The Pros and Often-Overlooked Cons of Yoga in the Workplace
Dwindling are the days when employee wellness programs mean you get 10% off your own local gym membership — if you’re lucky. More innovative and culturally focused companies are bringing employee wellness directly into the office with lunchtime group fitness classes that workers can participate in for free. And because a spin class would require hauling dozens of stationary bikes and booming volume levels, one of the most common office fitness activities is yoga.
Famous perk-filled company Google isn’t the only one to offer these classes, either. General Mills, Twitter, Zappos, and many other companies, large and small, offer these types of on-site yoga and exercise classes. They don’t require much up-front investment — employees can bring their own yoga mats, even, and a yogi staffer can helm the class — so even small companies can get in on supporting employee fitness during office hours.
Companies that are getting on board with focusing on employee wellness in the office are on the right side of history. Research is showing that companies that invest in this type of wellness are finding success, not only with employee devotion, but in terms of their company’s bottom line.
Why You Should Invest in Office Yoga
You might think that yoga would cause tired, unfocused employees in the hours post-exercise. But studies show that this isn’t the case. Researchers from the University of Bristol studied the effects of midday office exercise on employees. They looked at 200 university staff and employees working for an IT firm and pension company. The workers completed a questionnaire about their mood, workload, and performance on days when they exercised — whether using a gym or doing group classes — and days when they did not. The University of Bristol found some interesting stats.
- 72% of employees reported improvements in time management on exercise days compared to non-exercise days
- 79% said mental and interpersonal performance were better on exercise days
- 74% said they managed their workload better
- Questionnaire scores for “dealing calmly with stress” were 27% higher on exercise days
- Questionnaire scores for “feeling motivated for work” were 41% higher on exercise days
- “Concentration on work” was 21% higher on exercise days
- “Working without unscheduled breaks” was 25% higher
- “Finishing work on time” was 21% higher
These are massive numbers, showing not only that exercise classes can help employees, but that they can help significantly. And more productivity, clearer heads, better moods, enhanced creativity, lower stress, and prolonged mental stamina will help your company in the long run.
Why You Should NOT Invest in Office Yoga
Sure, there are loads of great reasons to invest in office yoga classes — and the statistics to back them up — but these classes can also cause some … uncomfortable employee situations. There are 18 reasons why office yoga may not actually be the best idea.
- Employees are going to be seeing their coworkers from some entirely … new angles — if you know what we mean. Perhaps you should eliminate the Happy Baby pose from the office repertoire.
- People who aren’t participating in the 12:00 p.m. Hatha yoga session are going to be a little steamed about the 100-degree, tropical-island office environment — especially if your office is a suit-and-tie kind of place.
- Do you have a washer and dryer on site? No? Then enjoy eating your post-workout salad surrounded by a thick film of sweat emanating from all the workout bags in every cubicle.
- It’s going to be hard to accommodate every new health-nut staff member on birthday cake lunches.
- Let’s just say that some yoga poses make it far more likely to pass certain things — and that can get really uncomfortable, really quickly.
- Some yoga attire can make Casual Fridays a little too casual.
- Your employees might start to get confused and sign off their conference calls with “Namaste” instead of “Thank you, bye.”
- A group of employees is far more likely to take off for a month and go to a yoga retreat on the ocean and Brazil, never to return.
- Try to handle the fierce clamoring from employees to replace the coffee machine with an organic kale smoothie machine.
- The sweaty floor means you are going to have to invest in some serious “slippery when wet” signs so you don’t have a class action lawsuit in your hand from all the slipping in high heels.
- Things can start to get a little Flashdance around 12:50, when every yoga employee has to hose themselves down with a bucket of water to cool off.
- Sure, the-yoga participating employees will be alert and focused in the afternoon, but the nonparticipants are 100% more likely to fall asleep with the calm, soothing ocean and jungle animal sounds emanating from the conference room.
- You have to deal with the office show-offs who are a little too proud of their strong Warrior pose.
- Lululemon will become your official office dress code. (Does Lululemon make suits and little black work dresses?)
- You’re going to want to invest another chunk of money into a state-of-the-art shower one week into the smelly yoga classes.
- Your monthly delivery of bottled water is going to have to quadruple.
- Clients will start to get confused when they hear mantras like “Om” chanting in the background of your important call.
- It can add to intra-office competition over who has a better hold on the Sun Salutation, downgrading the importance of your well-developed employee recognition program.
If you can get past the 18 “cons” of having a lunchtime, in-office yoga class, you will surely reap the benefits of enhanced employee productivity and mood. Not only will your employees be happier and more satisfied with their office environment, but it has shown to have direct effects on your organizational culture and bottom line.