Employees are the greatest asset of any organization; they are like the bricks of a large building. Weaker blocks can make the whole structure tumble down. So, the wellness of employees is paramount in forging a strong and successful organization. Because a healthy workforce exhibits sustained performance, thus making the organization consistent.
The employee wellness industry is today a $40 billion industry. And many of the top companies have developed unique employee wellness programs to keep their workforce healthy and productive.
For example, Microsoft has the “Real Easy Wellness” program at Microsoft that helps employees identify healthy food options quickly. Similarly, the “nap rooms” at Asana pays employees for sleeping and de-stressing and much more.
But the question that concerns the small-scale startups and emerging companies is the cost of the wellness program and how much they can afford to spend on them. It is here that we bring a cost-effective and proven technique that increases productivity.
We are talking about some exclusive meditation techniques which fit the workplace environment. It plays a tremendous role in ensuring the overall wellness of your employees. The specialty of these techniques is that they bring immediate benefit to the employee by transforming their mindset and behavior towards higher productivity.
Before going into the meditation techniques, let’s fathom the relation between stress and productivity.
The Relation Between Stress and Productivity
Productivity is something that bothers every employer. It is the measure of employee efficiency measured as a factor of time. We may define it as the output of an employee divided by the total time spent.
However, depending on the nature of tasks, the definition may vary. For example, consider products requiring the involvement of many employees. Then it is difficult to ascertain the individual efforts separately. We cannot distinguish those who are aiding the work and those who are hindering the work. Further, there are many other difficulties in measuring productivity.
Now, what makes employees productive? If we examine carefully, it is the quality time they spend at work that makes them productive. By quality time, we mean that part of the time when they were focussed on the job at hand. So, in another way, focus or single-mindedness on the work at hand is what makes employees productive. However, it is one thing to talk about focus and another thing to have it.
If you study the instances that distract you, you may learn a lot about focus. Sudden noise is a distraction, so is the common cold or illness, a bad meeting, a criticism, an argument, and the list can go on and on. The common trait that runs through all the above-listed reasons is that all of these instances make you uneasy. The word ‘disease – ‘dis’ ‘ease’ indicates this fact. So we can say that you tend to focus when you are at ease, and you tend to lose it when you are not at ease or when you are stressed.
What Factors Cause Stress for Employees?
Work-pressure is a collective term we use for stress at work. But the anxiety or unease you feel at work is usually a spillover of the other tensions you are carrying in your life. It is because though officially work is separate from life, in the mental world, it is a continuum. The mind that interacts with both life and work is the same. And hence the problem and anxieties of life are carried on to work and vice-versa.
Work stress takes a toll on your health thus aggravating the condition. A study by PwC International Limited revealed the following stress factors that affect employees at work:
i) Financial Strain
The prime factor that triggers all other problems is to worry about financial insecurity. 46% of the employees say it is financial challenges that make them anxious. Concerns about bills, not having enough savings for emergencies, and mindless spending through credit cards add to the financial stress.
In personal life, the issues in communicating, lack of time to spend with each other, mood swings, etc. are common. The spillover effect of the financial stress, which leaves employees less attentive to their spouses, children, and responsibilities, further adds to the burden and forms a vicious cycle.
iii) Job -Related Stress
Employees who are doing the work they don’t love is the next on the list. Along with those who have trouble at the workplace, with colleagues, environment, project, salary, and so on.
5 Meditation Techniques for The Workplace
Meditation is the general term that is today used for various techniques that relax the mind. However, it originates from the Indian word ‘dhyana,’ and dhyana means the state of no-mind. So meditation is a state of mind, and techniques are a way to attain that state.
Meditation has a strong relation with productivity as it helps in bringing the focus from the future and past into the present moment. A person who lives in the present moment naturally has more energy mentally and physically to perform the task at hand. Because the power which gets diverted in worrying about yesterday’s and tomorrow’s problems is now free and available.
The meditation techniques discussed here involve a mix of individual and group activities. You can make the most of these methods if integrated into the employee wellness program. Let’s begin each technique in detail now:
1) Active Meditation
The active meditations are the apt meditations for the workplace. Mainly because workplaces are closed spaces with the least mobility. One of the reasons white-collar professionals feel more stress compared to blue-collar workers is the mobility factor. If we look at children, who are the non-conditioned, relatively fresh human beings, we see that they are always throbbing with energy. And that’s why it is hard to see a child sitting idle. And free children do not feel the stress like adults.
The researchers at Harvard have found that exercise reduces stress; now, if we analyze this fact backward, we can say that it is because children are more active physically that they are less anxious? It is this idea that gave rise to active meditations. It is more than just working out at the gym because, in the gym, your mental health is not significant, but active meditations are integrative. They bring together both the physical and the psychological aspects under one umbrella.
The best way to carry out active meditations at the workplace is in groups, especially as a part of the employee wellness program. Active meditations can be done without the help of regular trainers once employees perform it under supervision. For example, dynamic meditation, which is a meditation developed by Osho Rajneesh, is a very effective way to bring down stress levels and give employees a fresh breath of perspective.
Some other active meditation involves dance as a meditation in which the participants dance totally with their eyes closed, listening to the music playing, and the music slowly raises the pace of the dance, and it suddenly stops. When the music stops, the participants lie down silently on the floor, with eyes remaining closed. Then they wake up to melodious music dancing in harmony and happiness, which they carry throughout their day to work. Active meditations move the body physically and bring employees into a dynamism that makes them more productive and innovative in the long run.
2) Stop Meditations
Stop meditations are a class of Zen meditations where the meditator involves in physical activity and then stops suddenly. Like the active meditations, they need group involvement. But the advantage is that in stop meditations, the volunteers and participants can switch positions. It can also be in groups of two, so a fixed time is not needed. Whenever two or more employees feel stressed, they can use a space for performing stop meditations at the workplace.
Now, the stop meditation also opens up room for creativity, because here the focus is not on the activity but on stopping. The only requirement here is soft surfaces or beds as a precaution to not hurt during sudden stopping movements. Compared to costly wellness packages, it is cost-effective.
You can start a stop meditation by communicating the type of activity and the signal to indicate stop. For example, the group leader asks the team to jump higher. He will motivate them to jump higher and higher, and then suddenly, at the peak of activity, he says, “stop.”
On the hearing stop, the participants are to freeze literally. No further movement happens, and they have to lie just like a corpse or if standing stand or such positions as they are in at “stop” calling.
For the next 20 minutes, participants become only a witness, observing the movement of breath throughout their body. Then after 20 minutes, the participants can break the activity and get to work fully rejuvenated.
3) Clock Meditation
The clock meditation is one of the Gurdjieffian techniques and can be done alone. Gurdjieff was a proponent of the “self-remembering” approach. And clock meditation is a technique based on “self-remembering.” The employees can use it anytime and anywhere with a clock or watch in hand. Whenever an employee finds it difficult to focus on work or is feeling stressed emotionally, they can get amazing results from clock meditation.
If you are keen to introduce clock meditation in your workplace, the first thing is to hang a big clock (one with all the three hands- seconds, minutes, and hour) in a place that is visible to every employee. The employee who wants to take a break meditating needs to look at the clock and focus on the second’s needle. Every second, the second’s needle is moving, from one second to the other, the second’s hand is always in motion. And the employee has to use this second hand.
For the first 3 minutes, he or she needs to say silently, “I am here,” every time the second-hand ticks ahead. The only condition is that the eyes and mind should travel with the second hand. The moment a thought arises, or when employees find them behind the second hand, they need to say “Stop” in their head and start again. The clock meditation can be done for a maximum of 5 minutes on the first day. As the number of breaks decrease, the participant can increase the period to up to 40 minutes gradually.
A diary can be maintained to track self-progress by noting down the number of breaks. Once the recesses are rare, the participant can enter the advanced stage where even the silent words are forbidden, and just the feeling that “I am here “is felt. While opening an advanced stage, the practitioner has to, for the first 5 minutes, say in their head that “I am here.” In the next 5 minutes the “here” is dropped and then in the next 5 minutes “I” is lost and in the last 5 minutes “am” is dropped to enter the total feeling of one’s self.
4) Your Name Meditation
You might have heard people chanting “om” or other mantras while meditating. Your name meditation is a unique technique where your name becomes the mantra instead of syllables from an unknown language. The purpose of using the name of the participant is psychological. It is based on the fact that our names are ingrained very deeply into our subconscious. Even in profound sleep, if somebody calls your name, you are disturbed, sleep breaks, but any other name doesn’t have an effect on you. It is because of the way your name is deeply rooted in you.
In this meditation technique, the participant starts the first five minutes of his day with the calling of their name. Then a reminder is given at certain intervals during the day to converse with themselves. They have first to ask themselves, “Where are you, Eliza?” and they answer it honestly.
The reminders can be sent either through mail or with a volunteer from the team. The best thing would be to create a mobile app of your own that will track the login and working hours of the employee the whole day and schedule reminders. The technique has to be done whenever employees feel too stressed or feel out of focus.
The calling of one’s name creates an observer inside the participant who becomes a witness to their own activity, and this creates a higher degree of centeredness. The very basis of meditation is to become the witness of one’s movement and, in that process, relax. This technique will need a small investment in the form of a reminder to work it out. However, if trained with a volunteer, the habit of continually asking oneself can be developed in the participants, which will increase their awareness at work or life without external reminders.
5) Becoming Taste Meditation
The final technique that one can try out in the workplace or anywhere is becoming meditation. In this meditation technique, the participant has to become the taste he or she senses while eating. When the participant has food, they have to savor the taste of the food deeply.
Most often, people say they love food, but hardly anyone enjoys the taste of what they eat. The technique has a universal appeal because no man can live without food; the only difference is that instead of gorging on the food, they need to be more aware while eating.
The first step in this meditation should be to eat food slowly while eating the person has to eat totally, and no thoughts are to enter the mind. A volunteer or trainer is the best way to start who keeps on reminding them to eat with awareness, munching each feeling deeply and being one with it. Even while drinking water, the person needs to drink with awareness. They are to observe the coolness that water imparts to their body and rejoice in it.
The above meditations may look very easy, but in practice, the difficulties will reveal. It will be essential to remember that meditation is a journey inwards, and the techniques that look silly can have a profound impact on the meditator.
Just like atom bombs work on smaller particles of matter, the effect they create is terrific. Similarly, these techniques are the key to the inner explosion of intelligence and, thus, productivity.