IT Best Practices

How Google Prevents Employee Burnout (and Makes Its Greatest Innovations)

The due-by date on innovation is always today, according to the business. To get those results, we expect people to be working around the clock. But at some point, even the most invested employee burns out, and not always for the reason we suspect. In their article at Wired, Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg explore the techniques that industry titan Google employs to keep their employees in tip-top shape.

Creativity Strikes When You Least Expect It

When Chade-Meng Tan started at Google, he probably wouldn’t have dreamed that he’d eventually become the chairman of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI). In the beginning, he’d just noticed that colleagues were exceptionally good at staying focused with their work, but they were actually bad at disengaging from work during breaks or when out of the office. This might sound terrific to a business on paper, but keep in mind that too much stress leads to burnout, even (and especially) if that stress is self-inflicted. So in response, Tan introduced his colleagues to mindfulness meditation, leading multiple controlled breathing exercises that became wildly popular among Google employees. Stress went down, happiness went up, and people learned to disconnect.

The science behind mindfulness is looking pretty good so far. Researchers have found that more than 40 percent of our most creative ideas come from times when we’re not focusing on the task at hand. In a study from Washington University in St. Louis, it was found that there are some interesting systems at work when we daydream:

[Marcus]Raichle’s work prompted more scientific inquiry on the brain at rest. This body of research shows that even when it feels like our brains are “off,” a powerful system, the default-mode network, is running in the background, completely unnoticed by our conscious awareness. … it’s this system— one that is “on” when we are “off”—that is often responsible for creative insight and breakthrough.

The trend of capitalizing on this inactive system isn’t anything new. Individuals from Thoreau to Thomas Edison used downtime such as naps and walking to let their minds wander off. Even Lin Manuel Miranda, the man behind the Broadway sensation, Hamilton, states that the good ideas come when your mind is thinking of other things. So if your organization is high on stress and being pressured to innovate, perhaps mindfulness could help solve both issues at once.

For additional details, you can view the original article here:

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