March 16.2018, 11.06am
Mindfulness in the Workplace: How It Can Benefit Your Organisation
Would you make a change if it meant less stress and a better business culture?
If you said yes, it’s worth considering mindfulness.
The premise of mindfulness is being focused on the present moment. That means you’re not worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, or dwelling on what happened in yesterday’s meeting. This shift enables you to take a step back and make better decisions. It also enhances creativity and productivity.
It can be hard to find a moment at work when you have multiple devices vying for your attention and an inbox full of follow-up emails that you’re trying to avoid. The modern workplace is full of digital citizens dealing with constant distractions and pressures, resulting in sustained attention becoming an increasingly rare commodity in a busy workplace.
“Continuous partial attention” is becoming the norm as we focus on multiple tasks at the same time, without giving any of them our full attention. So it’s no surprise that mindfulness is now being embraced as a way to deal with this plate-spinning culture.
Originally a form of Buddhist meditation, mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and noticing your thoughts and feelings as you experience them. It’s a way of training the mind that’s been used to help sufferers of chronic pain, to treat addiction, to control stress and to improve personal performance.
In recent years, mindfulness has been adopted by professional athletes, businesses, schools and even the military as its benefits have become more apparent.
More and more HR leaders are now turning to it for the physical, psychological and performance benefits it can offer their workforce. Given how it can engage and empower your employees, it’s an approach that can have multiple benefits at every level of your organisation.
Simple steps to assist with mindfulness
Being mindful isn’t something which involves clearing an office floor for 30 minutes a day. Simple refocusing methods carried out from a desk can include:
- Mindful breathing
- Mindful observation
- Mindful awareness
- Mindful listening
- Mindful immersion
- Mindful appreciation
Boost employee focus and satisfaction
A mindful approach allows your employees to become aware of new things, to adjust their perspective, and to incorporate more context into how they process information. It removes distractions by helping employees to be ‘in’ the moment.
That ability to isolate a problem helps them to focus on the specifics of the challenge they face. This helps them to apply better problem-solving techniques, to be more proactive, and to have a greater self-awareness.
Having a focused, healthier and more productive workforce is obviously beneficial to your company but it ultimately makes for happier employees. Who doesn’t want to have a better outlook on life, to achieve more success within their job and to enjoy better engagement with their co-workers?
In this way, adopting mindfulness in the workplace can actually help you to create a happier and more engaged workforce. Creating a more harmonious environment and improving communication between employees.
Mindfulness empowers employees by showing them that they can’t control every situation but they can control their response. Taking a mindful approach will ultimately have a ripple effect on the workings of your company if each employee makes more measured decisions at each stage of a project.
Mindful managers are better leaders
Mindfulness training helps leaders to measure and manage their lives as they’re living it. It helps them to take a second to process a thought before reacting. It may not seem like much but the ongoing application of this technique can actually help to reprogram the way we think.
Imagine it as an upgrade to your internal operating system that can make you faster, more efficient and more balanced. It’s been proven to redirect brain activity to the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that handles “executive functioning.” This deals with logical processes like judgement, decision making, planning and impulse control.
Having your leadership adopt mindfulness can also reduce stress, which ultimately helps to improve performance. They’ll be calmer, less inclined to emotional responses and more aware of their interactions with colleagues or subordinates.
Mindfulness has also been shown to help with diversity in the workplace, another area that is a major responsibility for HR leaders. A McKinsey report on diversity found that ethnically diverse companies were 35% more likely to financially outperform companies in the bottom quartile for diversity.
Mindfulness helps to create an environment in which employees can avoid judgement and process their emotional responses to sensitive topics like race, gender, and ethnicity. It helps people to become aware of their inherent biases and work on them. It’s been found to be a powerful tool in diversity training and to help to break down preconceptions and prejudices.
It helps with employee wellbeing
Employee wellbeing has become a critical issue for HR and finding ways to improve it is an essential responsibility in today’s business climate. Employees at Aetna who adopted mindfulness programmes reported a 28% reduction in their stress levels, a 20% improvement in sleep quality and a 19% reduction in pain.
Mindfulness is now being seen as a powerful weapon in the battle for employee wellbeing and in efforts to develop a healthier, more satisfied workforce. The increased adoption of mindfulness in the corporate world has helped to provide research to back up the claims that it can provide lasting benefits to employees’ minds and bodies. HR leaders are key to introducing initiatives and training on how to practice mindfulness in the workplace.
Taking a moment to be mindful may not seem like a big deal. But if that moment is the start of a chain reaction in a workplace full of focused, de-stressed people, it could ultimately prove to a moment that is very well spent.
Looking to make an organisational change and invest in HR technology? Learn how to build a business case for HR Technology in our most recent whitepaper written by Head of Engagement at CIPD, David D’Souza.
By Sharon Looney