The Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace
Have you ever wondered what mindfulness is all about and how it can benefit your employees? Read on to find out what it means to be mindful, how it can help in the workplace, who says that its effective in the workplace, how do you learn to be mindful and how I can help you and your business.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness originated from the Buddhist philosophy, however it is not a spiritual practice. It is best described as present-centred attention and awareness. This means that your awareness is in the present moment, rather than racing ahead thinking about the future or worrying about the past. It is estimated that the human mind wanders roughly half of your waking hours, this means that for at least half of the time you are not experiencing the present moment. After all the present moment is all that exists so why not get the most out of each moment?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. who is well known for bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society, describes mindfulness as “...paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
How can mindfulness help in the workplace?
Have you ever been in work with your head racing with thoughts about everything that you need to get done in the next hour/day/week/month? When you are thinking this way your attention is on the future rather than right in this moment and what needs be dealt with right now. Your focus of attention can become scattered and dispersed, making concentration and attention to detail difficult and can lead to missing important factors and mistakes occurring. These racing thoughts can also bring on stress and anxiety, making work an unhappy place to be. Maybe you have been there before? How often have you thought “That’s it I’ve had enough I’m going to quit!”?
Mindfulness can help by teaching you to keep your focus of attention on the present moment. This means that your mind isn’t busy over thinking about what needs to be done in the future, it’s just aware of what needs to be done right now. This helps to reduce stress and anxiety and can help you to think more clearly and creatively; making work more pleasurable.
Who says that mindfulness is effective in the workplace?
Extensive research has been done on how effective Mindfulness is in the workplace.
Contemplating Mindfulness at Work (An Integrative Review), which was published in the Journal of Management, reported that mindfulness had been shown to improve employee focus, attention, behaviour, and provided employees with the ability to manage stress. It can also positively impact key workplace outcomes, including performance, relationships, and well-being. A number of randomised controlled trials have also found positive effects on burnout, well-being and stress.
The British Parliament has recognised the benefits of mindfulness and in 2015 published the report "Mindful Nation UK". In the report it states that:
Even brief periods of mindfulness practice can lead to objectively measured higher cognitive skills such as improved reaction times, comprehension scores, working memory functioning and decision-making.
Experienced mindfulness practitioners have shown higher-quality reaction times and fewer error responses in controlled studies using computer-based reaction tests.
Researchers tested creative problem-solving skills and found that participants who had practised mindfulness for just 10 minutes before these tests generated significantly more creative strategies.
In 2016 Building the Case for Mindfulness in the Workplace was published which reported that:
Mindfulness within organisations can support resilience because it:
Equips individuals with self-awareness that helps them to understand resilience and actively participate in its development.
Enables people to recognise the signs of stress and respond more effectively.
Develops discernment between activities that nurture or deplete internal resources.
Recognises the power of thoughts and finds ways of skilfully working with them.
Supports a culture where relationships are valued.
High profile businesses such as Google, Transport for London, Bosch, Beiersdorf, Surrey and Sussex Police Force, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust have all implemented mindfulness into the workplace, recognised its benefits and have publicised their extensive commitment and promotion of it.
So how do you learn to be Mindful?
A 6 – 8 Mindfulness program involves attending weekly sessions that may last between 60 mins and 120 mins. During the sessions you will learn what it means to be mindful and how to keep your mind in the present moment. You will be guided through meditations which will show you different ways to anchor your thoughts in the here and now; this may include using your breath, sounds, visual cues, feelings in the body, tastes etc. During the meditations your mind may drift and wander, because that is what your mind has been doing for years, but mindfulness is about recognising that your mind has wandered and then bringing it back to the here and now. By repeatedly performing these meditations you will learn how to quieten your mind and keep your awareness in the present moment.
Over the weeks you will also be given homework to do so that you slowly learn to introduce mindfulness into your daily life, these may include:
A daily meditation practice
Doing a task mindfully such as going for a walk, brushing your teeth, eating a meal etc.
Learning to be grateful
Extending compassion to others
Treating yourself with kindness
Savouring pleasurable moments
You can listen to a mindfulness breathing meditation here.
How we can help you
We can work with your business to introduce and integrate a 6 – 8 week mindfulness program into the workplace to help employees gain a good understanding of what mindfulness is and support them through the weeks so that they gain the most out of their mindfulness practice.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you easily and effectively integrate Mindfulness into the workplace.
Building the Case for Mindfulness in the Workplace
Contemplating Mindfulness at Work