In the words of Clare Goodman, a good friend and colleague, most of us aren’t employed for our good looks. We’re employed for our minds. But how many of us consciously seek out ways to optimise our most important asset?
Seems pretty obvious when it’s put that way. And organisations around the world are increasingly recognising the value of this. If employees at all levels are highly capable of managing stress, if they benefit from above-average levels of clarity, focus and emotional resilience, if they are ultra-productive and innovative at the same time as being able to leave their egos at the door every morning, how much more effective will organisations be?
I have summarised some of the physical and psychological benefits of meditation to individuals in previous blogs. So, what happens when groups of people within an organisation start to meditate?
Improved attendance rates. According to one study at London Transport, absenteeism fell by 50% after a mindfulness program. More specifically, time taken off for stress and other psychological reasons fell by 70% for the three years following the course. What’s more, participants reported greatly improved measurements of job satisfaction and relationships.
Enhanced performance and job satisfaction. People who meditate regularly have fewer negative thoughts about work, and are better at letting go of them when they do. They have a more stable sense of self-esteem less dependent on external factors. According to one study at General Mills, 83% of participants were taking time to optimise personal productivity each day, compared to just 23% before the mindfulness intervention.
Increased staff retention. Happy workplaces and improved job satisfaction leads to fewer resignations. No surprise there!
Enhanced personal relations. Regular meditators enjoy improved empathy. They are less invested in particular perspectives making them better communicators, and less likely to think negatively about colleagues with whom they disagree on some issues. Mindfulness programs can take the heat out of difficult relationships as people ‘get over themselves’ and work together.
Better teamwork. With stronger self awareness and empathy, dissonance in teams is reduced. Clare Goodman and I have a saying: ‘A team that sits together, knits together.’
Greater innovation. Why do Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Google, Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook all support more mindful workplaces? Because they live or die on new product development and they know their staff are more likely to come up with great ideas when they are feeling stress-free, playful and pumping out gamma-waves … the kind the brain produces when meditating, and which leads to ‘aha’ moments.
Better leadership. Resonant leaders are not victims of stress. Rather, they are tuned into their teams, aware of group dynamics in meetings, and are able to respond openly and authentically. Many key qualities of effective leadership are directly supported through mindfulness practice.
Greater sense of meaning and purpose. We work for more than only money. When we have an ongoing sense of broader service in what we do, we are more willing to go the extra mile.
The advantage to organisations of employees who are outward-focused, resonate positively with colleagues and want to deliver value is obvious. And the opportunities for organisations to impact society in extraordinary and profound ways, well beyond the commercial, are only now beginning to be realised. For much more on the business case for meditation, check out my book, Why Mindfulness is Better than Chocolate.
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Have a look at the Free Stuff section of my website. Here you will find lots of downloads including guided meditations, plus audio files of yours truly reading the first chapter of several books.
Join us on Mindful Safari in Zimbabwe, where I was born and grew up. On Mindful Safari we combine game drives and magical encounters with lion, elephant, giraffe, and other iconic wildlife, with inner journeys exploring the nature of our own mind. Find out more by clicking here.