It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated already increasing stress, burnout, and loneliness in the workplace. Even before the pandemic, healthcare provider Cigna found that 61% of Americans reported feeling lonely.
In a study by the Harvard Business Review, 85% of adults surveyed (from 46 countries), reported a general decrease in wellbeing. 50% said that their mental health has declined, with 20% of people saying that isolation and lack of connection were the main contributors.
While most companies understand the critical need for providing mental health support to their people, many employees don’t feel that their organizations support these needs.
Businesses Understand the Value of Resilience
According to a survey in 2020 of 1000 employees at 228 US companies, the Wellness Council of America found that:
- 90% of employers were concerned that their employees were experiencing burnout;
- 93% of employers believe employee wellbeing and support will be critical for attracting and retaining talent in the future; and,
- 45% of employees experienced symptoms of burnout in the past 12 months, but only 31% of them felt supported by their employer’s mental health resources.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, stress, burnout, and loneliness in the United States workforce reduced productivity and revenue and increased turnover and healthcare spending.
- Workplace stress cost the US economy more than $500 billion per year, and 550 million workdays were lost due to stress on the job, according to the American Psychological Association.
- The World Health Organization estimates that anxiety and depression cost the global workforce $1 trillion in productivity per year.
- In a report by Cigna Healthcare, 45% of people who said they feel lonely at work reported being less productive than their non-lonely peers.
Mindfulness Practice Builds Resilience at Work
Research shows that mindfulness in the workplace supports better physical and mental health, improves job performance, and strengthens collaborative relationships. Employees who practice mindfulness at work are often more productive and happier, and they are less likely to leave for a competitor or take sick leave. They can also relate to their co-workers in more constructive ways by taking another’s perspective and reducing habitual reactions that might escalate conflict.
Leaders who practice mindful habits are more satisfied with their jobs, perform better than their peers, and are less likely to report feeling work-related burnout or exhaustion. And companies who invest in programs to boost resilience have been shown to have an ROI of $2.30 for every dollar spent in higher productivity as well as reduced healthcare costs, turnover, and absenteeism.
Using the Power of Community to Sustain Mindfulness
What does it take to create mindful, compassionate teams that are resilient at work? It’s not enough for people to just know the concepts of mindfulness or even want to learn more about it. Sustained behavior change requires access to a supportive community that employees can rely on, especially when they feel discouraged or unmotivated.
This is why Wisdom Labs created Wise@Work Communities: peer-led, weekly communities of practice in the workplace to help teams and businesses build trust, resilience, and compassion—even in the face of unprecedented stress and uncertainty.
Led by individuals in your organization and supported by Wisdom Labs instructors and experts, groups meet once a week to learn and practice the neuroscience of mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Wise@Work Communities gives team members a safe and moderated place to discuss challenges and insights as a group while integrating and developing mindful habits. Employees build trust and connection with their peers, reducing loneliness and creating authentic communities at work.
Participants also have access to the full range of mindfulness practices on the Wise@Work App, so they can practice on their own between weekly meetings.
Community in Action
The power of community was highlighted recently by one of the world’s largest technology companies, which used Wise@Work Communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite global increases in levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, employees who were part of a Wise@Work Communities cohort not only maintained their pre-pandemic resilience levels, but also decreased their perceived stress by 3% and loneliness by 7%.
Community Builds Connection in Tough Times
Participants in Wise@Work Communities have praised the program for helping their teams thrive this past year as people adapted to working from home.
One team member said that their Community has “displayed incredible vulnerability, courage, and compassion; creating trust and safety for each other that transfers to the way they lead themselves at work and in life.”
A Wise@Work Community Leader at a major tech firm also praised the program, saying that their cohort has shared “vulnerable stories on topics like working with guilt or cultivating self-compassion,” and that the “consistency of the sessions and the quality of the meditations have enabled our community to thrive.”
Another Community Leader said, “As the world has gone remote due to COVID, this sense of community is needed more now than ever.”
Bring Scalable, Affordable Resilience to Your Workplace
Wisdom Labs works with companies of any size, from start-ups and nonprofits to Fortune 500 global organizations. Get in touch with us to see if the Wise@Work Communities program is right for your organization.