Meditation has long been touted as a benefit to its practitioners. Almost like a reset button, you allow yourself to refocus and channel your energy into more productive things, or calm yourself when tasks pile up.
One type of meditation is mindfulness meditation, which instead of focusing on change or adjustment, focuses on moment-to-moment awareness. During this meditation, the person acknowledges and accepts their present reality, both good and bad, and grounds the practitioner in the present.
Mindfulness Meditation is a useful tool for those dealing with mental illness or other personal issues, but a helpful application for it has been found in workplace situations. Companies like Apple, Google, and Nike all provide meditation services and workshops for their employees. While more and more companies are seeing the benefits of meditation, studies have emerged questioning the usefulness of mindfulness in the workplace.
For The Human, The Benefits Of Mindfulness
Companies have found that meditation and mindfulness can help boost productivity. Rob Symes, CEO of The Outside View, says mindfulness exercises help his employees keep focused and rested, citing that a healthy body and mind are essential to good business practice.
The effect seems to register with other companies as well, who also report that meditation programs and free gym memberships helped bolster productivity and turned a more significant profit for their companies.
While studies conducted on mindfulness at the workplace are still few, results have been promising. A study done on employees on sick leave who were put into a mindfulness program reported improvement of stress-related problems and returned to work more readily than those receiving conventional therapy sessions alone.
Another study on mid-level managers introduced to mindfulness “demonstrated strong and sustainable intervention effects on work-related stress, job satisfaction, psychological distress, and employer-rated job performance.”
For Humanity, The Dark Side Of Mindfulness
While the statistics are impressive, others have stressed their concern over mindfulness in the workplace. Critics have pointed out a possible loss of motivation due to mindfulness, as the technique focuses on living in the moment and contentment with present conditions.
An opinion piece in the Guardian posits that mindfulness may make workers feel less obliged to question unfair working conditions or withheld benefits even considering productivity gains from mindfulness itself.
Another opinion piece from the New York Times focused on the loss of corporate drive. A study conducted on employees practicing mindfulness found that the quality of their work did not improve. They concluded that external motivation was not enough to get better results and that employees must experience some level of internal motivation to grow and move up in a workplace environment truly.
A concern among mindfulness proponents is company management using meditation as a Band-Aid fix. Instead of fighting the symptoms of stress in the workplace, whether by reducing workloads or providing concrete benefits, a company may employ mindfulness and meditation to make its employees more productive in the short-term, while ignoring the actual causes of stress that they put into practice.
Meditations On The Workplace
Despite misgivings, mindfulness meditation is finding its way into more and more workplaces. Meditation can bring about real productivity and profit gains to companies that make use of it. Hence, there is a responsibility shared by every company to use mindfulness not as a cure-all, but as an additional part of their employee’s lives.
Mindfulness meditation is an age-old practice, one that has found great success in many parts of the world. As it makes its way through the corporate world, we must take care to understand not just what benefits it can bring, but why using it can deliver better mental health to our employees.