Posted Sep 16, 2022 7:00 AMUpdated on Sep 16, 2022 at 9:05 am
In the United States, no less than 60% of companies now offer free yoga or mindfulness meditation sessions to their employees, in the wake of Google and Ford, which were pioneers.
The stated objective is thus to improve the level of well-being of the teams. But the phenomenon would not have taken this magnitude, if it was only that. Organizations actually have a major interest in promoting these practices, an interest that goes well beyond the fight against stress and the prevention of psychosocial risks.
More empathetic, and therefore more cooperative
Our research* shows that mindfulness meditation helps to better manage stress but also increases the ability of employees to put themselves in the place of others, knowing that repeated and convergent studies** attest that this quality of empathy , much more than the level of intelligence, determines the professional performance of individuals.
Most employees must indeed cooperate with colleagues and those who are empathetic, able to put themselves in the shoes of others, to decenter themselves from their own immediate interests, work more easily within a collective, are better able to find compromises, to move projects forward.
Benefits also for the reputation of the company
It is also a key quality when it comes to convincing customers. Empathetic employees are more successful in finding the argument that will hit the mark with a given interlocutor***. They also seek less frequently to deceive their customers, which proves beneficial for the company, in terms of long-term reputation.
A good perception of the psychological springs and personal issues of each employee is finally a valuable asset when it comes to skillfully managing a team.
In such a context, the impact of meditation is particularly interesting for organizations.
An experiment with 400 employees
We conducted tests, including in a company in the insurance sector in the United States, and a consulting firm in India, examining the behavior of some 400 employees, some of whom meditated briefly for our study, compared to others. without special practice.
The difference in behavior appeared significant immediately after the meditation and a few days later, with an increase in cooperative behaviors that we qualify as “pro-social”, helping colleagues for example.
This field study was complemented by experimental research that showed an increase in financial generosity and a decrease in selfishness among participants who were asked to meditate before the test. Invited to share with others the winnings they had obtained during a game, the participants who had meditated gave significantly more than the others…
When will meditation be generalized in France?
Mindfulness meditation is therefore far from being just a tool for personal, individual development, for hedonic or curative purposes. It is a social development tool, which directly benefits organizations.
We bet that French companies, following the Americans, will seize it in a massive way, beyond the universe of trendy startups and the most advanced large groups in this field, such as L’Oréal, EDF, Siemens or Sodexo.
But the subject could concern civil society more broadly. Training young French people who are more empathetic, more cooperative, would be of major interest. When will mindfulness meditation be generalized within the school system?
*Helping people by being in the present: Mindfulness increases prosocial behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Hafenbrack, AC, Cameron, LD, Spreitzer, GM, Zhang, C., Noval, LJ, & Shaffakat, S. (2020).
** The emotional intelligence of leaders. Leader To Leader, Goleman, D. 1998.
***On the Role of Empathy in Customer-Employee Interactions. Journal Of Service Research, Wieseke, J., Geigenmüller, A., & Kraus, F. (2012).