The past few hundred years, we as a species have made some incredible advances in our ways of living, our technology and our societies. Along the way, each of these stepping stones have changed how we live. But for most of our history, society didn’t change that much. The world you were born into pretty much remained the same for the duration of your lifetime. There wasn’t a brand new technology, like Gutenberg’s printing press, created each year.
But as time has passed, we have begun to see an almost exponential-like rate of change in Technology (succinctly summarized in Moore’s Law, which sees the processing power of computers doubling every two years). Technology (with it’s changes that impact society) has grown and evolved at an ever increasing rate, while theories state that we as humans may have stopped evolving as many as 10,000 years ago…
We are cavemen bodies living in space age times. The result: Our bodies can struggle to keep up with the demands of modern living, sometimes making us go a little haywire. A lot of studies have pointed to modern living and digital connectedness as a major contributing factor to poor physical and mental health. Stress and mental health issues in the workplace costs US businesses somewhere in the region of 1 trillion dollars annually in lost productivity.  That’s a big chunk of lost revenue.
But we kind of know these things, intrinsically at least. Kind of.
Here’s a statistic to keep in mind: a WHO study reported that every one dollar spent towards mental health initiatives generates four dollars in return.  That should be enough of an incentive for business owners to get behind. But could we begin to move away from wearing the “80 hour workweek” as a badge of honor, using caffeine overconsumption to compensate for poor sleep (induced by poor tech-dependent habits), or even working less hours for greater staff happiness, wellness AND productivity?
The current trend in workplaces certainly points promisingly towards this.
As companies have had to focus on numbers to maximize margins, there’s been a focus on creating environments that aid better productivity. This unsurprisingly leads to management focusing on creating a workplace environment that’s as optimal as possible and looking into improving the individuals’ wellbeing, nurturing positive work cultures and healthy work-life balances. These contributing factors towards company profits have shown such promise that they have in fact become a core strategic activity of many of these companies and their HR departments. Some companies even have begun to focus on helping their employees across all aspects of their life — from their diet and personal finances to their fitness and social lives.
It’s not yet common practice, but there’s a ton of great initiatives out there. Here we’re going to list three specific ones that we think help to treat the cause, not the symptom.
Banning outside hour emails
France’s government implemented email laws in 2017 making it illegal for companies to send emails to their employees outside of work hours with the goal to ensure employees are paid fairly for the hours worked and to prevent burnout (emails being a big source of stress for employees). Although it’s slightly different legislation, caused by a sharp increase in burnout and drop off of productivity, the German government similarly pushed to ban emails sent to workers outside of office hours. Firms like BMW and Daimler already followed similar policies before the legislation was implemented.
Napping Pods & Sleeping Rooms
A study by McKinsey found that participants (43 percent) say they don’t get enough sleep at least four nights a week. Studies have shown time and time again that sleep-deprived brains lose their ability to make accurate judgments. Those judgements are what make up your year-end revenue, so much so that a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation found that because of sleep deprivation, the U.S. sustains economic losses of up to $411 billion a year (or 1.23 million working days), nearly three times the $138 billion Japan loses. 
Now we are beginning to see companies, such as the likes of Google (nap pods in their Headquarters) and Nike (dedicated rooms for sleep or meditation) noting it’s true and massively impactful in importance.
Aetna has even gone one step further and actually pays their employees to sleep.
Meditation Rooms & Mindfulness Courses
These are all the buzz the last few years and for good reason. If you’re not meditating or implementing some kind of mindfulness regime, you’re kind of missing out. Some of the big name CEOs in big business meditate or have a mindfulness practice. Why is that? Apart from making you a better leader it can strengthen your focus, keep you calm under stress and improve your memory.
A mindful and balanced workforce — what’s not to desire? That’s why a number of Fortune 500 companies, including Google, AOL, Apple and Aetna, offer meditation and mindfulness classes for employees.
Want to get training your brain? You don’t have to wait till your company starts introducing it – there’s already a ton of highly helpful apps to get you started or to keep you up the habit.
Similarly, The Pip is a handy piece of tech that actually helps you learn to manage stress and live more mindfully. A biosensor held by your fingertips, it measure stress levels via Electrodermal Activity and speaks to your smartphone – using apps with sounds and visual feedback and progression to help train you to better learn how to manage your stress levels.
Originally published on The Pip.