March 18, 2016
Chronic illness. Job dissatisfaction. Low performance. High absenteeism. Burnout. Is there any way out of this cycle?
Fortunately, yes. Recent research on resiliency points to new areas of promise. One of the most effective is mindfulness practice.
Last year alone, 535 research papers on mindfulness were published in scientific and medical journals. Many of those papers focused on stress and the effectiveness of mindfulness in reducing it. eMindful recently completed its own research, based upon dozens of employers with thousands of employees around the world.
Since 2007, eMindful has provided live, online, mindfulness-based programs for employers to offer to their employees. We began measuring outcomes in 2010, using carefully selected, scientifically validated instruments. Data has been collected and analyzed on a sample of more than 1,200 participants in our stress programs.
Chief among the findings is a 29 percent reduction in perceived stress, from 19.6 to 14.1, using the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) developed at Carnegie Mellon University.
Mindfulness has been proven effective in countering workplace stress. A growing number of employers including Google, Aetna, and Boeing now offer mindfulness-based stress management and resilience programs. Some employers are primarily concerned with a hard-dollar ROI; others focus more on the holistic well-being of their organizations. In either case, addressing stress can offer employers enormous leverage.
For example, research on the relationship between stress and covered health claims costs was presented at the Society of Behavioral Medicine in 2011. It showed that a one point decrease on the PSS was associated with an annual reduction in health claims of $96.36 per employee. Employees in the top quintile for stress had medical claims of nearly $2,000 per year more than those in the lowest quintile.
Those findings are consistent with a study that measured the after-work levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) among a sample of more than 100 nurses. It showed that fully 25 percent of the variance in health care costs over five years could be predicted by post-work stress hormone levels.
In an increasingly competitive global economy, where technology allows little room for escape from job demands, employers that move most effectively to address stress and improve their employees’ resiliency will find themselves at a competitive advantage in employee recruitment, retention, and market performance.
 Michael Baime, MD, director of the Penn Program in Mindfulness at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, with William Pace, PhD, and William Morris, BA, of Aetna Analytics
 Ganster DC, Fox ML, & Dwyer DJ (2001). Explaining employees’ health care costs: a prospective examination of stressful job demands, personal control, and physiological reactivity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(5), 954