Picture: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

MINDFULNESS research is convincing many managers that investing in reflection, openness and thoughtfulness will have a positive effect on employees and the bottom line. Here is how some well-known companies are engaging in mindfulness.

1. Google prides itself on being socially conscious, offering employees substantial benefits and perks, including more than a dozen mindfulness courses. Its most popular course, Search Inside Yourself, which has been offered since 2007, has thousands of alumni. Participants of the programme report being calmer, more patient and better able to listen. They also say the programme has helped them better handle stress and defuse emotions.

2. Aetna developed, launched and studied two mindfulness programmes in 2010 — Viniyoga Stress Reduction and Mindfulness at Work. The goals of the programmes were to help reduce stress and to improve reactions to stress. Aetna liked the outcome of its study on mindfulness so much that it now offers its mindfulness programmes to customers.

3. General Mills has offered mindfulness programmes designed to improve employee focus, clarity and creativity. The company also offers weekly meditation sessions and yoga classes, and it has a dedicated meditation room in every building on its campus.

4. Intel began offering its Awake@Intel mindfulness programme in 2012. On average, participants report a two-point decrease (on a scale of one to 10) in stress and feeling overwhelmed, a three-point increase in overall happiness and wellbeing and a two-point increase in new ideas, insights, mental clarity, creativity, ability to focus, quality of relationships at work and level of engagement in meetings, projects and team efforts.

As many organisations can attest, bringing mindfulness to the workplace has decreased people’s stress levels while improving focus and clarity, listening and decision-making skills, and overall wellbeing. Perhaps most importantly from a management perspective, mindfulness gives employees permission to think. Mindfulness is the essence of engagement. Being fully present — and allowing your team to be fully in the moment — will reap rewards on a personal and professional level.

Adapted from Why Google, Target, and General Mills are Investing in Mindfulness at HBR.org.

© 2015 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp