Eastern Practices Penetrate U.S. Corporate Culture
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has introduced free yoga and meditation classes for employees of the health insurance giant, and more than 13,000 are participating. On average, they experienced a 28 percent reduction in their stress levels, 20 percent improvement in sleep quality, 19 percent reduction in pain and 62 minutes per week of extra productivity.
“We have this groundswell inside the company of people wanting to take the classes,” says Bertolini. “It’s been pretty magical.” He sells the same classes to businesses that contract with Aetna.
Google now offers emotional intelligence courses for employees and General Mills has a meditation room in every building on its Minneapolis corporate campus. Even conservative Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs are teaching meditation on the job.
Some programs, from yoga sessions for factory workers to guided meditations for executives, are intended to improve overall well-being; others to increase focus and productivity. Most aim to make employees more present-minded, less prone to make rash decisions and generally nicer people to work with.
More than 21 million individuals now practice yoga nationwide, double the number from a decade ago, and nearly as many meditate, according to the National Institutes of Health.