Why Aetna, Google and other corporations are investing in mindfulness

The idea of taking time out of our busy days to sit in stillness and do nothing but think may seem to contradict the ideals of speed and productivity that characterize traditional corporate culture. However, those attuned to the importance of mindfulness know the positive impact the practices of reflection, openness and thoughtfulness have on productivity, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Research shows that investing in mindfulness practices for employees can have a significant positive effect on morale, efficiency and the bottom line. Practicing mindfulness is a tactful leadership strategy, as it helps people direct their attention to current task, unlike multitasking, which dilutes the quality of work and judgement. Mindful decision-making means taking the time to consider all alternatives and ultimately landing on the most informed choice, according to the report.

Managers who model and encourage their employees to practice mindfulness can help create more positivity and engagement in their cultures. The following highly-esteemed corporations' leaders have done so, according to the report.

Aetna. In collaboration with Duke University, eMindful and the American Viniyoga Institute, Aetna developed and introduced two mindfulness programs in 2010 called Viniyoga Stress Reduction and Mindfulness at Work. The main objectives of both projects were to help employees reduce stress and cultivate practices to better manage stress. The two initiatives yielded such positive results that the health insurance company's leadership decided to offer its mindfulness programs to customers. Studies showed the programs have been significantly effective for improving participants' stress levels, too.

Google. In addition to the numerous benefits and perks it provides employees, Google also offers more than a dozen mindfulness courses. Google is a great advocate of practicing mindfulness because its leadership believes it cultivates emotional intelligence, which ultimately helps people better understand their colleagues motivations and facilitates collaboration. These programs, including the "Search Inside Yourself" course, offered since 2007, is intended to help participants combat stress, steady emotions, increase patience and enhance listening skills.

Intel. Since launching its Awake@Intel mindfulness program in 2012, participants say they feel significantly less stressed and more engaged at work. On a scale of one to 10, participants report an average of a two-point decrease "in stress and feeling overwhelmed, a three-point increase in overall happiness and well-being, and a two-point increase in new ideas, insights, mental clarity, creativity, ability to focus, quality of relationships at work and level of engagement in meetings, projects, and team efforts — all articulated goals of the program," according to the report.

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