Meditation in the Workplace: The Companies Embracing Corporate Wellbeing
For a long time, the tough and competitive world of business wasn’t a place you’d expect meditation to flourish. In an environment where results are key and time is of the essence, the idea of sitting down in the apparently unproductive activity of meditation (although, in reality, it is of course anything but!) could appear to be an alien one. However, as executives, CEOs and media moguls increasingly discuss the virtues of a meditation practice, scepticism is dissipating, and meditation is becoming a growing part of people’s working lives.
Many business leaders are now offering their employees the opportunity to practice Transcendental meditation (otherwise known as Vedic meditation) in the workplace, while others have wholeheartedly embraced mindfulness meditation in an effort to make their companies happier and healthier places to be.
Why are businesses interested in meditation?
There are various reasons for this phenomenon. Perhaps most importantly for the corporate world, there has been increasing scientific evidence for the benefits of meditation, as well as measurable improvements in absenteeism, staff turnover and performance for companies implementing corporate wellbeing programs.
Favourable numbers and proven facts are always going to have more of an impact in the minds of business people than anecdotal evidence, so the fact that the benefits of meditation are becoming ever more quantifiable is perhaps a major factor in its integration into the corporate world.
However, it isn’t only the bottom line which is influencing the wellbeing-based decisions of those within business. There has been increasing awareness both of mental health issues, and of employers corporate responsibility towards the society they operate in. With one in four people now experiencing mental health issues within their lifetime, this is something both business leaders and the people working for them are ever more conscious of.
Which companies have embraced meditation?
Google’s Chade-Meng Tan (who is one of the company’s earliest engineers) runs meditation classes to improve the health and happiness of Google’s employees. He is an avid meditator and claims it facilitates in him inner peace and happiness. His goal is to see every workplace in the world become ‘a drinking fountain for happiness and enlightenment’. Google also launched gPause, an internal online community where employees can share information on meditation books, resources and retreats.
Apple provide meditation rooms and classes for employees. The late Steve Jobs was a massive advocate for meditation and famously allowed workers half an hour each day to meditate as a result of its positive effects on his productivity and well-being.
Ken Powell, former CEO at General Mills, a US-based food company behind products including Cheerios, introduced internal meditation classes for all of its employees. In every building a meditation room can be found.
Yahoo offer employees free meditation classes for in their meditation rooms, in order to improve general well-being of staff and to reduce stress in the workplace. Yahoo were one of the early adopters of meditation for staff.
Procter and Gamble was also an early adopter of meditation, offering workers mediation spaces and a meditation instruction programme. This was thanks to former CEO, Alan Lafley, who stated you have to ‘out-meditation’ a problem.
Twitter co-founder Evan Williams created Medium and dedicated a room in the middle of the office to meditation and yoga. He brought in Will Kabat-Zinn to run several meditation classes each week.
Bridgewater Associates an investment firm run by founder Ray Dalio introduced a four month course in TM for employees who had been at the organisation for six months or longer. It was more popular than anticipated with many employees meditating twice a day at work. Dalio often attributes much of the success of the company to transcendental meditation.
Nike run meditation courses and workshops for employees, and in particular the innovation team who focus on leading the brand in new directions. These courses are one of the major benefits of working for the global brand. The company also offers relaxation rooms where employees are able to meditate and classes are run to improve the health of its staff.
Medtronic (a medical device company based in the US) also created a room dedicated to meditation. This was a vision of founder Earl Brakken and became a symbol of the company’s dedication to creativity.
TV Production company HBO run weekly meditation and yoga classes for employees to ensure they stay healthy both mentally and physically.
If the above wasn’t striking enough, The BBC, Channel 4, Sony, HSBC, Spotify, IBM, Uber, Toyota, Goldman Sachs and Universal have also embraced meditation within the workplace in an attempt to ensure workers are happy, healthy and well-balanced.
With so many companies embracing meditation, it may be that in the future a huge number of people are introduced to this amazing practice through their workplace – something which can only be a good thing both for the business world and beyond.