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Regular access to meditation apps improves staff wellbeing and performance

13 January 2020

Encouraging staff to use an online meditation app is a simple and effective way for employers to improve feelings of health and wellbeing, as well as improve job performance, says research by Dr Antonia Dietmann presented at a BPS conference.

Lead author Dr Dietmann, from HM Courts & Tribunals Service, said:

“Organisations are increasingly using meditation and mindfulness to support employees’ wellbeing.

However, current evidence supporting links between meditation and increased wellbeing in the workplace have generally been based on clinical or non-working populations.”

A total of 724 employees from a large government agency volunteered and were randomly allocated to one of two groups.

Both groups completed questionnaires before and after using the app, but the intervention group could immediately use the app once they completed the first questionnaire. They were asked to use the app for just 10 minutes five times a week.

The other group was told there was a delay and that they would get access soon. They were encouraged to complete the second questionnaire after six weeks.

The post and pre-questionnaire evaluated: stress, mental wellbeing, mindfulness skills, job demands and job performance.

Both groups used the Headspace basics pack; most commonly to tackle stress and improve sleep.

Users said they felt less stressed, more able to cope with life and happier with their job performance.

The changes in average score of the stress measure in particular shifted from 20 out of 40 to 14.5/ 40 over the six weeks. This is likely to be noticeable in their daily experience. Furthermore, the scores in these two areas for the control group stayed the same over time – they had no improvement.

Participants said they used their commute as a good opportunity to access the app. Overall, participants clocked up nearly 900 hours of meditation during the study.

Dr Dietmann said:

“This study suggests that organisations can improve their employees’ wellbeing by encouraging and providing access to online mediation apps – we specifically tested Headspace.

Even a relatively short intervention had a positive effect.

The fact that 80 per cent of all participants recommended it and 60 per cent intend to continue using it is a good indicator of its success.”

Dr Dietmann presented her study at the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference last week.

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