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Cortland Dahl

Chief Contemplative Officer, Healthy Minds Innovation

Josie Larimer

Director of Business Development, Healthy Minds Innovation

Now more than ever, the future of work looks different as businesses prioritize the mental health and wellness of their employees.

The COVID-19 pandemic called attention to the many shortcomings in our societal infrastructure, where large issues were being swept under the rug. Perhaps one of the most significant of these is the mental and emotional well-being of employees. During the pandemic, the burnout rate skyrocketed and businesses across the world have seen enormous employee pushback. 

It’s a wake-up call for companies. Research supports that when workers feel stressed, dissatisfied, or a lack of support, their rates of productivity are lower, and turnover is higher. Data shows that 23 percent of people feel burnout very often or always, while 44 percent experience burnout sometimes – meaning almost two thirds of employees are currently burnt out at work. Additionally, scientists believe that high burnout rates may have detrimental long-term impacts that we’ve yet to realize.

What is burnout?

A person’s mental health can deteriorate with any feelings of imbalance – whether that is caused by a chaotic or monotonous environment – which can then cause burnout. Other major contributors include feeling out of control of one’s situation or schedule, and the existence of negative dynamics in the workplace.

Triggering a full body response, burnout can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, and impact your immune system. Some feel as though they’re caught in an endless cycle and don’t know how to better their circumstances. In fact, burnout can alter a person’s neural circuits, meaning brains physically change after experiencing burnout. 

The health and wellness industry is booming as businesses in every field are implementing support systems for their employees. For long term success, employers should provide their teams with a toolkit of resources to promote mental wellness with various burnout-prevention methods. Organizations like non-profit Healthy Minds Innovations (HMI) have developed various resources for companies to improve the mental wellbeing of employees.

Programs proven to improve well-being

HMI takes decades of scientific data collected at the world-renowned Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and turns these findings into incredibly successful programs – one of which is Healthy Minds @Work.

“Healthy Minds @Work is a workplace well-being program created by neuroscientists to train employees to be more focused, develop healthier relationships, gain perspective, and bring more meaning to their work,” explains Josie Larimer, HMI’s Director of Business Development. 

A comprehensible digital tool, the program is customized to suit a company’s unique needs. At the centre of the service is the Healthy Minds Program App, which includes hundreds of hours of guided meditation, podcast style lessons on the neuroscience behind the practices, and other self-help tools. “It provides employees with a step-by-step training plan to build skills for greater well-being, taking just five to seven minutes per day,” Josie adds. Matching the app is a workplace assessment that’s focused on an individual’s well-being.

Regain purpose and perspective

HMI then analyzes the data collected from both the app and assessments and returns it to the company to view their employee’s progress and to gain further insights. The program has seen a 25 percent reduction of burnout symptoms in participants, and their overall well-being increased by 33 percent.

“The outcome of this program has been so inspiring,” says Dr. Cortland Dahl, HMI’s Chief Contemplative Officer and Research Scientist at the Center for Healthy Minds. “Especially during the pandemic – we’ve heard from so many people that Healthy Minds @Work and the Healthy Minds app helped them get through.”

The Healthy Minds @Work program improves every aspect of a business. “Employee well-being is central to having a high-functioning workplace,” Dr. Cortland says. “Employers have seen higher employee satisfaction, less turnover and a growing culture of well-being – all of which supports the growth of the overall business.”

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