Ruchika Sikri is passionate about developing a culture of mindfulness and compassion at the workplace. As Head of Well-being Learning Programs and Strategy at Google, she helps more than 100,000 Google employees lead a sustainable and full life.
Ruchika Sikri is the Head of Well-being Learning Programs and Strategy at Google where she and her team bring many programs to 100K+ Googlers globally to help them perform sustainably and live fully.
Over the past 14 years, practising yoga and meditation have been an integral part of her life.
She is a teacher, founder, architect and designer of many of these programs. Ruchika believes in meeting people where they are on their path to optimal well-being. She lives in California with her loving husband and two wonderful children.
"Ruchika is passionate about developing a culture of mindfulness and compassion in the workplace."
More about Ruchika
What does Wisdom in Business mean to you?
Wisdom in Business is the awakening of organizations to value their employees and customers as humans first and to make it their first priority to protect our planet from all harm.
You have worked over 10 consecutive years at Google as a leader. In brief, describe the evolution of Google’s approach to take care of their employees during your time.
Google has always been a pioneer in taking good care of their employees. I’ve been working here for the past 13 years and it has changed my worldview of the potential each organization holds to care for their people. In addition to providing free healthy food, gyms, meditation rooms, haircuts and laundry onsite there is space and permission for every individual to identify and participate in programs that truly support their personal subjective well-being. There are multiple options available that cover many aspects of living a healthy lifestyle. Employees can assess and choose what works best for them.
Google is a place where many grassroots efforts inform and define the top-down strategy. Mindfulness programs started like that too. For example, the Search Inside Yourself program was developed by an engineer who partnered with many experts in the field with the simple intention to end suffering. They observed and saw the potential benefit of meditation practices in the workplace and built a case to get leadership support for funding and resources. I was involved in several prototypes and pilots of SIY as a participant and that was instrumental in growing my practice. For the last 5 years, I have been leading the development efforts on our Mindfulness programs at Google. We have scaled these programs to reach 1000’s of employees globally with the support 100s of our amazing volunteers (full-time employees) who host workshops, events and guided meditations in their local offices on top of their regular duties.
How is meditation organized at Google and how popular it is among the Googlers?
It’s very popular! All our official offerings are strictly secular in nature and rooted in science. We offer workshops, online resources and community of practice programs. At any time we have more than 5000 employees on the waitlist for the workshops. More than 40,000 users visit our online resources every year. We have communities of practice in 50+ global offices where passionate and kind-hearted Googlers volunteer their time to lead daily guided meditations and other events to support the well-being of our colleagues. We also offer discounted / free phone apps to Googlers as a benefit to practicing mindfulness wherever and whenever they want.
How does Google measure the success of these practices and programs?
We measure active participation and overall satisfaction with the programs. We also measure self-reported impact on work and business results, ability to cope with stress, be more resilient, to be focused and concentrate, to be more self-aware, present and respectful to each other.
What is your advice to a leader who is considering introducing meditation as a practice at the workplace?
Just do it! Don’t overthink it. Take the first step and the rest will follow. Four key pillars that can support you on the way are - Knowledge, Practice, Community and Service. Immerse yourself in knowledge and practice to experience the direct impact on yourself first. Find a community (internal volunteers / external partners and experts) to support your intentions. Serve selflessly.
What are your personal stress management practices?
• Daily yoga and meditation practice - twice a day
• Going for long walks
• Being fully present and engaged with my family when I am with them
• I recently tried Zumba dance and it was an AMAZING stress buster! :-)
How do you define success?
The ability to cultivate inner peace and a sense of equanimity with all there is.
Which professional failure has been the most transformative for you?
I consider failures bring the most important life lessons. One time I was leading a merger of three big teams and I got too attached to my own opinions on getting things right and moving fast. Not to mention I observed a ton of friction and disappointment. Change was hard on all of us. I immersed deeply into meditation and yoga practices as part of that journey and soon recognized the importance of caring for every individual going through the change, including myself. It was a transformative experience in the sense that it changed my worldview to develop trusting relationships first by listening deeply and taking perspective to always lead with compassion.
Which advice would you give to the 20-year-old you?
Live life as it comes! Work hard. Dream big. Serve well.
What is your favourite podcast?
I listen to more audiobooks these days than podcasts. The ones I’ve enjoyed are On-being and Sounds True.
Which book would you recommend to read and why?
There are sooo many! Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl is a topper of all times.
On the lighter side - Eat Pray Love By Elizabeth Gilbert is a fun and engaging read.
I also love Everyday Blessings by Jon Kabat Zinn and A Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield.
is the beginning of all wisdom.
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