As the wellness and well-being conversation continues to evolve from physical fitness to financial and mental health, more employers and vendors are looking at offering mindfulness training as part of the package deal.
Just last week, Humana became the most recent provider to add eMindful’s live, online mindfulness training programs to its resource of wellness options available to employers. Mindfulness practice focuses on elevating awareness of a person’s thoughts, emotions and physical state to change unhealthy habitual patterns. Experts point to the practice as helping to combat employee stress.
According to research from consulting firm Aon Hewitt, which surveyed more than 2,800 employees and their dependents, almost half of respondents said their stress level was high or overwhelming. When asked the reasons for their stress, the top four out of five reasons cited were work-related.
See also: Stress taking its toll in the workplace
And these stresses are costing employers billions in increased absenteeism and lost productivity.
But more research from eMindful shows numerous boons to employers who have included mindfulness programs to employees, including:
· 20% improved sleep quality.
· 29% reduction in stress.
· 55% reduced metabolic syndrome.
· 47 minutes gained per week in productive time.
“Obviously, there is some science behind mindfulness — it helps enhance cognitive flexibility and can really transcend and apply in multiple ways,” says Kristine Mullen, vice president of Humana’s wellness strategies and solutions team. “It helps with job satisfaction, it reduces sick days and unscheduled time off. If you think about it holistically, people who engage in the program have connectivity, wellness and engagement in a social environment.”
But merely having the programs in place doesn’t mean employees will flock to the programs.
“Mindfulness must be interwoven among all our wellness offerings to include not only physical health but also emotional, financial and social well-being,” Mullen says.
Kevin Renner, senior vice president of marketing and product management at eMindful, notes a number of engagement tools are available to employers. In addition, he says, it’s vital that top leadership support and embrace the programs so that enthusiasm becomes contagious for all employees.
According to data from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health, this year 22% of employers will offer mindfulness training, noting those numbers can be expected to double by 2017.
Renner predicts in five years’ time, mind fitness will be virtually as common as physical fitness, as part of an overall, holistic approach to health and well-being.
The number of mindfulness apps, online recordings and live trainings out there is burgeoning, he says.
“The entire category is growing like wildfire," he added.