In the wake of Silicon Valley’s growing interest in smart pills and micro doses of psychedelics to stimulate their brains for inspiration, the startup world is becoming increasingly aware of a growing problem in its work environment around how to scale a business and manage the startup stress loop. Though smart pills and psychedelics may be capable of lifting spirits and unlocking creativity, prolonged consumption is not the answer. Instead, startups should resort to — and some are — more innocuous and healthy ways of recharging their teams’ creative cells. Meditation and spirituality are two effective practices being introduced in the startup space to instil the positive energy required to give everyone’s creative juices a big boost. Specifically, meditation is allowing businesses to create a stress-free environment to recharge employees and boost productivity.
Many startups today are realising that there is more to a business than just profits. Money as the sole target has become a thing of the past; it is the values and culture that are considered to be of equal or greater importance today. Meditation is both a mindful act and an enhancement of what is possible with the brain, the mind, and the body. After yoga gained popularity through its primary focus on physical health over the past decade, the next frontier is our minds. Creating a corporate culture grounded in meditation not only improves the employees' focus but also helps them in coping with stress efficiently. It brings a positive impact on the human functioning at large and particularly improves attention, cognition, emotions, behaviour, and physiology. Numerous studies have reported that startup employees who embrace meditation can remain attentive for longer periods of time at both visual and listening tasks. The popular app Headspace has received tens of millions of dollars in venture funding and is becoming the de facto choice for a meditation app, while other startups are running guided meditation programmes and bringing in experienced teachers to lead meditation.
When we talk about spirituality in a startup environment, we refer to an organisational culture that sets intentions and supports personal growth of its employees. However, there are different perspectives on spirituality when it is associated with a work environment. Some consider it a symbol of personal values like honesty, integrity, and good quality work, while others believe that it is about something beyond them, and try their best to treat their co-workers and employees in a responsible, caring manner, believing that everyone around them may be a tiny derivative of the same universe. And then there are those for whom spirituality means making their business socially responsible in a way that it impacts the environment by serving the community or helping in the creation of a better world.
While spirituality and meditation can positively impact startup workplaces, are they mutually connected with profitability? The ethics and spiritual values accompanying spirituality and meditation have tremendous potential in increasing the productivity and profitability of a startup as well as boosting its employee retention, communication, customer loyalty, and brand reputation. Business leaders in the West have been incorporating these practices in recent years and claim to have reaped benefits out of it, underlining how it is more than just a feel-good exercise. Most recently, during PM Modi’s visit to the Facebook headquarters in the Valley, Mark Zuckerberg shared that during a tough patch in Facebook’s history, Steve Jobs, the Founder of Apple, recommended that he spend a month visiting temples in India. Zuckerberg followed this advice, and he claims it helped him overcome his troubles.
This sudden interest in training the body and the mind in startups is driven by numerous factors like corporate downsizing and greater demands for creativity from the globalised market. To survive this rush and stress, organisations must offer a greater sense of meaning and purpose to their workforce than just bigger pay packets, and focus on building better relationships with customers and employees.
In order to become successful, the new generation of businesses must evade the ongoing competitive startup battle. To sustain and make their way towards growth, they require a clear vision of their goals and must strive to be innovative in their product/service delivery approach. For any business, whether it is a startup with an employee base of 25 or an established company of 25,000, its team is its most important resource. Innovation and inspiration are born at an individual level, and startups must ensure their employees develop a healthy body and a happy mind. This approach can significantly increase employee creativity and, by extension, facilitate optimum productivity for an organisation.
A growing number of startup leaders using these techniques in their organisations are already reaping benefits, as their ventures achieve strong growth and exhibit the potential of evolving into one of the most powerful business institutions in the world. Their approach towards creating better workplaces could very well end up turning Khalil Gibran’s quote, “work is love” into a tangible reality.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)