A few years ago, the idea of bringing meditation in the workplace made business owners cringe. Things have drastically changed since scientific research has been carried out to prove the efficiency of mindfulness meditation on stress reduction. Businesses are now intrigued by its potential. Mindfulness is in fashion and more and more businesses are now implementing it in their workplace and reaping the benefits of a mindful workforce.
Mindfulness does not just reduce stress levels and anxiety and prevent burnout, it also:
- Improves concentration skills
- Boosts creativity
- Increases productivity and work efficiency
- Improves memory and learning ability
- Enables people to tap into their inner resources and develop their potential
- Improves decision making and clarity of thoughts
- Develops empathy and listening skills
- Improve interpersonal relationships
What company would say no to the wealth of benefits that mindfulness can bring to the workplace?
Having a mindful workplace enhances employees’ happiness and personal and professional satisfaction but what does mindfulness at work actually mean?
Stress prevents employees from performing to the best of their ability. A lot of energy is wasted when working under a sense of ‘emergency’, running from one task to the other, piling up worries, over planning and reacting inappropriately to stressful situations. Many situations that negatively impact people’s physical and mental health and can increase absenteeism.
Mindfulness creates a space for people to step back, slow down and reduce their state of tension; an opportunity to reconnect with themselves and bring their attention into the present moment. This heightened state of awareness enables them to respond to challenges and situations with a clear and calm mind. Employees learn to know themselves better, how they respond to stress, how they interact with others and the world around them and they are able to tap into their inner resources to make positive changes in their everyday life.
Mindfulness sessions involve the guided practice of exercises encouraging employees to focus on a specific object or activity, on their own breathing or their body sensations. Participants learn to connect with themselves from a state of calm observation and non judgment. Any activity can be an opportunity to practice mindfulness : awareness of body sensations whilst walking or breathing, the sensations of the muscles involved in maintaining good posture, etc. Mindfulness is an attitude, a conscious effort to put aside and preconceived ideas and filters preventing us from seeing thing as they really are.
Mindfulness increases focus, attention and concentration that are important ingredients to resilience and high performance. It can be introduced in the workplace in different formats including:
- Integrating mindfulness modules into existing leadership, management and learning and development programmes. These modules can also be topic specific such as resilience, wellbeing, emotional intelligence with mindfulness as the main training tool
- Offering regular mindfulness sessions either following the mindfulness-based stress reduction programmes (MBSR) or an adapted version of it.
It all sounds good. But…
Running mindfulness programmes are fairly low cost but take a high degree of patience, motivation and commitment both from the employer and the employees. Business owners and managers should develop their own mindfulness for employees to witness positive changes and feel motivated to embark on their own journey to mindful living and mindful working.
Mindfulness is a highly experiential practice and like any other discipline, it takes time and regular practice to embody it. We are talking about a life changing practice here and unfortunately, change does not happen overnight. That means regular sessions in the workplace with a high level of commitment from staff members and encouragement from employers to take that time for themselves. The benefits of the practice can be felt straight away but in order to experience long lasting positive changes, regular practice both at work and at home is key. For the employer, obtaining full commitment and motivation from staff members could be the challenging aspect of this initiative.
In the long run, having a mindful workplace is definitely worth it as Google is finding out with their programme “Search Inside Yourself”.