Mindfulness is a buzzword at the moment, especially in the health and wellbeing world… but what about the professional world? Can mindfulness at work yield business benefits? And will mindfulness ever be truly accepted in the workplace or will it often be seen as a ‘fluffy fad’? These businesses don’t think it’s a fad….
Google and General Mills have been offering mindfulness sessions to employees for over a decade. Their findings have inspired other companies to launch similar programs in recent years. Intel launched its mindfulness at work program in 2014, offering it to over 100,000 employees in dozens of countries. Results analysis has shown measured increases in happiness, mental clarity and well-being. Aetna, the insurance brand, found that, in one year after providing a mindfulness at work initiative, its medical claims dropped by 7.3%, which amounted to a $9 million saving.
So what is mindfulness?
‘The quality of state of being conscious or aware of something’ and ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique,’ are two common definitions of mindfulness.
When practising mindfulness we are training our mind to focus on the present moment in order to experience calm. It can come in the form of relaxation and meditation and there are many guided meditations that will talk you through focusing on the present moment, accepting thoughts and letting them go in order to come back to the present moment. Further mindful practices include approaching any task or activity – such as, eating, cleaning, or moving – mindfully, so being completely present in the moment and accepting any thoughts, sounds or distractions as just that, before returning to the task at hand.
Mindfulness in the workplace
Introducing mindfulness techniques in the workplace can help combat work-related stress and anxiety and, even better, it can be used as a preventative measure for these conditions. Understanding and following some simple mindfulness techniques can help to improve concentration and achieve a heightened state of alertness and focus at work, all while experiencing a calm state of mind.
Attention and focus are fundamental to doing an effective job, and distractions throughout the day are, unfortunately, inevitable. Mindfulness can teach us to regulate our attention and ignore distractions. People who practice mindfulness are said to experience reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, show increased compassion and enhanced behavioural regulation. Attention and focus is improved, which will have a knock on effect on the workplace, causing increased productivity, motivation and work rate.
Adding mindfulness at work to a wellbeing initiative
We offer mindfulness taster sessions, workshops and courses as part of our programme offering or as standalone pieces of work. Delivered by experienced practitioners, we teach simple techniques that will support employees to achieve a heightened state of focus, allowing them to face work-related tasks with a relaxed sense of calm.
To complement this (and if space allows) it’s also be beneficial to create an area where employees can leave their desk and have the opportunity to sit in a quiet, peaceful calm space to practice mindfulness. This is not a designated ‘Mindfulness Zone’ but more a general ‘Wellbeing Area’, which we’d describe as comfortable space where staff can get away from desks to take breaks, eat lunch and generally ‘reset’ during the working day – all of which has been proven to boost productivity.
A taster session is a good way to test the demand for mindfulness in your workplace. Even those who may be sceptical and dubious initially can come away thinking ‘actually, there might be something in this!’
To promote this – and/or a wider course on mindfulness at work – it’s useful to inform staff about some of the benefits and to to dispel any preconceived ideas about what it entails. Highlight the business leaders who practice regularly, including Bill Ford, Jeff Weiner, and Arianna Huffington, and you can even mention celebrity advocates too, such as Sir Paul McCartney, Ryan Reynolds, and Emma Watson.
For more information on our mindfulness offering, email firstname.lastname@example.org