6 Radical Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

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Over the last few years, mindfulness has finally been embraced in western organizations as a newer strategy and practical antidote to employee stress management, burnout and disengagement. Although mindfulness may be a newer concept to the westernized corporate world, it has been a well-known practice/way of life throughout the centuries in eastern areas of the world.

 Let’s first start by defining what Mindfulness is:  

Mindfulness means being nonjudgmentally aware of the present moment.  

In other words, mindfulness is being present in one’s momentary experience while accepting the moment as it is, rather than attaching ourselves to the thoughts and feelings we may be having about the experience.

Over the last five years, academics have started to pay more attention to the practice of mindfulness and started turning up the dial in mindfulness research. The impacts/benefits of mindfulness that have been published in academic journals to date and the data is pretty clear and unanimous – mindfulness helps people to access heightened states of inner well-being and performance.

We are seeing more organizations embracing mindfulness as a accepted/popular remedy to stress management, burnout and disengagement in the workplace. Companies like Google, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Target, Goldman Sachs, Mayo Clinic, General Mills Inc., Bank of America, Aetna Inc., Intel Corp. and more, are using mindfulness to encourage their workforces to create a more positive and harmonious work environment.  

So let’s take a look at some of the major benefits of mindfulness in the workplace:

6 Radical Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

1.    Enhanced Self-Regulation

People who practice mindfulness are less likely to be emotionally reactive. They tend to have negative feelings less regularly. A huge body of literature shows that mindful people act more intentionally and find it easier to avoid problematic behaviors.  

2.     Increased Focused Attention

When we practice mindfulness, we begin to think, feel, and act differently. We develop a heightened awareness of the present moment and are able to effectively apply ourselves to the task at hand. Because mindfulness impacts the entire body, the regulation in our breath allows the body to relax and absorb the task at hand. 

If you think about it - multi-tasking is a concept we value in the western culture. We value it so much that we teach it early on to our children – both through our behavior modeling and through encouraged self-application.  The truth about multi-tasking is that our brains cannot handle doing many tasks well at the same time. Multi-tasking has created an epidemic of adult workers who struggle to sustain focus on tasks and lack the self-discipline to stay in flow/master moments. Mindfulness allows people to increase their focused attention by practicing being completely present in whatever it is they are working on. 

3.    Elevated Creativity

Mindful individuals may be more creative, have greater insights, and hold more information in their mind at one time.  This is because of their ability to be immersed and connected in the present moment. This kind of focus allows ‘flow states’ and ‘mastery moments’ to unfold more readily and freely. Creativity and innovation occur in “the now” - when we are undistracted from the outside world and/or competing thoughts.

4. Deeper Authenticity

Mindful individuals show superior engagement and personal authenticity, with lower stress, burnout, emotional labor (e.g., faking emotions on the job – being or emoting something that is contrary to how you really feel, or being passive aggressive with others). Mindfulness allows people to experience a deeper practice of self and ones experiences of self from moment to moment.

5.    Increased Empathy for Others/Better Working Relationships

Cultivating compassion, which includes empathy, is one of the main aspects of the Buddhist traditions from which mindfulness arose. Scholars have raised the possibility that being aware of the present moment enables humans to be aware of the experiences of others – that is, to empathize with others. One possibility is that mindfulness meditation does so by increasing mindful awareness. When people become nonjudgmentally aware of the present moment, they shift their attention from being immersed in their thoughts and feelings and viewing them as fixed parts of the self, to dis-identifying with their thoughts and feelings and viewing them from a distance as floating states of the mind.

When people perceive their own thoughts and feelings as floating states of mind, they are less likely to be caught up in them, which helps them become more broadly aware of the present moment, including the possible mental states of others. 

6.    Higher Performance/Awareness in Leaders

Leaders who report being higher in mindfulness show a greater ability to satisfy the psychological needs of their subordinates, which then bolsters the subordinates’ performance and well-being.

As you can see, mindfulness promotes an array of benefits to people in the workplace. This begs the question - what organization wouldn’t like to see their employees/leaders develop heightened states of self-awareness, focused attention, creativity, authenticity, empathy for others, performance?

Mindfulness is a very simple, inexpensive solution for organizations to embrace to combat employee stress management, burnout and disengagement – a rising problem within organizations, big and small.

Reach out to me directly if your team/organization could benefit from a Mindfulness in the Workplace consultation.

Ashley Boyd