Bringing Mindfulness to the Workplace

Bringing Mindfulness to the Workplace

Why Mindfulness?
Let’s face it, our workplaces often rank among the top nerve-wracking places to be. The majority of us spend long hours at the office with overwhelming or tedious workloads, and oftentimes we don’t get breaks.

According to Mark Williams, a Clinical Psychology Professor at the University of Oxford, working in a stressful environment can result in reduced efficiency, lower job satisfaction, and a lack of self-confidence.

That’s why many companies are embracing mindfulness training as a valuable and effective tool for the workplace.
Big corporations, including Google, Apple, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, and Deutsche Bank, and institutions, such as the Harvard Business School, have integrated mindfulness into their leadership trainings and wellness programs. Workers who have incorporated mindfulness meditation in their daily life claim it helps them to enhance their teamwork, boost creativity, and decrease their tension and anxiety.

Do You Have Any Evidence?
Stress and anxiety occur under various work conditions. However, this stress is compounded when employees don’t get the emotional support they need, such as when people receive minimal encouragement from their employers or coworkers.
According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), “80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their coworkers need such help.” Moreover, 40 percent of individuals claim they are kept awake at night thinking about stressful activities during the day.

The truth is, it’s almost impossible to avoid pressure at work. But if that pressure isn’t managed effectively, the stress it results in can take a heavy physical and emotional toll. It can even harm your health, in the long term.

In fact, The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health in the US finds that “stress-related ailments cost companies about $200 billion a year in increased absenteeism, tardiness, and the loss of talented workers.  Between 70% to 90% of employee hospital visits are linked to stress. And job tension is directly tied to a lack of productivity and loss of competitive edge.”

That’s why it’s so significant that a recent Forbes article on mindfulness in the workplace reported that Aetna’s annual healthcare costs for employees who took part in mindfulness training were, on average, $2,000 lower than those of employees who were not trained in mindfulness. That speaks to a company’s bottom line, and it’s part of the reason we’re seeing this positive shift toward mindfulness training in the workplace.

What Are the Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness at Work?
Incorporating Unified Mindfulness into the workplace can help people effectively manage stressful situations when they come up. This management of daily stress translates to a reduction in stress overall, which is an essential component of preventative health care.

Even when difficulties do arise, employees are equipped to handle them competently and skillfully, and the fallout is minimized.
With consistent mindfulness practice, all of us can cultivate tools for dealing with challenging and stressful events with greater ease, efficiency, and harmony. Growing more mindful of your own thoughts and emotions as they occur increases your options for how to handle them.

In 2007, Norman Farb at the University of Toronto performed a study that examined mindfulness from a neuroscientific point of view. His study, Mindfulness Meditation Reveals Distinct Neural Modes of Self-reference,” found that the neurological benefits associated with mindfulness are actually connected to a boost in emotional intelligence, especially self-regulation and empathy. The development of these skills plays a direct role in our capacity to handle conflicts and interact more efficiently.

As mentioned, mindfulness meditation also allows us to think of other means to solve a particular problem, instead of merely reacting to it out of habit. It decreases emotional strain and tension in our interactions at work while enhancing flexibility, ingenuity, and awareness.

So, Is It Worth It
Consistent Unified Mindfulness practice improves the mind’s capacity to heal and develop.
Companies can consider not only the savings that derive from decreased health care costs but also their responsibility to provide a work environment that motivates workers to become more skillful and competent at their job, improves their capacity for decision-making, encourages creativity and engagement, and fosters a positive, enjoyable atmosphere. Given the importance of worker engagement and retention in our ever-changing economy, it would seem that companies can’t afford not to offer mindfulness in the workplace. The research supports mindfulness as a comprehensive solution that makes sense for employers, for individual employees, and for the work environment itself.