Published at 2020, February 6th
Over the last years, the practice of mindfulness and meditation, already known in the Eastern world for many decades, became increasingly mainstream in Western society. In fact, a 2018 (US) National Health Interview Survey showed significant increases (between 5-10%) over the last 5 years in the number of American adults and children practicing yoga and meditation.
According to MarketWatch, by the end of 2018, self-care and mindfulness apps like Headspace, 10% Happier or Calm topped Apple’s 2018 trends list. The benefits of practicing mindfulness are commonly framed under a perspective of the personal value it can add to one’s health, well-being or productivity.
Nonetheless, research on the practice of mindfulness at the workplace shows it can have real benefits for businesses too. Apparently, mindfulness meditation is a benefit that pays out real returns in the long term. An example of this is Aetna, the giant insurance company that claims to have saved around 2 thousand dollars in employee health care expenses and in productivity improvements thanks to mindfulness. Other large companies such as Google or Fidelity Investments also provide consistent mindfulness packages to their employees.
As the stigma that mindfulness and meditation are religious, “shanti-shanti” or ineffective practices vanishes away, all kinds of different people, including entrepreneurs and corporates, are starting to adopt this secular practice. But what benefits can mindfulness meditation bring to the workplace after all?
What Are The Benefits Of Mindfulness At The Workplace?
Mindfulness carries several benefits that can be useful across different situations and environments. Below we highlight 5 positive impacts that mindfulness meditation can have at the workplace.
1. With Mindfulness, Stress And Anxiety Decrease While Attention And Focus Are Improved
Nowadays, we can be online and connected 24/7. Despite all the benefits of technology, being constantly distracted by notifications in our smartphones, smartwatches or laptops has its cons too. Add familiar responsibilities, one’s personal challenges and the pressure to deliver increasingly faster, better and more creatively at work. It can be exhausting – and, if experienced for long periods, it can even lead to burnout and depression.
Mindfulness has the potential to counterbalance this state – with several studies showing its ability to reduce stress and build resilience. And if we are speaking of team leaders practicing mindfulness, a study from Singapore Management University has shown their direct reports can also experience less emotional exhaustion.
In the end, the science behind it is that mindfulness, as a calm practice where one gets more aware of their feelings and emotions, makes it easier to identify where problems lie, how to deal with them better and ultimately, how to solve them. With mindfulness, it also becomes easier to set priorities and regulate one’s work. Focusing on current tasks and one’s workflow without getting distracted by coworkers is a side effect of a regular practice of mindfulness meditation.
2. Mindfulness At The Office Can Boost Creativity And Innovation
Once stress and anxiety, that leave our bodies producing “survival mode” hormones, are diminished by the calm that deep breathing and focus bring, research shows great things can take place at the human brain.
As the pressures of work become lighter, feel more manageable and less chaotic, the ability to start thinking outside the box is displayed. Often times, great answers aren’t that complex and all one needs is a clear mind and clear sight. In this way, thanks to the tranquility mindfulness brings, finding innovative solutions to complex challenges – often required in today’s fast-changing tech reality – becomes easier.
According to a study by Colzato et al. (2014), some meditations promote divergent thinking – a style of thinking that allows many new ideas to be generated. Hence, attention-based meditations tend to support the process of generating one possible solution to a particular problem (convergent thinking).
3. Mindfulness Means Making Better Personal And Professional Decisions
Mindfulness leaves us more emotionally-balanced, which leads to less a more open, less reactive mind and behaviors. As a consequence, better decision making and greater emotional intelligence levels can be expected.
The odds that one reacts by an impulse to apparently negative situations become smaller. On the other hand, the focus on what’s under the control of oneself is likely to increase. The same is true regarding the ability to see the bigger picture instead of getting stuck on often insignificant details.
4. Mindfulness Meditation Leads To Well-Being And To Greater Productivity
One of the most commonly known benefits of mindfulness meditation is its benefits on human health and well-being. For businesses, this doesn’t mean only a happier workplace. It means also a less absent workforce that is sick less often and, as a result, can be more consistent more productive.
5. Mindfulness Is A Powerful Employer Branding Tool To Recruit Top Talent
The better and the rarer something or someone is, the more valuable it becomes. In a very competitive labor market, especially when it comes to certain jobs that need tech or engineering skills, the more important it is for companies to be and to look attractive.
The fact is that people are increasingly aware of the benefits of mindfulness we’ve just discussed. And chances are they would prefer to work for a business that invests in the well-being and professional success of its employees than for one that does not.
An Overview Of The Benefits Of Mindfulness At The Workplace
Mindfulness looks like an investment that pays out – from a business perspective, evidently. It has the potential to lead workers to make better decisions, be more creative and stay focused. Together with an improved employer branding – it seems to be worth the expense of allowing workers to take some time throughout their day to contemplate the present moment or even to attend sponsored meditation sessions.
Shifting from the investment lens to a CSR perspective, providing and encouraging employees to work on their well-being and productivity surely looks like the right thing to do.
Despite all the pros, it is still important to keep in mind that mindfulness meditation is not a one-size-fits-and-serves-all medicine. Organizations and the people that make them up will still face unexpected challenges and go over hard times. What can be expected is that overcoming them becomes an easier thing to do by following a clearer, more balanced path mindfulness may help find.
[Image credits to relaxed on Shutterstock]