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Mindfulness Training In The Workplace: How Do Companies Do It?

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Companies have been embracing mindfulness training in the workplace in recent years and with good reason. The article explores how some well-known companies have incorporated mindfulness training in the workplace and the positive impact it has had on their employees.

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Google

Google’s Search Inside Yourself Program, which began in 2007, is a mindfulness training program that has been very popular among employees. The program combines mindfulness and emotional intelligence concepts to teach practical methods to find happiness. 

“I’m not interested in bringing Buddhism to Google, I am interested in helping people at Google find the key to happiness.”  -Chade Meng-Tan, The Search Inside Yourself Program

The three key components of their program are:

  • Attention Training
  • Self-knowledge and Mastery
  • Creating useful mental habits
Google logo
General Mills logo

General Mills

The multinational consumer food company, well known for its brands like Häagen-Dazs and Pillsbury, launched a workplace mindfulness training program for its employees in 2006.

Janice Marturano was a senior leader in the law department, who went through a tough time when she lost her parents during a very stressful phase at work. This is when she attended a Jon Kabat-Zinn retreat in Arizona and decided to bring her learnings to the workplace.

The program at General Mills is voluntary including a 4-day retreat, a 2-day training, and a 2-hour meditation class for 7 weeks.

Weekly meditation sessions are also conducted. General Mills has consistently been one of the world’s top companies for leadership training, especially due to the Mindful Leadership Training.

Intel

In 2014, Intel launched the Awake@Intel program for thousands of employees worldwide.

This is a 9-week voluntary program launched by Lindsay Van Driel, which uses breathing and meditation techniques.

They found that most of the 1500 employees who attended all 19 sessions reported feeling better, happier, less stressed out, improved the quality of their relationships at work, and focused amongst many other things.

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dow chemicals logo

Dow Chemicals

Dow Chemicals participated in leading research to prove the efficacy of mindfulness training at the workplace in 2014. The intervention was an online mindfulness program. They concluded that it was practical and effective in decreasing employee stress and improving resiliency, vigor, and work engagement, thereby enhancing overall employee well-being.

‘Practicing Mindfulness for Positive Life Change’ is a learning, discovering, and behavior-changing program where employees can explore the nature of the mind, experience, and practice mindfulness exercises.

This is a voluntary program and the experience for the participants on their web pages would include:

Weekly emails
Short slide decks, start with the kick-off presentation
Workshops through WebEx or in-class discussions
Journaling
Audio clips (English only)

Aetna

Aetna launched a Mind-Body Stress Program back in 2012. This incorporated 2 interventions:

Mindfulness at Work
Viniyoga stress reduction

The ‘Mind-Body Stress Reduction in the Workplace’ was a clinical trial and the results were published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

The brainchild behind these programs was the CEO Mark Bertolini, who had a near-death encounter in an accident. This event led him to seek Eastern wisdom and gradually helped him recover. He then decided to share it with his more than 13,000 employees.

Aetna has a meditation room available and these classes are offered regularly. Aetna has seen a drop in its healthcare costs for employees after it launched some wellness programs along with these.

Aetna logo
Keurig Green Mountain logo

Keurig Green Mountain

This company first launched the mindfulness program for its top leadership and then took it to the mid-management.

One unique feature of their program is how mindful stretching was introduced in their warehouses. Many workers were extremely resistant to the practice initially but soon realized that this practice helped reduce workplace injury.

David Gelles, author of Mindful Work,  shared that mindful stretching ‘has made workers more attuned to their surroundings, more aware of their behavior and, therefore, more disciplined in their execution of tasks on the factory floor.’

These are just a few examples of how companies are incorporating mindfulness training in the workplace. The positive results that these companies have seen suggest that mindfulness training can be a valuable tool for improving employee well-being and productivity.

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