Mindfulness is a term we hear a lot lately, but what does it do for us? And how can encouraging our employees to use mindfulness at work benefit the employee experience?
Mindfulness is achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment and calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. The goal is to shift thoughts towards an appreciation of the moment in order to see the bigger picture. Mindfulness at work is a therapeutic technique that will relieve stress so that you and your employees are better equipped to overcome (and mentally handle) any obstacle. This is important because contrary to some people’s beliefs, the positive effects of mindfulness have been scientifically proven to improve lives at home and at work.
How will mindfulness change employee behavior?
Do you ever go through an entire workday feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing? You’re not alone. Research shows that people spend nearly 47 percent of waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. Leaving work feeling this way is not healthy and does not improve your employee experience. Your employees need to experience small victories throughout the day in order to leave work feeling accomplished. Stress, combined with a heavy workload, is frustrating. Periodic breaks to practice mindfulness at work will benefit them and you.
A few effects of mindfulness:
- More efficient and focused
- More effective at communicating
- Become better at learning new skills
- Better at achieving business results
- Decreased mistakes
- Enhanced creativity
- Increased concentration
- Better memory and retention
How much time should employees spend practicing mindfulness?
If you’re worried that you’ll see a loss in productivity from promoting mindfulness at work, don’t be. Productivity will increase by practicing small increments of mindful activities throughout the workday. It doesn’t take a massive investment of time to see benefits. Employees need only one, five or 10 minutes every few hours to give their brains the reboot they need.
How can I encourage mindfulness? Arm your employees with information and encourage the practice of mindfulness at work by doing the following.
How do you promote mindfulness at work?
- Set an example. Practice mindfulness yourself.
- Provide resources that teach mindfulness techniques.
- Share mindfulness articles and research proving the benefits.
- Encourage the practice of mindfulness during the workday.
- Reinforce that mindfulness is a lifelong practice.
- Remind employees that mindful working means applying focus and awareness to everything they do from the moment they enter the office. It should happen throughout the day.
Here are 12 ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your business. Share this list with your employees.
- Practice the technique in the morning. Research has shown that we release the most stress hormones within minutes after waking, because thinking of the day ahead triggers our fight-or-flight instinct and releases cortisol into our blood. When you wake up, spend two minutes simply noticing your breath. As you begin to drift into thinking of the day ahead, try to bring yourself back to focusing on your breath. When you first get to the office (or even while you’re still sitting in your car) take 10 minutes to boost your brain before you dive into your day. Close your eyes, relax, sit upright. Focus completely on your breath. Experience your breathing and the way your chest moves. If you need help focusing on the breathing, count silently with each exhalation. Throughout the rest of the day, other people and competing urgencies will fight for your attention. But for these 10 minutes, your attention is all your own.
- Connect with your senses. It’s all about being in the present. To be mindful at work means to be consciously present in what you’re doing, as well as managing your mental and emotional state. Connect with your senses and focus on one task. I have the habit of multitasking, but I’ve made an effort to focus on one thing at a time and it has helped me very much.
- Practice mindfulness when it matters. At times of excessive pressure at work, practicing a short mindfulness exercise can be a savior. Focus on the task at hand.
- Listen to audio tracks that help guide your mindful meditation.
- Apply mindfulness when you check email. Emails seduce our attention and redirect us to lower-priority tasks because completing them releases dopamine, the pleasure hormone, in our brains. But checking email every time you get notified compromises your concentration. When opening your inbox, focus on what’s important and maintain awareness of what’s just noise. Close your email app for a few minutes a day so you’ll have uninterrupted time to focus.
- Put a small note or picture on your desk to remind yourself to be mindful.
- Use triggers. Every time the phone rings or you get a text, take a mindful breath, pause and think of your surroundings rather than immediately reacting. Pause, reflect, react (PRR).
- Apply it in meetings. Finding the day filled with back-to-back meetings? Mindfulness can help encourage shorter, more productive meetings. Be silent for the first two minutes of every meeting. Allow everyone to arrive physically and mentally. End five minutes early to give employees a mindful transition to their next meeting.
- Use mindfulness to stay alert. As you feel your brain start to tire, practice a few minutes of mindful meditation. This will keep you sharp and help you avoid bad decisions.
- Use it to decompress during your commute home. On your way home from work, turn off your phone, shut off the radio and simply be. Let go of thoughts from the day and slow down, focusing on your breath. This will help you let go of the day’s stresses so you can come home ready to be fully present with your family.
- Use mindfulness to change the way you view stress. The way we view stress directly relates to the impact it has on our bodies. Research found that those who experienced high stress levels, but who believed that stress was good for them, had the lowest mortality rates. People who were highly stressed and believed that stress was bad for their health had the highest chance of dying. This suggests that our beliefs about stress clearly affect how it impacts health. If you want to make stress your friend, change the way you think about it. Watch this talk by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal to see how your view of stress impacts your health.
How has mindfulness and meditation relieved work-related stress for you?