another mammoth tech organization, Intel was inspired by the work done by Chade Meng Tan at Google. Led by Lindsey Benjamin, the Awake@intel was introduced which offered an 8-week mindfulness and meditation program and free yoga sessions.
Benjamin found implementing mindfulness practices with very set-in-their-way scientists difficult at first, but the more the employees started to see the benefits of the mindfulness program, the more other teams at Intel began to adopt the techniques.
Aetna is a major success story when discussing the employee and business benefits of mindfulness. Aetna is a medical insurance company and one of the top 100 largest revenue companies in the US.
After a serious near-fatal accident CEO Mark T. Bertolini made significant changes to Aetna including free yoga and meditation classes and a 33% pay rise to the bottom-paid employees.
Not only was a marked improvement in well-being and lower stress amongst employees, but the company reported a saving of $9 million in health care costs!
When you think of Goldman Sachs you don’t really think about touchy-feely mindfulness programs. But the investment bank has been on a corporate mindfulness journey since 2014 adopting mindfulness seminars and promoting the use of the Headspace app.
Head of capital management at Goldman Sachs, Sally Boyle, said “In years to come we’ll be talking about mindfulness as we talk about exercise now”.
How can I promote mindfulness in my workplace?
Remember Nancy? She’s moved on to another company. But before she left, her meditation classes had grown from 20 people on a Zoom call (and all staying awake) to working with our Human Resources department to create mindfulness and mental resilience course for the entire organization.
If you want to want to bring mindfulness into your company, here are some tips:
Start with yourself
There’s no better way to persuade others to meditate than leading by example.
As you start noticing opportunities to be mindful, write these down so you can share them. Examples could include meditation before meetings and walking meditation for even short trips to the tea & coffee area.
Make it fun
LinkedIn had a great idea of offering employees the chance to win a raffle if they meditated for 20 out of 30 days.
Watch the language
With such a wide group of people in any organization, it’s best to keep language science-based and secular. Any cultural references in the mindfulness program may impinge on some people’s values.
Form a test group
Like Nancy, form a group of willing participants willing to regularly meditate and share ideas on how to better implement meditation in the work environment.
One learning we had early on was to start creating a tracker to measure the effect of meditation. Some Key Performance Indicators we used were:
- Tracking how many times the employee meditated
- How happy we felt before and after the program
- Was the program helping with the demands of the job
- Did anyone else notice a change in our mood
- Were there any opportunities during the day when we could adopt mindfulness and meditation?
Share your findings with the right team
After your test group, you’ll probably have more data and suggestions on how to embed mindfulness in your organization.
Your Human Resources department is likely to be interested in hearing about your findings (and feel free to share the stats I used in the “Mindfulness helps with reducing stress levels at work” section.
Identify external support
If your company doesn’t have the expertise or infrastructure to support wider mindfulness training, there are a growing number of companies that offer professional mindfulness courses.
There is a range of places to find meditation training companies, but a great place to start is LinkedIn. The platform is more directed towards business use and you can generally find testimonies and comments from other companies that have used their services.
Related: Meditation at Work: The Game-Changing Habit for a Better Workday
The pace of change is constantly increasing, and with it comes more challenges both at home and work. Never before has it been more important to create a time and space to focus on our mental wellness. Mindfulness at work can help increase productivity, motivate and improve the mental health of the employees and reduce health care costs. It’s practically a win-win for the business and the people that work for them.