Mindfulness Training: Why Teaching Employees to Chill is the Hot Wellbeing Objective
February 28, 2017 / Employee Engagement / Emma Nguyen
This week, Virgin Pulse announces a preferred partnership with Whil Concepts, Inc. (“Whil”), which will bring an integrated, personalized, digital stress resiliency and mindfulness training program to our millions of members. With this exciting news, we’d like to refresh your understanding of mindfulness training and how it’s used in businesses around the world to improve employee and organizational health and drive big outcomes in engagement and productivity.
What’s the Science behind Mindfulness Training?
The first step in understanding how mindfulness training can impact business outcomes is to know the science behind it. When we practice mindfulness, we train our brain to stop wandering and repeatedly bring it back to a single focus point. Within a five-minute span, we may corral our thoughts as many as 20 or 30 times. When practiced consistently, scientific studies show that mindfulness actually physically changes our brain to stay more focused and handle stress better – much like improving our lungs and heart with cardio, we can improve our brain with mindfulness.
How Can Mindfulness Training Increase Engagement and Productivity?
We all know that work can be stressful. This stress can negatively impact employee engagement, retention, and productivity. In fact, our 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that 98% of companies believe that workplace and personal stress adversely affect employee engagement. Many of us have felt this impact in our own lives; when we feel overwhelmed or spread too thin, our energy levels decrease and our immune system becomes compromised. Stress can literally make us sick, and when we’re sick or overwhelmed we can’t properly engage.
Businesses that prioritize mindfulness training can mitigate these effects by helping their employees learn how to focus the mind and relax the central nervous system to better handle stress. A 2015 study reported that Aetna Insurance estimated that their mindfulness program had saved about $2,000 per employee in healthcare costs and gained about $3,000 per employee in productivity! Results like these are eye opening, and together with the vast amount of scientific data backing mindfulness training, and help to explain why more than half of Fortune 500 companies have implemented mindfulness and stress resiliency training into their employee wellness programs. According to the 2016 Global Wellbeing Survey from Buck Consultants, this trend will continue, as 36% of respondents plan on implementing stress management or resiliency building programs within the next 1-3 years.
Together with Whil, we’re ready to meet this demand; our platform integration will include comprehensive program reporting, targeted promotion based on health risks and interest, integrated activity rewards and more. We’re excited to help create better outcomes for both employees and businesses by fully integrating Whil’s science-based approach to stress resiliency as we support our members in their journey to better mental health and engagement.
Mindi Ennis is a product marketer who joined the Virgin Pulse team in 2016, continuing her 12+ year career in the HR space. Her time outside of work is typically spent searching for her next favorite IPA, kayaking with her husband or playing with her dog, Max.