The next ‘workplace wellness’ trend is…a path to nirvana?

‘Headspace’ could mark latest trend in corporate health.

Headspace already has around 3 million users.
Headspace already has around 3 million users. –The Boston Globe/Getty

Thanks to a $30 million funding deal, meditation app “Headspace’’ could soon join the ranks of innovative workplace wellness perks some companies offer employees.

Headspace, described on its website as “a gym membership for the mind,’’ plans to release an enterprise product next year for businesses that want to provide mindfulness training for employees, CEO Sean Brecker told The Huffington Post.

Brecker said Headspace currently offers corporate packages on its app to a limited number of businesses, but expects the new funding will allow Headspace to hire more engineers, salespeople, marketers, designers, and content creators to craft special features for specific enterprises.

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Headspace promises to train users’ minds to be healthier, happier, and more mindful, through audio of guided meditation exercises that focus on a range of topics including relationships, anxiety, health, performance, and creativity. As more companies show interest in raising productivity through healthy employees, Headspace anticipates they’ll find a niche among deep-pocketed employers and increase their subscribers.

The corporate wellness landscape

If the idea of your employer paying for you to meditate seems weird to you, it shouldn’t. According to a 2015 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, most U.S. organizations either kept the same amount or increased wellness benefits from 2014, with those who added perks focusing on preventative healthcare like fitness competitions and mental health coverage. Think of meditation as the latest preventative healthcare push.

Regardless of whether organizations see any financial return for their wellness programs, studies have shown that company incentives really can help employees lose weight or get healthier.

In Massachusetts, employee perks range from an app that encourages employees to eat healthy (while paying them), free rock climbing and paddle boarding, late-night salad bars, and even “summer Fridays,’’ where employees are encouraged to leave work early every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

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The least and most-fulfilling jobs, according to those who hold them:

But do workers who actually really need wellness programs take advantage of them?

Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Ateev Mehrotra told Boston.com people who typically take advantage of wellness programs are “healthier people in general.’’ So if you’ve always been interested in fitness, healthy eating, or meditation, you’re probably going to be among those excited to utilize new workplace wellness perks.

Headspace has shown a pretty promising start, however.

Since launching in 2012, Headspace has been downloaded by 3 million users, including devotees like Richard Branson and the Seattle Seahawks.

A New York Times article praised the guided meditations for helping troubled sleepers relax, saying the pleasing British lilt of former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe was an enjoyable way to get “knocked out.’’

Headspace subscriptions cost $12.95 per month or $7.99/month for a year, but if you’re lucky, maybe your employer will cover the fee in the near future. Additional perks of the app (besides relaxation!), is that you can buddy up with friends to track your progress, and get rewards for meditating multiple days in a row.

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