Google, Apple and Nike seem to have got it right! The concept of mindfulness in the workplace is now mainstream and with very good reason. Mindfulness is one of the best ways to ensure employee wellbeing and prevent stress related and mental health problems in the workplace. So what exactly is the fuss all about?
Not that long ago, meditation and having a Zen way of being was reserved for hippies and those wanting to practice some kind of Eastern belief, seemingly unsuited for the business world. It seemed a taboo way of being within the office space. But now, more than ever, mental health is one of the biggest issues faced by UK employers and there is no signs of it dissipating in the near future. According to the Mental Health at Work Report 2017, three out of five (60%) employees experience mental health issues because of work. Employees are feeling more and more stressed from workplace pressures which results in poor performance and productivity. Maintaining the mental health and resilience of employees is a central tenet of employee wellbeing, especially for those employees in fast-paced, highly stressful roles. Sadly, there seems to be no shortage of reasons for today’s work related stress, which include working long hours, maintaining customer satisfaction levels, personal satisfaction expectations, work related office politics and poor company culture.
So, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is all about becoming actively aware of one’s own emotional and physical state and how these states affect the way we see and experience the world. It enables people to focus on what they experience in the moment, inside themselves as well as in their environment with an attitude of openness, curiosity and care. According to the Mental Health Foundation, mindfulness helps people recognize that they are not a slave to their thoughts which lends enormous benefits to the way employees thrive.
Who’s doing it right Google’s Chade-Meng Tan created the Search Inside Yourself course from his dream of changing the world. It’s all about enhancing excellent performance and developing the leadership and emotional intelligence skills needed to intensify focus, manage stress, harness creativity and improve resilience. Employees can now learn attention-focusing techniques, including meditation, meant to help them free up mental space for creativity and big thinking. Apple is no different. Employees of this tech giant are encouraged to take 30 minutes each day to meditate at work, providing classes on meditation and yoga on site with a state of the art meditation room. Nike’s focus on mindfulness stretches further than just their employees. They have recently teamed up with meditation app Headspace to provide mindful-guided runs where runners can reduce stress and practice mindfulness side by side.
Business benefits Over the last decade, research has shown that mindfulness can help treat anxiety and depression in the workplace, which in turn has a positive, domino effect on boosting productivity and getting the best out of your workforce. It improves decision-making and strategic thinking, boosts creativity, employee engagement and helps with decision making.
Mindfulness is indeed a working game. Despite some perceiving it as a management fad, its full potential can help improve leadership and create a happier workforce, allowing your staff to be Zen, all the time! It’s not a quick fix to solving every corporate challenge yet it fosters a way of thinking in which employees have a certain level of control in how they respond to their circumstances. There’s no harm in employers implementing measures to help improve productivity levels within their workforce.