- After recovering from a devastating skiing accident through yoga and meditation, Mark Bertolini decided to turn Aetna into a lab experiment in 2012 with the help of Duke University's Integrative Medicine Program and 239 employee volunteers.
- At the end, both the employees' self-reports and their biostatistics indicated such promising results that the study was published in The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, and Aetna expanded its programs to company employees and began selling the classes to clients.
- More than a quarter of Aetna's employees have now participated in at least one class, and demand now outpaces class availability.
The employees report, on average: a 28% reduction in stress; a 20% improvement in sleep quality; and a 19% reduction in pain.
Aetna attributes several benefits to these outcomes. For one, employees have reportedly become more effective workers, which Aetna says is worth $3,000 per person each year.
In addition, Bertolini believes the yoga and meditation classes have contributed to lower employee healthcare costs, reporting that costs have stabilized at about 3% lower than they were prior to the introduction of the classes.
A less tangible benefit might be the company's progressive new image, though it does have its critics.
"It's a decidedly groovy moment for the company, and Mr. Bertolini is reveling in his role as an idealistic, unconventional corporate chieftain," writes the New York Times.