February 1, 2012
Work can be a stressful place, and with companies trying to keep an eye on the bottom line while simultaneously improving productivity, many workers may find themselves with more responsibilities than ever before. While there is no way to totally eliminate stress from the workplace, some companies are doing what they can to help employees relax, and many, like those that we feature here, are doing that through on-site meditation.
Meditation has been shown to produce a wide range of mental benefits when practiced on a daily basis. Studies have shown that it can actually change how the brain processes information and manages the effects of stress, depression, and anxiety. Those who practice meditation, research has demonstrated, are happier and calmer than their counterparts who don’t, so it’s no surprise that many high-stress businesses are catching on and making meditation a part of their corporate mission. Read on to learn about some of the companies that are leading the way in promoting on-the-job meditation.
It should come as no surprise to those who know a bit about the life of Steve Jobs that meditation has long been promoted at Apple. Jobs often took part in meditation retreats, was married in a Zen ceremony, and maintained lifelong friendships with many monks. Some speculate that the mental control he gained from meditation was what helped him become so successful in creating new, innovative products for Apple. Whatever it was, Jobs wanted to pass on his love of meditation to others in the workplace, allowing employees of the tech giant to take 30 minutes each day to meditate at work, providing classes on meditation and yoga on-site, and offering the use of a meditation room.
The publishing world can be a tough place to make a living, but this publishing company is trying to give workers a chance to shake off their stress and refocus while at work through meditation. Prentice Hall has created a meditation space in their corporate headquarters, which they call the “Quiet Room.” Employees can take a break and slip into the space for meditation, prayer, or just a moment of quiet reflection when they’re feeling particularly stressed out.
Even when you’re working at a company that offers unbelievable benefits like Google, things can get a bit stressful on the job. One of Google’s original software engineers and now head of personal growth (how cool is that job?), Chade-Meng Tan, has been working hard to bring meditation into the workplace. Tan spearheaded a program at Google in 2007 called “Search Inside Yourself” which helped more than 500 employees learn how to breathe mindfully, listen to their coworkers, and even improve their emotional intelligence. On a regular basis, the company also offers meditation space and meditation courses, believing that meditation can help improve not only employee mental health and well-being but the company’s bottom line as well.
Nike’s motto “just do it” applies to meditation as well, it seems. The company is one of many big businesses incorporating meditation practice into their workplace. Employees of the athletic apparel giant have access to relaxation rooms, which they can use to take a nap, pray, or of course meditate. In addition to these quiet rooms, employees can also take part in meditation and yoga classes without ever having to leave the office.
In 2000, AOL Time Warner reduced its sales and marketing staff from 850 to just 500 people, leaving employees to shoulder a lot more work with a lot less help. In order to help employees deal with the stress of their new longer and busier days, the corporation added meditation classes into the work day. Workers could slip away from what, at the time, were 12 hour days into a class or a quiet room to help refocus, relax, and refresh themselves before getting back to their long days.
Management and consulting firm McKinsey & Co. founded in Illinoismight be a strange place to find meditation happening, but the company is embracing meditation as part of a new HR strategy aimed at keeping employees happy and healthy. McKinsey partner and meditation aficionado Michael Rennie says, “What’s good for the spirit is good for the bottom line,” and the company is taking that to heart, developing meditation and self-analysis programs not only for their own employees but for other multi-million dollar corporations as well. In one case, a meditation program developed by McKinsey for an Australian client saved the business more than $20 million.
Yahoo! is another tech company that is doing what it can to reduce employee stress while at work. Employees of Yahoo! can take advantage of meditation rooms or engage with others who share their interests in a more mindful work day by taking free classes offered on-site.
A global banking and financial services company, Deutsche Bank has undoubtedly had a few rough years due to the global economic crisis, but employees may be getting a bit of stress relief just by walking through the doors of their workplace. Deutsche Bank is yet another multinational business getting behind the meditation-in-the-workplace trend. Despite the fact that the company may seem too traditional to embrace such a progressive policy, they’ve been offering meditation classes and quiet spaces on site for several years, hoping that it will help to reduce worker stress and lead to more level-headed thinking.
P&G’s CEO A.G. Lafley is dedicated to his own meditation practice and thinks it has a lot to offer employees as well. He has said, “You can not out-work a problem, you have to out-meditation it.” The company offers a wealth of health and fitness programs that include meditation classes and spaces in their major corporate buildings.
While the programs HBO produces might turn viewers into couch potatoes, it doesn’t promote the same attitude in its employees. Instead, it offers a wealth of resources to help them stay healthy both mentally and physically, with gyms, free yoga classes, and meditation classes offered in the workplace. Perhaps the promotion of forms of mindful exercise and meditation helped inspire their new hit show Enlightened.