Mindfulness programs, once a fringe movement, are increasingly becoming an important part of workplace culture. Companies, both large and small, are implementing mindfulness programs and discovering the advantages that these programs hold.
Before we talk about the advantages of a mindfulness program, let’s talk briefly about what is required to implement a successful one. First, be clear with your employees. Explain what your goals are, and show them the research explaining how these goals can be accomplished. Get a few champions onboard: passionate employees, including members of management, who can encourage others to give the program a chance. And during the course of your pilot mindfulness program, measure outcomes so that you can see whether it is working, and how well.
What kind of outcomes have other companies seen?
Lower healthcare costs
Following a 12 month period in which employees participated in either yoga or a program called Mindfulness at Work, the healthcare conglomerate Aetna saw the cost of healthcare for employees reduced by $2000. As the result of mindfulness programs across the country, employees have seen enhanced flexibility (from programs that include yoga), reduced stress, and fewer workplace accidents as a result of increased alertness. Put together, this spells out cheaper health care and fewer sick days in companies that have adopted an effective mindfulness program.
Employees that engaged in a mindful program while working at Intel reported an 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,” in a survey conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. If you’re not one to trust self-reported studies, consider Aetna, where employees gained an average increased productivity of 62 minutes per week. Added up, that extra hour can save companies lots of money–in Aetna’s case, approximately $3,000 per employee every year.
In a time when employees are increasingly finding their jobs to be huge sources of stress in their lives, mindfulness programs, especially those that exist in workplaces with a culture defined by mindfulness, have been shown to increase employee happiness and job satisfaction. It doesn’t hurt that employees engaged in mindfulness programs often sleep better: in the Aetna study, the average sleep quality of participants increased 20% after 12 months of mindfulness.