Mindfulness in the Workplace
Mindfulness programs are getting a lot of attention these days, with many corporations introducing and integrating mindfulness training to their wellness program ensembles. Tech giant Google (currently #1 on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work for List for the fourth consecutive year) even has their very own Head of Mindfulness Training, Chade-Meng Tan. Officially known by the search engine as their "Jolly Good Fellow", Tan's role is "to enlighten minds, open hearts and create world peace," and he does this through training employees in the Buddhist practice of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness: What is it? Is it just the next new "uber-cool" perk that organizations as diverse as Silicon Valley tech companies, General Mills, and Goldman Sachs are adding to their roster as they compete for top talent? Is it an ancient Buddhist practice? Actually, it may be a bit of both. According to this article from the American Psychological Association, often associated with practices such as yoga, tai chi and meditation, mindfulness is "a moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgment." Mindfulness meditation, specifically, focuses on "training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calmness, clarity and concentration."
As great companies seek to expand the ways they can support their employees' health and wellness, mindfulness programs—including meditation courses, "mindful leadership" practices, and more—have become an increasingly popular addition to the employee perks and benefits portfolio.
Mindfulness Programs: More than another Employee "Perk"
Research studies, such as these from Ohio State University and Carnegie Mellon University, have shown that mindfulness-based interventions in the workplace can decrease stress levels and the risk of burnout. And because stress costs U.S. companies an estimated $200 billion to $300 billion in lost productivity each year, mindfulness programs could be worth the investment.
Besides the direct business benefit of stress reduction, as with most health and wellness offerings, these types of programs demonstrate a genuine respect and care for employees' well-being. Based on our many years of research at Great Place to Work®, showing respect for employees as people—not just as employees—is an essential component of every great workplace. Consider mindfulness programs not only a way to reduce employee stress and increase productivity, but also as a way to show respect for your organization's most valuable asset – its people.