When it pays to encourage your employees to sit there and do nothing
Wednesday, 3 July 2019
When you're running a small business, employee productivity might make the difference between hitting your numbers and sinking into the red.
But it might surprise you to know that when you encourage your employees to meditate, even for just a few minutes a day, you could actually improve focus and sharpen decision-making skills, as well as other benefits.
According to eMindful, which provides evidence-based wellness programs for employers, the return of investment for every dollar spent on such a “mindfulness" program is a robust $8.70.
Natalie Bell, director of corporate programs for Unplug Meditation, a guided mediation studio in Los Angeles, says that even if it looks like employees aren't really “doing anything," they're actually recalibrating how they do things.
“We're learning to bring our attention back to the present moment—and also back to a point of focus," Bell says. "Meditation's doing a number of things that are really helpful for everyone."
Benefits of an employee meditation program
Bell adds that when employees practice meditation, morale and teamwork improve. It can also improve relationships at home—which can mean less preoccupation with personal problems.
It's long been known that meditation has plenty of health benefits, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, regularly practicing meditation may improve symptoms of asthma, cancer, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep problems.
“We actually see gray matter changes in the brain after six to eight weeks," Bell says. “Studies show a greater gray matter in the hippocampus of the brain is related to self awareness, to learning and memory." There's increased activation in the prefrontal cortex, which is the "executive center" of the brain that's consciously acting to make decisions.
The reason why that's important, Bell says, is that the executive center of the brain can actually quiet the amygdala—which is the "fight or flight" stress center in the brain that gets activated with chronic stress.
How to set up a meditation program
Organizing a meditation initiative doesn't have be complicated or expensive. Bell recommends having at least a one-hour orientation with an introduction to different kinds of mediation practice. And it doesn't have to be a long block of time—people can meditate in as little as just one minute.
Bell also says designating a regular time and place for mediation is conducive to greater employee engagement, and helps create a company culture that emphasizes self-care.
You can hire a company like Unplug or eMindful, but there are also resources online. These include:
“Ultimately, what we're teaching here is a form of self-regulation," says Bell. The return on investment, she says, is significant—and can be a really high-value proposition for a small business.
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