Lunchtime meditation might reduce workers’ stress – but it does nothing to tackle the rat-race culture that causes it
Mindfulness meditation is being offered at some of the world’s biggest companies, such as Google, GlaxoSmithKline and KPMG, to cut workplace stress and boost productivity. With workplace stress costing UK businesses £6.5bn a year, it’s no surprise that companies are investing in mindfulness: business magazines and HR journals are open about how it can boost profits. And research has shown how mindfulness reduces sunk-cost bias, where business leaders obsess about lost causes at the expense of more pressing concerns and decisions.
Yet mindfulness experts, aware that the technique could be used to turn us into placid worker drones, are taking rearguard action. Mark Williams, the founder of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, said that seeing more clearly what is happening in their lives could make employees more subversive and critical. In other words, businesses may be cultivating an army of mindful rebels. But he said that three years ago – so where’s the revolution?