Mindfulness at Work: The Benefits Add Up

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Mindfulness at Work: The Benefits Add Up

Mindfulness meditation is a personal practice. But when mindfulness and meditation are supported as organizational initiatives, the benefits can cumulate from the personal to the interpersonal to the organizational level. And when mindfulness reaches the top of the organization, the impact can be extremely meaningful.


The personal benefits from a mindfulness meditation practice have been well documented - from reduced stress to improved focus, attention, clarity and memory. It is easy to connect the dots from an employee who experiences these benefits to one who is more creative, productively engaged, and happier at work.


Mindfulness also generates emotional benefits such as improved empathy, compassion and a sense of social connectedness. Team members working from a strong emotional foundation are more likely to listen deeply, collaborate and resolve conflict. Scandinavia's largest insurance company 'IF' found that 76% of employees reported a 'sharp rise' in cooperation within teams after participating in a mindfulness program.1


Mindfulness programs within organizations have reported impressive results in many spheres, ranging from productivity to innovation. An objective review of a mindfulness program at biotechnology company Genentech found a 10-20% increase in employee satisfaction; a 12% increase in customer satisfaction; and a 50% improvement in employee communication, collaboration, conflict management and coaching.2
Productivity improvements were taken to new heights at Intel. Engineers who applied mindful practices to a complex technical challenge reported extraordinary results: "It was an engineering problem that would have taken us weeks or months, but by focusing on it and taking the mindful practices we learned in the class — we developed a solution over the course of two 2-hour blocks of time."3


Dozens of CEOs and other leaders have adopted mindfulness practices either on their own or as part of a corporate initiative. Among senior executives at General Mills who have taken their mindfulness course, 80% say they make better decisions and 89% say they've become better listeners.4
To some CEOs, mindfulness has become a critical component of how they work and who they are as people. Bill Ford, the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, took time to meditate when Ford was on the brink of bankruptcy. "The practice of mindfulness kept me going during the darkest days," he said. He also took time each morning to set an intention to deal with whatever arose that day with compassion and kindness.5
Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, says compassion has become a centerpiece of his management style. He says it helps him slow down and really listen. This leads to a better understanding where others are coming from, the struggles they're facing, and the baggage they're carrying.5

Bottom line? The case for mindfulness at work comes down to a pretty simple principle: If you're fully present, you'll do a better job, and be happier in the process. You'll interact in a more authentic and compassionate way with others. Employees, leaders and the workplace will be enriched as a result.


  1. Reb, J. (2012) "A Mindfulness Training Program at IF Insurance," Singapore Management University Case Collection
  2. Accessed online from: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1045&context=cases_coll_all
  3. LaBarre, P. (2011) "Developing Mindful Leaders," Harvard Business Review, HBR Blog Network
  4. Accessed online from: http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/12/developing-mindful-leaders/
  5. (2013) "Better Engineering through Meditation?" Intel Free Press
  6. Accessed online from: http://www.intelfreepress.com/news/better-engineering-through-meditation-mindfulness/7021
  7. Gelles, D. (2012) "The Mind Business," Financial Times
  8. Accessed online from: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/d9cb7940-ebea-11e1-985a-00144feab49a.html#axzz24m8gNFbb
  9. Schwartz, T. (2013) "How to be Mindful in an Unmanageable World," Harvard Business Review, HBR Blog Network
  10. Accessed online from: http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/02/how-to-be-mindful-in-an-unmana/