Mindfulness in the workplace has grown in popularity in the business and scientific communities because of its ability to bring awareness to the present moment and increase employees’ wellbeing at work.
The concept of mindfulness, which stems from the early teachings of Buddha, improves mental function and can result in a greater perception of happiness, according to The American Psychological Association. Increased employee happiness is crucial since nearly one-third of employees seriously consider leaving their jobs when they’re not happy.
The absence of mindfulness in the workplace can lead to information overload and anxiety, decreased employee engagement, and a reduction in overall task accuracy. Skip to our infographic to learn how to promote mindfulness at work or keep reading to explore the top benefits of a mindful workplace.
Top 8 Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace
- Greater Employee Focus
- Improved Productivity
- Higher Job Satisfaction
- Better Decision Making
- Lower Healthcare Costs
- Reduced Stress
- Improved Employee Relationships
- Decreased Turnover
Mindfulness is focused awareness, teaching concentration on a single task. This leads to greater employee success and accuracy overall. Research conducted by Pew notates that in the workplace “we have less focus – too much multitasking – and not enough real connection.” By eliminating distraction, mindfulness leads to improved cognitive function and memory.
Waterloo Ph.D. Candidate and researcher, Mengran Xu, discovered that mind wandering accounts for half of our daily stream of consciousness. By developing awareness, she discovered that, of the two control groups, the ones who practiced meditation were able to shift mindfulness from internal dilemmas to the external task at hand.
Experiencing gratefulness, a common effect of those who practice mindfulness, improves job task accuracy and overall productivity with creative problem-solving. This effect is most notably caused by no longer thinking about macro-level goals, but the current assignment.
A study conducted by Michael Mrazek, director of research at the University of California’s Center for Mindfulness & Human Potential, notes a “broad enhancement of performance.” The study goes on to explain a better overall reading comprehension with mindfulness. The improvement is likely due to the increased function of the prefrontal cortex, which has been linked to attention control.
There are plenty of reasons why good employees churn, many of which could be improved with an increased sense of job satisfaction. Zapier reports a 54% higher sense of happiness at work by employing techniques to be mindful. Those who are consciously cognizant tend to feel less overworked and unappreciated—key reasons for employee churn.
Mindfulness improves the ability to cope in stressful situations. The decrease in emotional reactivity results in calm, clear work. By regulating these emotions and reactions, employees may experience better overall physical function and improved long-term decision-making skills.
Zapier found that mindful employees took 71% fewer sick days due to mental health. Improved attendance can be attributed to better sleep from a greater sense of overall relaxation. A focus on physical fitness can have a direct impact on lowering the risk of chronic diseases, lowering the overall cost of healthcare programs for your business.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a medical emeritus professor, was the first to coin mindfulness-based stress reduction practices (MBSR), which include focused awareness in the breath, the body, and various forms of meditation. Today, Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR practices have been successfully implemented in companies such as Apple and Google.
Mindfulness can have a direct impact on coworker relationships. Publications like Forbes cite the reduction in age and race biases when these techniques are practiced. Further, a Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management study gives a nod to lower levels of cases of sexual harassment and antisocial behavior. Overall, mindfulness shows an 80% improvement in employee relationships, according to Zapier.
Burnout is a common cause of employee turnover, which is significantly reduced when we are no longer in a perpetual state of receiving and processing information. Research shows that there is a correlation between mindfulness and turnover, increasing employee retention for companies with mindful practices in place.
How to Encourage Mindfulness at Work
As a small business owner, encouraging mindfulness in the workplace is essential for these lasting benefits to take effect. Although mindfulness is a highly self-regulated process, the following strategies can encourage mindfulness in the workplace.
Create Mental Health Programs
Employees with the ability to address and process emotion is a successful function of mindfulness. Highlight mental health programs within existing healthcare plans, and encourage utilization to give employees the opportunity to acknowledge these sentiments.
Successful mental health program in the workplace: Netflix allows mental health breaks and a non-traditional 9–5 workday.
Advocate for Breaks
Breaks throughout the workday allow the mind to reset. Oftentimes, the solution to a problem will occur to an individual after stepping away from the obstacle and giving the mind a break. Inspire employees to refocus by advocating for the use of allotted time off.
Encouraged breaks in the workplace: Twitter gives its employees unlimited paid time off.
Encourage Physical Fitness
Physical fitness can be a form of meditation, the crux of mindfulness. Foster workplace activity with an onsite gym, compensation for a fitness membership, or suggested breaks during the day for a brisk walk or stretching.
Physical fitness in the workplace: Tough Mudder provides walking desks and on-site showers for employees who commute on foot or by bike.
Employee mindfulness studies point to an increased engagement of happy employees. By employing mindfulness techniques in the workplace, companies can reap the benefits of a productive team, a higher level of focus, positive company culture, reduced turnover, and higher overall job satisfaction.
Sources: Social Market Foundation | Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management | HBR 1, 2, 3 | Mercer | Gallup | Salesforce | Safe Work Australia | Fundera | American Psychological Association | Sage Journals | Psychological Science | CDC | Science Advances