Mindfulness meditation has gained prominence in organizational settings due to its benefits to the mind. It is a Buddhism-inspired culture in which individuals focus their thoughts entirely on the present moment. The practice disconnects the individuals from the past or future and centrally places them in the current moment. A growing body of literature links mindfulness meditation to rational thinking, emotional resilience, and job satisfaction, which are the pillars of employee productivity. Popular companies, such as Nike, Apple, and Google have woven this practice into their corporate fabric by providing meditation rooms to enable employees to meditate during work hours. Additionally, the practice has been endorsed by various Chief Executives. While mindfulness meditation vies for the organizational territory, some claims refute its benefits on employee motivation stating that it relaxes the mind hence encourages the acceptance of the current situation instead of the desire to develop. Organizations strive to motivate their employees to improve their states. Nevertheless, this practice shatters such efforts by instilling a sense of calm and equanimity. In their article, “Hey Boss, You Don’t Want Your Employees to Meditate” published in The New York Times, Vohs and Hafenbrack explore the association of mindfulness meditation and motivation.
The authors conducted five studies to investigate how the state of mindfulness impacts employee motivation and performance. They utilized multiple meditation inductions, tasks, and comparison conditions to analyze hundreds of people. An experienced meditation coach trained some of the participants to focus on their breathing and mentally concentrate on their bodies for physical sensation, a common technique employed in the exercise of mindfulness meditation. Conversely, other participants were instructed to let their thoughts wander while others read the news or narrated recent events they had engaged in through writing. After the completion of the exercise, all participants were assigned tasks that involved day-to-day office activities, including entering text into a computer for editing business memos. Before beginning their tasks, the sample was interviewed to determine its motivation: did it feel like performing the tasks? How much effort and time would it require to complete the tasks? The researchers also analyzed the participants’ performance records on similar tasks.
During the interview, the researchers revealed that those who had meditated recorded lower motivation levels. They seemed dull and did not show interest in putting in effort and time to complete the task. Hence they concluded that mediati0n induces a sense of calm and serenity while it disconnects thoughts about the future. Such states do not promote motivation since tackling work projects requires an active mind. Regarding the participants’ performance, the investigation revealed that meditation did not influence the quality of work. The results are inconsistent with the widely accepted belief that mindfulness meditation boosts mental focus thus increases productivity.
Explaining the results, the authors compared the state of mindfulness to a mental nap. While naps are linked to a feeling of calm and relaxation, only a few people wake up from them motivated to work. The practice of mindfulness motivation could be a stumbling block to motivation, yet it is an essential component of an individual's performance hence organizational success. Vohs and Hafenbrack cite a 2013 survey by Gallup, which revealed that organizations whose workers are more engaged perform better in growth and productivity compared to their counterparts.
While some companies employ mindfulness meditation to motivate their workforce, management theorists and other organizational leaders use financial incentives to boost morale. Today, many companies compensate their human resources using a performance-based approach, which aims at stimulating individuals to boost their motivation, to increase profitability. Studies have investigated the relationship between financial incentives and motivation, revealing positive results. The present study also examined the influence of financial incentives on workers’ motivation and performance. The results suggested that financial bonus for outstanding performance did not motivate employees. While many firms use material rewards to encourage workers, the technique does not substitute the internal motivation of employees. Although mindfulness can be unhealthy for complex assignments, the practice can be beneficial in other circumstances.
The authors recognize that the ability of the practice to bring about calm and acceptance is highly important. Meditation is believed to relieve tension-related pain like ulcers, headaches, muscle and joint problems, and insomnia. It is also known for increasing energy levels, decreasing anxiety, sharpening the skill of concentration, and improving emotional stability. Lastly, state mindfulness delivers spiritual benefits, including true personal transformation. The practice helps individuals to discover themselves thus develop self-love and self-appreciation. The latter is important in building confidence.
The article has changed my perception of mindfulness meditation and financial incentives. A broad body of literature indicates that meditation is a helpful technique for motivation and a lot of people agree with the claim. Most studies have produced positive results concerning the effect of meditation on employees’ motivation. The study in question, however, refutes the perceived benefit of meditation on motivation by proving that the practice is demotivating. I agree with the authors’ findings and explanation that indeed, meditation relaxes the mind and disconnects one’s mind from the future. Consequently, employees in this state require time to recollect their mind to focus on the assignment. Additionally, a relaxed mind does not favor the execution of complex assignments they require intense thinking and internalization to complete. However, these results might have been different if elements such as the timing of research and the amount of work a participant does before the research are considered. The article has also changed my attitude towards monetary incentives. I thought that employees are money-oriented and thus, the thought of earning more would motivate them. However, the article has made me reconsider my belief in financial incentives and motivation. That said, I strongly believe that the study would have achieved different results with different incentives. People strive to gain economic stability, especially when the economy is turbulent. Therefore, higher financial incentives would easily motivate workers.
The article challenges the widely accepted claim that mindfulness meditation increases employees’ motivation. The authors conducted five studies involving hundreds of people to investigate the influence of the practice on human resources’ motivation. Additionally, the researchers investigated the influence of financial rewards on the workers’ motivation. Contrary to the existing literature, the research revealed that meditation demotivates individuals due to its effect of relaxing the mind and drawing the individuals’ thoughts from the future. Similarly, it was found that financial incentives have no impact on the workers’ motivation. Since these findings conflict with previous studies, there is a need for more studies to find accurate results to put the matter into perspective.