More HR managers and corporate leaders are turning to the concept of mindfulness, along with the tradition of meditation, as a way to improve overall employee wellness and health. Is this approach a simpler, less expensive alternative to hit-or-miss employee health initiatives or smoke and mirrors?
There is a wealth of research that indicates meditation is not just for hippies after drum circle. In 2014, health researchers at Johns Hopkins examined thousands of previous studies on meditation and determined that 47 had reliable findings. Those findings, according to the Johns Hopkins team, revealed “moderate” evidence that meditation helps reduce anxiety, depression, and even pain.
But beyond the clinical trials advocating meditation and mindfulness training, how can this approach to employee wellness improve workplaces, and is it worth it to fit a mindfulness approach on employees who might be resistant to the idea?
The researchers at Johns Hopkins admitted that some of the studies they identified as ‘reliable’ could have been affected by bias in observational studies. People likely to sign up for a study on meditation are also more likely to practice meditation themselves and believe in its emotional and cognitive abilities before the study takes place.
Still, there’s no reason why a mindfulness approach to employee health at work won’t create a calmer, healthier, and more efficient workplace.
Employee Wellness Is a Worthy Goal
Mindfulness emphasizes awareness and clarity, focus and concentration, and compassion and kindness. All of these things are ingredients of a happier, more efficient workforce. How to build a culture based on mindfulness can be difficult.
Architecture of a Mindful Corporate Culture
Researchers didn’t find huge differences between transcendental meditation, which uses a mantra one repeats silently, and mindfulness meditation, which is less regimented and involves simply sitting with one’s eyes closed and trying to focus on breathing. A step towards a more mindful workplace doesn’t necessarily mean mindful meditation, or even meditation at all, but incorporating a few minutes of silence and deep breathing while attempting to end one’s thoughts can have huge benefits.
Here’s a scenario: You need a shift in corporate culture. Too many people are intentionally or unintentionally wasting too much time and work is getting lost in the shuffle. A simple shift in the work schedule to allow for three minutes of quiet meditation with everyone in the office at the same time could do wonders. Three minutes in the morning could turn to a few more minutes at lunch time, or at 4:57 every day. Getting past the initial resistance and bias against meditation as a thing your hippie uncle did can be difficult, depending on the background and makeup of your workers, but good employees will listen if you lay out the facts and explain the many benefits of a shift to mindfulness. Try it.