Employers with their eye on the bottom line only will instantly scoff at the idea of installing a meditation room for their staff. They are looking at the initial costs and not on the long-term positive effects of such “frivolity,” as they would probably consider it.
However, meditation in the workplace is not unheard of. Big organisations, such as Google and Apple, are adopting meditation practices to help employees relieve stress and boost productivity. It makes sense when you consider what is costing your business annually due to workplace stress. Encouraging employees to take “time out” for a few minutes during their working day will not only improve their mental health and well-being, but it could also impact on a company’s bottom line.
The Antidote to Stress
Stress is a major threat to the balance sheet. It endangers employee health, resulting in rising medical bills that are paid by employers. Stress causes sleep deprivation, which can impair an employee’s judgment, making him or her prone to commit costly mistakes. Stress impedes creative thinking that produces ideas that can make money for the company. If left unchecked, the office can fill up with burnt out people who are more focused on their worries and anxiety, instead of their work.
A growing body of research is supporting meditation’s role in rewiring how the brain responds to stress. One research showed that participants tend to react less to emotionally charged images after three and a half hours of meditation training.
Companies should invest in strategies that limit stress as lower stress translates to fewer employee absences, reduced healthcare costs and increased morale, inspiring employees to stick to their job.
A 2011 study conducted by Harvard University researchers found that after eight weeks of meditation training, participants showed increased control of alpha rhythms, a brain wave that blocks distractions. In an earlier study, it was found that meditating for as little as 20 minutes daily for four days resulted in an increased ability to sustain attention.
Training workers on mindfulness meditation or simple breathing techniques will teach them how to focus on the job at hand, concentrate better, and clear their minds of any distractions.
Decision making is a solely a rational process, or so we believed. However, the reality is that it is also a highly emotional one. One study found that seasoned practitioners have a better ability to separate emotions from their decisions when made to choose among different offers, compared with non-practitioners. This suggests that meditation can improve decision making by diminishing or eliminating emotional elements that may prevent clearer thinking.
Meditation trains the mind to be more focused, to think with clarity, to encourage creativity and to feel connected. It teaches compassion for yourself and for the people around you, including your colleagues and customers. These are the tangible benefits you can derive from meditation.