Mindfulness is more than meditation. A common question we get asked is how mindfulness works or is it just a hype? This week is Mental Health Awareness week and with huge demands and pressure today in the workplace what better time to practice and learn about mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of deliberately bringing your full attention to the present moment. And right now, mindfulness is in demand by organisations seeking to improve organisational performance. There seems to be no end to the benefits of mindfulness for leadership, problem-solving, innovation, employee well-being – and productivity.
5 benefits of mindfulness in the workplace:
- Increase in employee focus – research shows that a mindfulness practice improves our ability to focus on a chosen area and to screen out distractions. And with the news that multitasking can result in a productivity loss of up to 40%, mono-tasking is a valuable skill to learn.
- A decrease in stress – people who practice mindfulness for as little as 5 minutes a day reported significantly reduced stress levels. One company reported a drop of 71% in absences related to stress and anxiety – that’s a change you’ll notice on the bottom line.
- Boost in executive brain function – studies have shown that in as little as 8 weeks, mindfulness increases activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, responsible for assessing value, decision-making, problem-solving, emotion regulation and other higher-level functions.
- Stronger immune response – a ground-breaking study showed that practicing mindfulness meditation increased the immune system’s ability to fight off illness. Imagine that: your entire workforce, stronger.
- Increase in resilience –for innovative companies, the ability to bounce back after adversity is a must. Less mental shutting down and emotional wallowing means more energy available to get up, dust yourself off and try again.
Right now, some of the most successful global companies are taking mindfulness seriously and in a big way. There is a reason some of the world’s biggest brands are bringing mindfulness to work. It’s now part of the core strategy of vibrant companies and people. We’ve read the testimonials and seen the research from CEO’s and the world’s leading centres of learning. Mindfulness works and it can work in big and small workplaces.
So, where do you begin?
1. Getting your people onboard – overcoming Mindfulness myths
It’s important to give your employees some background before you set out on mindfulness training at work. People resist change and new ways of thinking, but this can be overcome by giving employees a few background facts.
- Mindfulness brings strength. It doesn’t make us “soft” (whatever that is). It brings focus and resilience. Clarity is a good thing and mindfulness can help make things clearer.
- Mindfulness is not some “woolly” concept. It’s about brain power and higher - order thinking. It’s not about stopping thinking; it’s all about thinking, in a smarter way. Not a bad idea, for leaders and executives alike.
- Mindfulness does not ignore stress. It challenges how we deal with stress. Staff will embrace new ways of managing a big issue in the workplace when they see how mindfulness can help their health and well being.
- Mindfulness pays. Happier, focused staff, thinking and listening properly, making conscious and thoughtful decisions, bring emotional and financial benefits to the workplace. Again, research and experience tell us so.
2. What will my people respond to?
In short, people will respond to expert and qualified training. Once you have that right, you can also think about what the overall goals of the training are, but expect to find benefits following training, that you hadn’t even considered.
Millennials and Baby Boomers may appear to have totally different needs at work, but mindfulness can help people who are looking for happiness at work and those whose sole focus is targets or sales. Your training needs to focus on where your employees are in their lives and work right now. In fact, mindfulness training can even help you and your employees focus on what you actually want and need to have a successful workplace. This is key to bringing your people on board.
3. Get the right training and keep being mindful
You’ve decided that mindfulness training will help your workplace. What next?
There are a few things to think about…
- Time. How much time and/or resources do you have? Are you going to test the water with a view to an ongoing programme? Are you going to try out training with a core team or from the top down? Are you ready to commit to a company-wide, dedicated programme?
- Get the right trainer. You need people with the right qualifications and experience. Having an interest in mindfulness and being a passionate, practiced expert are two different things. Chose the latter. Make sure your trainer is sourced well.
- ‘Use it’ or ‘Lose It’. Practice mindfulness in the workplace after training. If your training is good, this will make you want to keep it up. Have a campaign in place to keep mindfulness practice alive at work.
- Give employees a reason. Make sure your team has practical advice on how to use mindfulness in specific areas of work, following their training. Think about what physical or financial resources you need to do this. Let them know that you’ve brought mindfulness to work and it’s staying! You will all reap the rewards.
If you are thinking about mindfulness training in the workplace, you can to talk to us about what your team needs for a workplace with more energy, focus, and resilience. Develop a mindfulness culture at work and you won’t look back.