August 21, 2018

Yoga at the workplace: Impacts & Challenges

 

Workplaces are integral to the most of us – they have to be, considering we spend a major chunk of our animated hours at work. Never mind how much many of us claim to love the work, or how well adapted we are with our workplaces; physical inactivity, hormonal imbalances, stress, mental constriction, and anxiety, are very much an ineliminable part of our work lives.

Until the recent past, many of us were pretty used to taking workplace stress for granted, however, it now turns out that it is quickly translating into a major health epidemic, with staggering costs to both the employer and employee community. Emotional issues are also the foremost cause of health and wellbeing issues all over the global enterprise ecosystem. Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, and depression are just a few of these threats. The good news is that we have an antidote to bang away at workplace related mind-body issues in the form of Yoga and Meditation. These three-thousand-year-old practices are finding a way in contemporary workplaces to increase mindfulness and forestall individual and organizational wellness pitfalls.

High Stress at Workplaces and Low Productivity

A lot of research has emphasized the role of meditation at the workplace. Sarah McKay, a Neuroscientist, and author of ‘Neuroscience of Meditation’ has provided deep insight into the introduction of meditational activities, including yoga at the workplace. The undisputed fact being, yoga can improve the health and well-being of workforces, and in turn increase organizational effectiveness, productivity, and bottom-line.

This productivity hack, as some call it, caters to holistic employee wellbeing and helps with rapid stress reduction and management. Some of the most powerful companies in the world such as Apple, Google, Nike, Intel, McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs, P&G, and Twitter, among many others, have become front-runners to introduce holistic corporate wellness programs that include expert-led workplace yoga, meditation and mindfulness sessions to boost the morale of employees.

Proctor & Gamble’s CEO A.G. Lafley has often said: “You cannot out-work a problem, you have to out-meditation it”.

Meditation pacifies the mind and gets rid of stress making sure that body and mind remain in the state of peace for an active lifestyle. These activities take care of mental health as well as ensure the physical fitness quotient of employees at large.

Implementing a Workforce Yoga Program

A sustainable program helps improve the overall well-being quotient of the organization, increases the productivity of employees, and over a period of time helps restrict the cost of employer-provided healthcare. Such programs improve multiple dimensions in an organization which included reducing absenteeism, increasing productivity, decreasing healthcare costs, etc.

The secret sauce to establishing a sustainable program for proper stress management is to obtain health and wellbeing related data about the workforce. Evaluate individual and group interests, and conduct comprehensive wellbeing risk assessments across all relevant wellness dimensions to come up with an effective program. Once the initial criteria are fulfilled, proper approval and funding are sought by the management.

A company can immensely gain by drawing in a wellness committee to examine the program, and to continuously innovate and evaluate wellness-related activities. The major part of developing a sustainable program is to determine the components of the program. The disciplines of yoga, meditation, breath-work, and mindfulness are tailored to deliver proven, evidence-based programs that enhance concentration, reduce stress, and provide an immediate sense of optimized wellbeing within individuals and teams.

Overcoming Resistance

Most of us don’t take too kindly to change. More often than not, change creates chaos. It is important to evaluate the program design and delivery mechanism thoroughly, while keeping all stakeholders updated. Individuals and employers alike need to be schooled about the benefits of workplace yoga and allied programs before taking the plunge to implement. All stakeholders need to be informed about the current wellbeing status of groups, program expectations, and the result measurement methodology, that includes changes in the mental health quotient, as well as improvements in the physical, emotional, spiritual, occupational and intellectual health of team members.

Conducting Workplace Yoga Programs

Yoga and allied programs can be facilitated just about anywhere – empty lunchrooms, conference rooms and break-out areas, on the production floor, on terraces, or even outdoors. However, these programs and sessions need to be introduced via professional sessions as only certified and experienced experts can properly evangelize and transmit knowledge that brings about transformation in diverse groups. Such sessions offer professional know-how on approaching the wellness initiative and integrating it with the employee work-life. Professional expert-led sessions are efficiently goal oriented and need to be conducted as frequently as needed.

Return on Investment

Wellness programs such as introducing yoga at the workplace are crucial not just in driving employee engagement; they have a significant and measurable financial impact as well. Over the last few decades, hundreds of scientific evaluations have studied and reported the impact of organized workplace wellness programs. Here are some of the benefits of establishing wellness programs that not just work on optimizing individual wellbeing, but also improve productivity and save employers money.

  • Reduced injury, disability, absenteeism and presenteeism rates
  • Enhanced efficiency and productivity among employees
  • Improved stress management and quality of life
  • High touch employee engagement
  • Improved talent recruitment and retention
  • Improved work culture and employee happiness

One of the best results out of such a program is that the workplace becomes happier and lively. When the workforce is at peace and focused, this will reflect a spike in productivity. Such programs create a true sense of bonding between the workforce and the leadership, which in turn helps make the work culture open and thriving.

 

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