Management

Studies estimate that 50-70% of general practice consultations feature stress related issues (i).  In the workplace stress related disorders are becoming the most prevalent reason for worker disability (ii) manifesting as absenteeism, workforce turnover, loss of productivity and disability pension costs (iii)(iv).

The 2001-2002 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) survey indicates that 563,000 people were experiencing stress, anxiety or depression brought on or made worse by work. On average each of these people lost 29 work days, equating to a total of 13.4 million days lost in the 12 month reference period. This equates to a loss of a half-day of work per worker per year in Great Britain alone. Extrapolating from this, the HSE concluded that work related stress, anxiety or depression costs the economy in the region of 370 million pounds (v). The Bristol work stress study assessed 17,000 workers and found that approximately 20% of respondents experienced very high or extremely high levels of stress at work.

Stress management interventions (SMIs), such as meditation, are potentially simple yet effective health promotional strategies that can make a significant contribution to reducing national health expenditure, beyond that of simply addressing the immediate impact of work stress (vi)(vii). The workplace is also an ideal setting for the implementation of SMIs since much  of the adult population spends a considerable amount of their waking hours at work.

A study on the effect of meditation on work related stress-anxiety-depression, a randomised, controlled trial.

This was a 3 arm design - parallel randomized controlled trial which compared “classical” (thoughtless awareness) meditation, “contemporary” (relaxation oriented) meditation and a waiting list (control).

After 8 weeks of twice weekly classes the groups were assessed for the key mental health indicators, stress, anxiety and depression. Since the main difference between the meditation groups and the RM group was that meditation featured “thoughtless awareness” as its primary goal for meditation training, these results suggest that the experience/state of consciousness associated with “thoughtless awareness” has profound, specific effects for reducing stress and improving mental health. These effects are greater than simple relaxation or placebo. In this study the thoughtless awareness approach is more effective in reducing work related stress, general anxiety and depressive symptoms. This is the first RCT of meditation for work stress to clearly demonstrate an effect in comparison to a credible control.


The research project "Response".

Developing social responsibility in managers through introspective-meditation coaching.

The largest research project to date in Europe focused on the study and integration of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in large multinational corporations.  

This project, funded by the EU Commission’s Research unit with a 1.1 Million Euros budget, includes a number of groundbreaking experiments on the impact of meditation as a training approach to facilitate the development of social consciousness in managers and employees.

Results show that meditation has significant impacts on the psychological and individual (values) factors that influence socially responsible behaviour in managers, vis-à-vis both passive (waiting list) and active (hatha yoga training) control groups.  During the course of a six week coaching program (9 hour total contact time, 1.5 hr/week), participants report significant pre-post intervention changes in: (a) decision-making criteria (higher weight of environmental impact vs. productivity; higher weight given to impacts on external vs. internal audiences), (b) personal values (higher salience given to “unity with nature”, lower salience given to “preserving public image”), (c) emotional traits (higher levels of happiness, of inspiration, of courage), (d) psychological health (more frequent experience of calm and of determination), and (e) perceptions of corporate culture (more consensus oriented decision-making, more cooperative conflict resolution).

Impact training, one of the partner associate of CEL has delivered the introspective-meditation coaching, focused on thoughtless awareness, for this research project.

 

(i) Manuso, testimony to the president’s commission on mental health, vol 2, appendix. Washington, US government Printing Office, 1978
(ii) Hurrell, Environmeental and Occupational Medicine,2dn Ed, Boston Mass, Brown and Co, 1992
(iii) Fielding, Work Site Stress Management: Approaches and Interventions, J Occup Med 1989, 31:990-995
(iv) Palmer S, Stress Management: approaches and interventions, Br J of Guidance Counselling, 1994, 22:65-73
(v) Smith A. The scale of perceived occupational stress.  Occupational Medicine (Oxford). 50(5):294-8, 2000 Jul.
(vi) Cryer B. McCraty R. Childre D. Pull the plug on stress.Harvard Business Review. 81(7):102-7, 118, 2003 Jul.

(vii) Patel 1985 BMJ