Mindfulness and meditation are making waves in the corporate world, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Many employees feel overwhelmed by the pressures of our constantly connected, always-on society. Then, that pressure translates into stress while at work.
Thankfully, more businesses are recognizing the benefits of giving their employees’ minds a well-deserved break to practice mindfulness and meditation. One person dedicated to providing that break is Zev Suissa.
Zev is the Chief Innovation Officer of Strategic Partnerships for eMindful, an online platform designed to boost productivity and reduce stress through proven, accessible corporate wellness and mindfulness programs.
Before joining eMindful, Zev led innovative strategies for big brands like Nike, American Airlines, and Paramount. Now, he’s dedicated to bringing mindfulness and meditation to the corporate world by using practical strategies.
Zev’s also on a mission that goes farther than his job. He’s out to prove that prioritizing the mental wellbeing of employees isn’t just great for team member morale—but for the bottom line too.
So, how can a corporate mindfulness program boost productivity, reduce stress, and save money? And how can your own company integrate these human-focused initiatives into your workplace culture?
Mindfulness at Work
It isn’t always easy to sell a C-level executive on the merits of a company-wide meditation program. Even if they are personally open to mindfulness, launching it as a workplace initiative can sound unnecessary.
Zev understands this challenge more than most. It was especially grueling when he started at eMindful six years ago. “There was a steep education curve that had to be overcome when it came to mindfulness and meditation,” he remembers.
First off, Zev found himself always explaining that their Westernized version of meditation had nothing to do with religion or robe-clad monks chanting on a mountainside. Once that was cleared up, he faced the next obstacle—explaining why meditation was so beneficial for business.
Thankfully, with meditation quickly becoming more mainstream, the need to explain the secular modernization of mindfulness has diminished. “It’s now on the cover of Time Magazine!” Zev says. “There’s a Netflix series about it. There are all of these mainstream references about the practice. I have definitely seen an evolution. It’s really exciting to finally see it gel.”
However, explaining why it’s worth the investment can still be tricky. As a B2B company aiming to integrate with corporate healthcare, eMindful must prove why mindfulness works in the office through legitimate data and research.
“We have to make it evidence-based,” says Zev. “So, we’re using things like the Perceived Stress Scale, the Work Limitations Questionnaire, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and a host of other validated tools.”
So far, the numbers have shown significant success. “On average, we’re reducing stress by about 30%, and we’re able to reduce stress in roughly 74% of the participants,” he says. “Because we’ve been doing this for about twelve years, we’ve also measured a correlation between how much more productive you are when you reduce your stress.”
Specifically, eMindful has found that reducing stress increases productivity by about 20%—and when you think about it, it makes sense.
“When you’re stressed, you’re not that productive,” Zev says. “We found that for every point on the Perceived Stress Scale that we’ve reduced for people, they gain seven minutes of focused performance.”
Those numbers are pretty phenomenal. In total, that translates to about 49 extra minutes per week or 42 hours per year. “So basically, the people who take our programs can gain an entire workweek in productivity,” says Zev.
Now, these surprising numbers might pique your interest. But, if you’re like I was before I started meditating, you might be wondering how a mindful meditation practice can actually help employees focus and become more productive.
Dial In Your Focus and Productivity
Ok. Think of your brain as an old-style radio. Into that radio go thousands of stations all trying to play at the same time. “Imagine trying to listen to all of that at once,” says Zev. “It’d be complete noise!” It’d also be overwhelming, if not impossible, to focus on any one song intensely.
“But, with that dial, you can tune into that one station so you can listen to the exact song that you want to hear,” continues Zev. “Mindfulness is very much like that. It’s a high definition tuner for your mind. All of this beautiful input and information comes at us—and it all might be great! However, you can only really listen to one station at a time.”
With regular meditation practice, you’re building up a mental tool that helps you to navigate through and recognize all of the things swirling around in your mind. Then, you can intentionally choose the correct tune for the task while pushing away any intrusive thoughts.
Truthfully, it does take time to get to this point. It is called a practice for a reason, and the major benefits often come well after you integrate meditation into your routine. “That’s when you start to see how it helps you to react better and make more purposeful, intentional choices while in the moment,” he says.
By making better choices, you’ll experience benefits within your personal and professional relationships as well. Employees also note higher sleep quality, less chronic pain, and lower levels of workplace stress.
Say, for example, that you’re prepping for a huge presentation. Feeling stressed out is completely natural. But with a regular meditation practice, you’ll learn how to stop stress from consuming you. “Just label it, sit with it, experience it, and let it go,” says Zev. “It’s possible to experience stress in a nonjudgmental way.”
The perks of mindfulness go beyond the individual employee as well. “Look at the company activism that’s happening in healthcare,” says Zev. “That’s what’s going to drive some of this, and the data is helping. Companies are tired of having their healthcare costs go up 8% to 9% every year. That’s a trend that’s been going on for a while.”
In short, as corporate healthcare costs continue to rise, business owners will become increasingly eager to implement more preventive health practices. Though there are many ways to integrate these practices, meditation is proving to be an increasingly popular and effective option.
“The ROI of Wellbeing has either been scoffed at or been very fuzzy,” says Zev. “So, we’ve tried to make it scientific, calculation-oriented, and transparent. That’s how we’re doing it.”
Starting a Mindful Meditation Program at Work
Ready for your organization to integrate meditation and mindfulness into your work culture? It’s simpler than you’d think—and as fantastic as eMindful’s program is, there are countless ways to get started.
At my company, imageOne, we start our all-company meetings with a minute of silence to mentally come to the present moment. It’s been an excellent way to leave everything else behind and stay focused on our short time together.
Team members also take an internal 2-hour workplace wellness class called the Simple Six. In addition to discussing advice on living a healthy work-life balance, making strong human connections, staying active, and more, we have everyone practice some meditation. It’s an easy way to introduce the benefits behind the practice and nurture a mindful organization.
And these days, we’re far from the only company fostering a mindful culture. I feel like I’m always hearing about businesses integrating mindfulness programs into their mission. From Salesforce, Google, and Apple building meditation rooms into their headquarters to Aetna, Nike, and Humana signing up for eMindful, meditation is finally making its mindful mark in business.
Think you’re ready to see firsthand why global leaders are embracing mindfulness? Then it’s time for you and your team to start unplugging and look within.
Listen to my entire conversation with Zev Suissa on the donothing podcast. You’ll learn more about the positive financial impact of mindfulness and meditation, how he became involved with eMindful and its mission, and so much more.
I’d love to connect with you on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as have you keep up with my company imageOne. Learn about my mission to show business leaders how mindfulness can transform you and your business in my book donothing. Visit www.donothingbook.com for more information.