As Australians Look to Mindfulness, Ford Offers Company-First Employee Training to Maximize Local $300M R&D Investment



  • Ford is investing in Australia like no other automaker with $300 million in R&D in 2015 alone and by offering employees unique on-the-job mindfulness training
  • Global Ford Futurist Sheryl Connelly reports that two-thirds of Australians agree that mindfulness is not just a fad but that half are not able to prioritize it according to the ‘Looking Further with Ford’ 2016 trends book
  • Phillip Chen Yi Mei, a 35-year Australian Ford engineer turned psychologist, launched the company’s first mindfulness training locally in early 2015; Participation in the program has jumped by 125 per cent following a successful phase-one pilot program

MELBOURNE, May 13 2016 – Ford Australia is offering mindfulness training to employees to help them de-clutter their daily distractions as the company pushes an aggressive new innovation agenda at its local and global facilities.

Ford Australia is leading the charge in connecting mindfulness with business practice, both inside and outside the company. Ford’s global futurist Sheryl Connelly pointed to the global consumer trend of mindfulness in her annual trend book, and found in subsequent research that Australians believe this mindset is here to stay.

“Australians see mindfulness as much more than a fad, they believe it is becoming a core part of our society,” said Connelly. “That’s important for companies like Ford and others such as government officials to recognize as it can lead to important behavioral changes – perhaps including the desire to tune out the numerous features in cars today.”

According to Ford’s trends book, in Australia, 76 per cent of adults understand the importance of practicing mindfulness as their lives become increasingly complicated and demanding. The need to be connected is becoming increasingly necessary.

Mindfulness research shows that yoga, meditation, breathing exercises or even a workplace nap can help improve focus, productivity, efficiency and creativity. More than half of Australians recognise the importance of mindfulness but are unable make it a priority. Australian adults under the age of 35 are roughly two-times more likely to feel anxiety when they’re away from their smart devices compared to those older.  

Trend setters

After decades of developing exciting new vehicles as a Ford engineer, Phillip Chen Yi Mei recognized the power of strengthening the mind whilst going back to school for a degree in psychology.

He specialised in mindfulness and convinced leaders at Ford Australia to bring the work inside, quickly learning employees are keen to leverage the important mind-training techniques to improve their work and home lives. 

“My interest in psychology started about 15 years ago, while completing my thesis I focussed on how to use mindfulness training to improve personal wellness and effectiveness of senior managers in the business world,” said Chen Yi Mei, who has been working for Ford for 36 years, currently as an Electrical System Engineer.

The mindfulness course involves four days of off-site training during which Ford employees are taught to cultivate personal wellness, provision effectiveness and integrate mindfulness in day-to-day activities.

“Ford’s investment in training and development enables us to work more collaboratively and innovate more while creating an environment that is conscious of employee mindfulness,” said Chen Yi Mei.

The average office worker checks their email 70x every hour, is interrupted every three minutes and takes approximately 28 minutes for the office worker to return to the task they were doing before the interruption. For this reason, mindfulness has become topical in the workplace and is why Ford Australia is investing in their employees to be able to adapt work place practices in light of this evolving trend.

“We also recognise that we need to invest in our employees to free them up to create the innovations of tomorrow for our customers through our vast R&D facilities in Australia,” said Graydon Reitz, director, Asia-Pacific Product Development, Ford of Australia.

“Ford invested $300 million in product development in Australia in 2015 alone to help create products such the all-new Everest SUV and market-leading Ranger,” said Reitz.

“We are committed to fostering an organisational culture where a strong sense of ‘family’ exists, good relationships are valued, teamwork is internally motivated, people feel genuinely valued and empowerment and employee involvement are inherently part of our nature,” says Graeme Whickman, President and CEO, Ford of Australia.

“We have already committed to another 100 Ford managers to engage in mindfulness training on top of the 82 who have already completed the phase one training program, with discussions to look at offering it to all employees.”


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