Without a doubt, businesses want employees who will work hard and, in turn, help the company grow. In the past few years, corporate mindfulness has come into vogue, with its own sets of complications and challenges. Take, for example, the tagline of a recent Salon article: “Mindfulness matters, but make no mistake: Corporations are co-opting the idea to disguise the ways they kill us.”
On a company’s part, it can be easy to develop slick rhetoric about mindfulness that puts the responsibility onto each employee. However, it’s true that employees can be stressed about things a company has control over, like salary, benefits, and the amount of work that needs to get done in a certain amount of time. For that reason, this shift of responsibility onto employees is not necessarily fair or would improve overall wellbeing.
Though, the article does indicate that this outcome doesn’t have to happen for corporate mindfulness at every company. But the fact is, right now everyone involved in the corporate mindfulness debate has to address the question of “who knows?” The author says that some view the “who knows” question as something inconsequential that can be easily dismissed, while he thinks the question should be explored openly from all sides.
This “good faith” perspective is all well and good. It’s easy to write, and it sounds like an overall good starting solution. But in practice this balance of ideas would be difficult to achieve. Everyone has his or her own agenda, whether it’s making a ton more money or tuning inward. For that reason, it’s important to explore how everyone’s agenda can align in some way.
So, what is something that everyone can relate to? It’s simple: stress. While in a corporate setting higher ups may feel okay with saddling underlings with more stress, it stands to reason that the same corporate higher ups have to deal with stresses in their personal lives. To keep that idea from feeling like something that’s easier said than done, there should be programs or services that bridge the gap between a personal mindfulness practice and a corporate one.
Admittedly, that isn’t a hard and fast solution, and it’s probably already been done before. It’s just that there needs to be something that binds us all together, that makes us all see people as people, not dollar signs. Shouldn’t there be some innate human compassion and understanding that comes to the forefront?
As the past has shown, with the example of the 21-year-old finance intern dying from exhaustion and Amazon’s toxic work environment, there seemingly isn’t something innate that prevents workplace stresses and their often harsh effects. Even in the aftermath of the intern’s death, does a new 17 hour a day limit imposed by a another company in the same field respect the personal and professional needs of a worker?
Here we are back at the same question: “who knows?” In addition to stress, all of us share the same present moment; there aren’t time machines (yet). In the end, perhaps it isn’t a matter of any radical changes or action plans, but rather establishing safe spaces that cultivate mindful changes.