You're stressed. Your clients are stressed. So are their employees. It comes at a significant cost: Chronic illness. Job dissatisfaction. Low performance. High absenteeism. Burnout.

Is there any way out of this cycle?

Fortunately, yes. Recent research on resiliency points to new areas of promise. One of the most effective is mindfulness practice.

Last year alone, scientific and medical journals published 535 research papers on mindfulness. Many of those papers focused on stress and the effectiveness of mindfulness in reducing it. eMindful recently completed its own research, based upon dozens of employers with thousands of employees around the world.

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Since 2007, eMindful has provided live, online, mindfulness-based programs for employers to offer to their employees. We began measuring outcomes in 2010, using carefully selected, scientifically validated instruments. Data has been collected and analyzed on a sample of more than 1,200 participants in our stress programs.

Chief among the findings is a 29% reduction in perceived stress, from 19.6 to 14.1, using the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) developed at Carnegie Mellon University.

Results

Mindfulness is effective in countering workplace stress. A growing number of employers — including Google, Aetna and Boeing — now offer mindfulness-based stress management and resilience programs. Some employers are primarily concerned with a hard-dollar ROI; others focus more on the holistic well-being of their organizations. In either case, addressing stress can offer employers enormous leverage.

For example, Dr. Michael Baime, director of the Penn Program in Mindfulness at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and William Pace and William Morris of Aetna Analytics, presented research on the relationship between stress and covered health claims costs at the Society of Behavioral Medicine in 2011 that showed that a one-point decrease on the PSS was associated with an annual reduction in health claims of $96.36 per employee. Employees in the top quintile for stress had medical claims of nearly $2,000 per year more than those in the lowest quintile.

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Those findings are consistent with a study reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology that measured the after-work levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) among a sample of more than 100 nurses. It showed that fully 25% of the variance in health care costs over five years could be predicted by post-work stress hormone levels.

In an increasingly competitive global economy, where technology allows little room for escape from job demands, employers who move most effectively to address stress and improve their employees' resiliency will find themselves at a competitive advantage in employee recruitment, retention and market performance.

Reach Renner, senior vice president of marketing & product management at eMindful, at kevin@emindful.com.

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