Seductive employee perks like concierges, free food, and sleeping pods might enhance the workplace environment, but holistic business approaches are increasing in popularity as a way to cope with work-life demands.
Business owners and employees now understand that performance is affected by how they treat themselves as a whole—holistically—and fuel their mental, emotional, physical and nutritional needs.
A recent study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin found that meditation strengthens brain networks, and there is a strong connection between breath-centered practices and steadiness of mind.
Meditation works on the sympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of increased heart rate and breathing. Consistent practice of meditation helps practitioners to function from their parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of resting bodily functions and induces feelings of calm and control.
Diaphragmatic breathing learned through meditation helps to lower the heart rate, and this can translate to a calm presence during tense situations in the work environment with colleagues and clients.
As companies join in the mindfulness movement, employees continue to realize the benefits. A happy employee is a more productive and loyal employee, and this can result in a decrease of instances of illness and absenteeism. These attributes also help to positively shape a company, as the wellbeing of the parts tends to affect the whole, including the bottom line.
Ailbhe Keane of Dublin brand Izzy Wheels said that holistic practices applied to business can lead to a financial gain in the long run. Her company makes vibrantly designed wheel covers for wheelchairs and is run by her and her sister Izzy.
Vision boards, mood boards, and mind mapping are practices that Keane has used since her days as a visual communications student at the National College of Art and Design. She said that these planning and goal setting techniques help to generate and organize her ideas and have led to positive end results. Many of Keane’s goals have made their way from idea to reality; a major goal was achieved in March when the company was featured in British Vogue.
“That was a huge milestone,” Keane said.
Mind mapping has meditative qualities. The technique allows you to quiet, focus, and organize your thoughts whilst boosting focus and awareness of them and ideas as they arise.
Meditation practitioners say that the relaxed state induced through meditation can lead to inspired ideas. This is the result of the conscious mind quieting down enough to allow ideas from the subconscious mind to rise. Similar to how people can suddenly get a great idea while in the shower.
Mind mapping encourages mindful thinking and is a method that aids with focus by tapping into both the creative and logical sides of the brain.
Keane said she begins each week with a 20-minute mind mapping brainstorming session where the company sets its intention and plans for the week.
The concept of wellbeing is steadily growing throughout the country. Even GAA clubs now have health and wellbeing subgroups, and Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor famously used visualization, meditation and the law of attraction on his route to becoming one of the highest paid athletes in the world.
Along with athletics, corporate culture is increasingly welcoming techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, vision boards, and proper nutrition to not only improve workplace productivity but also to improve overall balance.
Over the past few years, companies have emerged that offer somewhat of a one-stop shop for wellbeing. These companies offer programs that deal with nutrition, exercise, and mental health.
In Dublin alone, there is a mindfulness academy, mindfulness center and several companies that offer mindfulness programs to businesses.
Zevo Health is an Irish based workplace wellness company that offers online and onsite training programs.
CEO and founder Richard Murphy said that over the past 5-6 years, he has seen increased interest in workplace wellness in Ireland, and recently the concept has begun to take off.
“People in Ireland are starting to value their health,” he said.
— Zevo Health (@Zevohealth) December 5, 2018
Murphy said his company aims to create a behavior of humility in the workplace where employees feel safe enough to be vulnerable and make mistakes.
In the past, employee incentives consisted of a gym and well stocked vending machine, but employers and employees are continually realizing that how one feels affects how one works, and there are things that can be done inside the workplace to improve overall happiness.
Mindfulness and wellbeing were once terms used to improve one’s personal quality of life, but these words have become corporate buzzwords with companies like Facebook, Apple, Nike and Google offering relaxation rooms where employees can pray or meditate in a quiet atmosphere.
Google has been offering their workers the popular “Search Inside Yourself” mindfulness course since 2007. The course works in three steps: attention training, self-knowledge and self-mastery, and creating useful mental habits.
The results have been very effective, even resulting in employees reportedly changing their minds about leaving Google after participation in the course.
Mindfulness is a means to well-being and can be described as an awareness and engagement with the present moment without judgment of it or your thoughts; much like a child at playfully immersed in an activity.
The opposite to this is mindlessness, which is akin to being on autopilot, and is how most people navigate throughout their day and life; mechanically completing tasks just to get them done and move on to the next one.
Murphy works with various types of businesses ranging from insurance to pharmaceutical companies. He said that there is a lot of competition for companies to recruit and retain employees and these companies see how prioritizing employee wellbeing positively influences these processes.
But he adds that it is not a quick process, as it could take up to three years to see the full effects of the program realized.
Just like consistent mediation breeds lasting results, the full expression of these processes can take time. This characteristic separates the wellbeing movement from other trends in that it is not a quick fix, but a lasting transformative process.
“Quick things don’t work,” Murphy said.