Mindfulness at Work: How Forcing Employees To “Slow Down” Actually Gives Them A Significant Edge
Mindfulness is a buzzword in many business magazines and leadership blogs. Lauded as a miracle cure to almost all workplace ills, mindfulness is a very strong technique…but only when it is applied properly. It will not magically transform your office into a Zen monastery, but it can have some very powerful effects on your employees’ satisfaction and productivity.
Google, Apple, General Mills, Aetna and AstraZeneca, among many others, have implemented mindfulness programs to great success. Here are some of the benefits that these organizations, and others like them, reap from encouraging employees to be mindful.
Mindfulness Improves Employee Relationships
Companies that have implemented mindfulness programs have seen a boost in employee morale, thanks to the better interpersonal relationships that result.
Science Daily reports that “mindfulness may improve relationships through greater empathy and compassion,” qualities that help people relate better to each other. When employees are more capable of seeing each other’s point of view and of accepting differences and diversity, there are fewer conflicts and less unnecessary tension.
Being part of a team that works well together makes people more dedicated to achieving their goals and more supportive of each other, all features of a workplace with good morale.
Mindfulness Can Help Boost Productivity
Another benefit of mindfulness is its ability to improve our focus, attention, and working memory. Working mindfully involves focusing on a single task and resisting distractions, like checking Facebook on your phone or mindlessly clicking through emails.
In other words, mindfulness teaches you how to notice when you are “zoning out” and how to bring your mind back to the task at hand. Science has shown that multitasking is, in fact, harmful to productivity, and mindfulness is the opposite of multitasking. By focusing on one thing at a time, people make fewer errors, pay more attention to details, and finish work faster.
For employees, mindfulness means an improved ability to get work done on time and to avoid procrastination. For companies, it means higher productivity and fewer costs related to distractions.
Mindfulness Lowers Stress
Of course, the best-known benefit of mindfulness is its ability to reduce undue stress and make people more emotionally resilient.
Mindfulness teaches people to accept emotions and reactions as they come, without rejecting them or reacting to them. According to Jason Marsh, a mindfulness expert, “mindfulness fosters positive emotions and helps provide resilience against negative experiences.”
Stress is a normal part of life, especially in today’s fast-paced business world. Helping employees build resilience against stress benefits not only them, but the company as well. Your employees will be more relaxed, more productive, and less likely to fall ill.
Mindfulness Programs Help Reduce Turnover
A study published in 2013 showed that employee mindfulness programs helped reduce turnover. As any good employer knows, replacing an employee costs many times more than keeping one already there.
Because mindfulness improves employee relationships, morale, productivity and resilience, employees are more engaged and happier at work. They are thus less likely to seek work elsewhere or leave because of too much stress or a negative atmosphere.
Integrate Mindfulness In Your Employee Wellness Program
We already know that company wellness programs have amazing benefits for employees, the company culture, and company leaders. Adding mindfulness to your company wellness program makes sense: you can tie wellness and mindfulness goals to your existing employee recognition program for increased engagement.
Mindfulness is easy to teach and simple to practice. It does not require long training sessions, and can even be taught online via video. Mindfulness is easily taken out of the office as well, improving your employees’ life beyond the office walls.