How Can Mindfulness Help in the Workplace?
“For leaders, the first task in management has nothing to do with leading others: step one poses the challenge of knowing and managing oneself. That includes connecting with the deep values that guide us….and a predisposition to help others”.
The cost of stress, anxiety, depression and work-conflict to employers in Australia runs into the tens of billion dollars annually. This takes the form of reduced work performance, sickness absence, staff turnover and workers compensation claims. Given this powerful economic rationale, organisations are realising the importance of investing in staff wellbeing and performance.
Mindfulness describes a particular way of paying attention – on purpose, in the present moment and non judgementally (Jon Kabat-Zinn). When we intentionally pay attention to moment by moment events as they unfold in our internal and external world, we can start to notice our habitual responses to such events. Mindfulness is a natural state that can be developed through meditation practices such as sitting still and attending to the breath, sounds, thoughts or emotions.
Research shows that people who are more aware of their thoughts and feelings, are better able to manage them. Mindfulness training boosts attention and concentration, raises emotional intelligence and improves relationships. Research also shows that people who are better at working with their minds and mental states will be more productive than those who are less skilled in these areas and it is these benefits of mindfulness that has lead to the increasing popularity of mindfulness training within the business world.
Mindful organisations can benefit from:
- Reduced costs of employee absenteeism caused by illness and stress
- Improved cognitive function – including better focus and concentration, memory, learning ability and creativity
- Increased productivity and enhanced overall employee wellbeing
- Reduced attrition rates and associated costs
- Enhanced relationships with clients, colleagues and teams
- A visible and tangible corporate responsibility stance
- Enhanced employee engagement and satisfaction
Mindfulness can be incorporated into many aspects of the organization including:
- Mindful communication either face to face, email or via the telephone
- Mindful work practices where skills are developed to allow focus to be placed directly on the task at hand, without distractions from disturbing thoughts and external events
- Mindful meetings to ensure all participants are able to be fully present and to be able to give 100% of their attention to the tasks at hand and also to be able to communicate skillfully with each other
- Mindful awareness of personal stress levels in order to produce optimal performance
- Mindful life balance to ensure greater overall wellbeing
- Mindful action to ensure that all actions are based on wise choices and not “autopilot”