SAP Global Mindfulness Practice Helps Employees Improve Well-Being, Productivity, Leadership Skills
SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software, helping companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system. SAP’s purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. It’s been SAP’s purpose from day one. So when customers have the next big idea to save a species, transform an industry, feed the hungry, support equality, or provide relief worldwide – SAP delivers the right technology to help them run at their best and achieve their vision.
Enabling lasting success and wellbeing at work and in life
One of the most successful employee programs at SAP is the SAP Global Mindfulness Practice, which started as a grassroots initiative. The two-day mindfulness and emotional intelligence workshop “Search Inside Yourself” has become the company’s most popular training, with more than 10,000 trained practitioners and over 8,000 employees on waiting lists. Peter Bostelmann, Chief Mindfulness Officer at SAP, brought a mindfulness approach that combines emotional intelligence and neuroscience to SAP in 2012, and has since developed into a global program. Bostelmann says he fully believes in the methodology; he is convinced that the key to its success is the growing network of supporters among employees.
In partnership with the not-for-profit Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), SAP have trained selected SAP employees in the emerging field of teaching mindfulness in corporations. SAP now has 40+ Search Inside Yourself teachers around the globe. Matt Champion, Customer Innovation Director, SAP UK, became a teacher in 2018: “It’s humbling to be a part of program that helps to improve my colleagues lives both at work and at home. Mindfulness helps us create some space in our hectic lives, live more consciously and achieve our true potential”
Leaders swear by it and the positive impact on business is undeniable. Employee engagement and leadership trust has spiked while absenteeism has declined. Employees practicing mindfulness report greater job satisfaction, a greater ability to focus, and a higher level of mental clarity and creativity. It is even providing a competitive advantage — what started as an internal movement has spread beyond the company.
Relax as You Leave Your Comfort Zone
Mindfulness training courses teach you to focus on the moment and tune into sensations, feelings, and thoughts without judging them. This enables you to organize your ideas and not be overwhelmed by them, which makes it easier to deal with the “now” and determine the best way to act. By freeing yourself from the pressure that comes with having to react quickly, you have more energy to reflect and be creative. Stress reduction, however, is just a nice side effect. It also strengthens your emotional intelligence, which is an important foundation for diversity and working well with others — qualities that SAP values.
The Search Inside Yourself course features meditation sessions and group exercises that teach participants about self-perception, regulation of emotions, resilience, and empathy. “Participants often tell us that the program helped them improve their well-being and be more genuine. You need both to be respectful and kind to yourself and others, and build trust with coworkers,” says Matt. Scientists generally agree that practicing mindfulness is good for our professional lives. In their book “Altered Traits”, Daniel Goleman, a Harvard psychologist, and Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist, state three proven benefits of mindfulness that allow people to act more effectively in unpredictable environments: staying calm and open-minded, improved cognitive ability, better focus and clarity of thinking.
No Hidden Agendas
If you are healthy and feel good, you are more productive. Is this extra productivity the real reason why companies are offering mindfulness training courses? “Our goal is crystal clear: Improve employee well-being in the workplace,” says Bostelmann. “SAP benefits most when everyone is fully present at work. The Search Inside Yourself course is not about feeling more spiritual. It is designed to help people improve their concentration, become compassionate and empathetic, and stay true to themselves.”
Help the World Run Better and Improve People’s Lives
According to Bostelmann, teaching employees to be mindful pays off.
He puts the return on investment at 200 percent, measurable not only through participant feedback (see image), but also through the increase in the Employee Engagement Index and the reduction in staff sick leave. These values affect business results: SAP’s operating profit increases by €50 million to €60 million for every percentage point increase in the Employee Engagement Index, he says. One percentage point increase on the Business Health Culture Index, which, like the Employee Engagement Index, is also measured annually in the People Survey, raises profit by €85 million to €95 million, he adds.
Build Mindfulness Into Your Organizational Culture
This success also benefits SAP customers and partners. Bostelmann explains: “Other companies are also aware of the increasing sensory overload caused by technology.” SAP’s extension of its mindfulness program has been well covered by the media. “Many customers, such as Siemens, Procter & Gamble, Deutsche Telekom want to learn from our best-practices,” he says proudly. In response to that, SAP now sends its mindfulness instructors out to customers to act as strategic advisors who help create a mindfulness training program for customers’ employees. They give Search Inside Yourself courses there and even train customers’ employees to become instructors. Bostelmann believes that this is a chance for SAP to strengthen its customer relationships. “It also means that SAP can act as a role model for others and help the world run better and improve people’s lives,” he says.
The SAP Global Mindfulness Practice program shares SAP’s own experience in establishing mindfulness practices in a global organization. This not-for-profit initiative offers best-practice models to help deliver mindfulness-based programs that make a positive social and economic contribution while enabling employees to thrive in a connected world. www.sap.com/mindfulness
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