The environment in which we work can soon become a stressful fast-paced place. However, it is possible to create a calm space for workers to thrive and the answer to reducing this lies with mindfulness – a gentle practice that enables us to be still without judging thoughts or actions.Though the information around mindfulness is still relatively limited, it is becoming a favourable approach in creating workplace satisfaction and can be adopted in a variety of ways.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice closely linked to meditation. It is the ability to be still and sit in the present moment, allowing your mind to be free from distraction and judgement. The ethos behind mindfulness is living in the moment, rather than ruminating about the past or worrying for the future.
To teach the mind to be present, we must teach ourselves to live mindfully by taking conscious breaths and managing our reactive thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness In The Workplace
Though a growing trend, mindfulness and mindful leadership comes far and few between in working environments, however, mindfulness can be applied to everyday life. In the workplace, mindfulness means being mindful of your work surroundings. This incorporates being present whilst remaining focused on the task at hand. Allowing your mind to drift off to think about lunch during a meeting is not letting your mind live in the present moment.
To be mindful, we must pay close attention to both internal and external stimuli. The way in which we do this in the modern world is through the action of repetitive attention to events and experiences. A mindful employee will observe what is happening around them, absorb it, but not react to it.
Being mindful is often a misled perception, commonly known as a ‘trait’ in someone, it is rather a state, that we as humans can control. However, it is variable depending on what is going on during our working day. A mindful employee might be paying close attention to a task they’re working on, however later in the day they might lack focus and become less mindful by scrolling through social media during a presentation. Whilst they are mindful, it can be vary depending on what they’re doing.
The Benefits of Mindfulness In The Workplace
Mindfulness in the workplace has a range of benefits, ranging from improving social relationships, helping to manage workplace stress and promotes empathy and response flexibility in difficult and challenging situations. Here we look at each in further detail:
Enhances Social Relationships
By practicing mindfulness, employees are likely to show greater empathy and acceptance of colleagues. Studies suggest that the training of mindfulness promotes positive interpersonal relationships. This highlights the importance of mindfulness in relationships and the development of your business with employees working as a team and collectively for themselves and each other.
Stress and Resilience
Mindful employees are associated with stronger resilience. Not only does it help when communicating with colleagues it protects us from negative emotions and decreases reactivity during highly stressful moments. For optimal work functioning, mindfulness is vital in facing interpersonal and task-related stressors by effective regulation and persistence.
Performance of an employee depends on the task at hand, however, some mindfulness practices can help enhance their overall performance. Not only does it help with decreased rumination, it improves forgetfulness, distraction and failures proving the repetition of mindfulness leads to improved workplace performance and fewer mistakes.
Mindfulness shows positive effects on how we as individuals respond to stressors. When a mindful employee is faced with a challenge, they will adapt rather than react emotionally or judge the situation. By being able to look at stressors constructively and positively, the individual will feel an overall increase in job satisfaction.
Furthermore, mindfulness leads to an increase in self-determined behaviour that relates to an employees’ needs and values by bringing attention to awareness and decreasing unhealthy habits.
Consistent mindfulness also displays signs of leadership development. The reason for this is increased self-awareness which promotes employee success and effective processes for organisations that promote employee development and progress.
By employing mindful leaders, as a business, you’re setting an example to the wider company in how to better manage their well being at work.
The larger the investment in ones’ job the higher the job satisfaction. Mindfulness helps to lower the chances of employee turnover, increasing performance, and happiness at work whilst keeping job burnout related to work stressors to a minimum.
Changes within an organisation such as company merges, redundancies and processes. Mindfulness can help employees cope with change and reduces stress surrounding loss of job control that often comes with business changes. Mindfulness also promotes objectivity when faced with ego-defensive reactivity when under threat.
Mindfulness plays an important role in the workplace in maintaining job satisfaction, employee retention, coping with change, and increasing employee engagement. There may be initial challenges and the results may be slow-growing, however, the benefits of taking a mindful approach in the workplace for the well being of staff can be fruitful to them and the success of your business.