Meditating At Work: It’s Not Just For Hippies

May 20, 2016

5:00 pm

Traditional team building activities often make employees feel awkward and uncomfortable. They put people on the spot and create unsettling tensions between people who have never even spoken to each other. They’re awkward, they’re a waste of time and something about them just feels wrong. But some team building activities, like meditating, can make an impact on workplace culture. And while office meditation has been labeled “too Silicon Valley” or “hippy-dippy nonsense,” the benefits are more than apparent.

If you are looking for a way to revitalize your team while enjoying health benefits, meditating on a regular basis can do wonders. You’ll be able to bond with your team in a relaxing environment devoid of TPS reports and quarterly earning sheets.

The Value of Meditation

A University of Central Florida study found team building has a positive effect on goal setting, interpersonal relations, problem solving, and role clarification. However, while traditional team building activities don’t necessarily get employees jumping for joy, activities like meditation speak to a new generation of workers.

Meditation can help to increase awareness, decrease anxiety and lower stress levels. According to a study cited in the New York Times, after three days of meditation, there is more communication among areas of the brain related to focus and calm. Four months later, those who practiced meditation had lower levels of blood inflammation, even after stopping the practice.

Who’s Meditating?

According to Arianna Huffington, about a quarter of U.S. companies participate in meditation, including Nike, Target, Apple and, of course, the Huffington Post. At Google, more than 1,000 employees have gone through Search Inside Yourself, a program designed to help people manage their emotions and engage in mindfulness. Legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson uses mindfulness to build mental strength in his players. And at General Mills, employees have been practicing meditation at work for about a decade in the form of their Mindful Leadership program.

“83 percent of participants said they were taking time each day to optimize my personal productivity,” reported author David Gelles after exploring the culture of GE. “82 percent said they now make time to eliminate tasks with limited productivity value. And, among senior executives who partook in the course, 80 percent reported a positive change in their ability to make better decisions, while 89 program said they became better listeners.”

Implementation of Meditation

The key to getting your managers and employees on board with meditating is to explain the benefits. No one is going to blindly follow you down the meditation rabbit hole without a little information to back it up. Show them studies, give them examples and demonstrate the ease of such a simple practice. The more proof employees are given, the more likely they are to embrace it.

In order to make this a team effort, meditate together at the same time every day. This reduces the resistance barriers by cultivating a habit rather than creating an obstacle. Also, have people do the same type of meditation on a regular basis. According to a study by University of Oxford, synchronized activities make groups feel closer.

Evidence shows that meditation benefits employees on an individual level. But when done as a group, it creates bonds between employees, leading to better decisions making. Implementing a meditation practice company-wide can be a team building exercise that employees might actually enjoy doing. And it’s certainly a lot better than playing the human knot.

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John Turner is CEO and Founder of QuietKit, a platform that provides free guided meditation for beginners.

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