The benefits of mindfulness in the workplace

Guest post by Angela Allan.

Mindfulness is the new buzz word when it comes to increasing productivity, emotional intelligence and creativity, and reducing stress in the workplace.

Essentially, mindfulness is the practice of “being consciously present”, and can be achieved through meditation, yoga, coloring books or even breathing exercises. It’s being championed in organizations as it encourages employees to be fully present and allow the brain to reset, so emotions don’t come into play when engaging in crucial business decisions.

Mindfulness matters

A study from Leiden University found specific meditation techniques can promote creative thinking, and other studies show that 15 minutes of mindful-based meditation can help with making rational business decisions.

According to a 2015 study by Gloria Mark, a professor in the department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, workers check their email 74 times a day on average, taking about 60 seconds to refocus after an interruption. With a somewhat endless stream of notifications and distractions, it’s easy for employees to lose focus and feel overwhelmed. This is where mindfulness can help –  by abating a constantly busy mind.

Manage your working mind

Companies in Silicon Valley were among the first to see the advantage of various mindfulness practices. Google offers meditation classes, designed to teach employees to manage their emotions, as part of an internal course called Search Inside Yourself. The method is now available to other businesses at its own institute. This isn’t unique to Google; Facebook and Twitter both adopted in-office meditation sessions and arrange work practices that promote mindfulness.

Then there’s health-care company Aetna, which measured the success of its mindfulness program. Employees reported that, on average, they gained 62 minutes of productivity per week, which Aetna estimates is worth $3,000 per employee per year.

Across the Pacific, law firm Seyfarth Shaw opened a meditation room for its staff in Melbourne, Australia, and Sydney recruitment company Precision Sourcing encourages employees to relieve stress through coloring books for adults.

Take a deep breath – and take the plunge

Organisations can adopt mindfulness practices and reap the benefits, as long as these points are considered when devising a program:

  1. What kind of mindfulness practice will you introduce? Consider which platform will suit your employees and workplace. Try an app-based approach, such as Headspace, or opt for instructor-based classes.
  2. How will it be included in the workplace? You could consider it as part of employee development or training programs.
  3. What do you want to achieve with mindfulness? Set a goal, like productivity, and determine ways to measure it.

Whether businesses are looking to increase creativity or reduce stress in the workforce, mindfulness could be the answer.

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