Why are leading organizations — from tech giants like Google to traditional institutions like the United States Marine Corps — incorporating mindfulness into their workforce health strategies? Because it’s a simple, effective tool for managing stress, enhancing engagement, and promoting a culture of wellness at work.
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Tap into the power of mindfulness to enhance workforce well-beingPosted: December 19, 2019 by Amy Arnold, MS, HC, CHES, RYT 200
What mindfulness means — and why it matters
Mindfulness is simple. At its core, it’s a concentrated effort to be fully present in the moment in a nonjudgmental way, without dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It can train the brain to be more focused, efficient, and better at managing stress — which is especially valuable in the workplace, where mental strain can skyrocket.
Research also suggests that practicing mindfulness brings physiological benefits, including better sleep and an improved ability to cope with pain. A 2018 study at Harvard even found that the simple act of clearing the mind for 15 minutes a day helps reduce blood pressure.1
A stress management skill anyone can master
It’s no surprise that stress is the number one workforce health concern for U.S. employers.2 Health care costs are nearly 50% higher for chronically stressed employees — and highly stressed workers miss more than twice as many days as their less stressed peers.3,4
Mindfulness is by no means a silver bullet — but it is a simple and effective stress management tool that can be practiced anytime, anywhere. And in addition to helping employees manage stress in the moment, it can help them become more resilient to negative effects of stress in the future.
Mindfulness in action
Good things happen when mindfulness becomes embedded in workforce culture:
Enhanced productivity and focus — Mindfulness is the perfect counterbalance to information overload, constant distractions, and competing demands in the workplace. And working mindfully is essentially the opposite of multitasking — which reduces productivity by as much as 40%.5
Openness to innovation — Mindfulness enhances creativity. It can encourage employees to explore new ideas, and help them find clever solutions to problems. Mindful employees are also more resilient to setbacks and criticism.
Healthier work relationships — One hallmark of a mindful employee is their ability to regulate emotions and display empathy for others — creating a more positive work environment for everyone.
Start putting mindfulness to work
Mindfulness is easy to teach and simple to practice. As Kathy Gerwig, vice president of employee safety, health, and wellness at Kaiser Permanente explains, “Employers of any size can create a plan based on an assessment of employee needs, and then structure their programs to fit available resources.” Here are some practical ways to bring mindfulness into the workplace:
- Create time and space. A designated quiet zone is a great place to start. In a space they can use however and whenever they want, even skeptical employees might be open to giving mindfulness a try.
- Bring mindfulness to meetings. Begin with a collective pause to take a deep breath and focus. It’s a simple way to help everyone be fully present in the meeting — and embed mindfulness into day-to-day work culture.
- Tap into digital solutions. There are lots of apps and programs that make mindfulness easy and accessible for beginners, and many offer special rates and packages for employer groups.
- Lead by example. Promoting mindfulness from the top down demonstrates that the bosses walk the talk — and it can also make you a better leader. 80% of senior executives at General Mills who took a mindfulness course said it helped them make better decisions, and 89% said they became better listeners.6
Mindfulness as part of your workplace wellness strategy
Research about the true benefits of organization-wide mindfulness is still in its infancy. But for many business leaders, it’s already proven to be a simple, affordable, and effective workplace wellness initiative. It’s certainly worth exploring — as one more way you can foster a resilient, mentally healthy workforce.
Richard Knox, “Harvard Study: Clearing Your Mind Affects Your Genes and Can Lower Your Blood Pressure,” NPR News’ WBUR
CommonHealth, April 6, 2018.
“Seventy-five Percent of U.S. Employers Say Stress is Their Number One Workplace Health Concern,” Willis Towers Watson press release, June 29, 2016.
“Stress at Work,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov, accessed May 29, 2019.
David McNeice, “Is Workplace Stress Affecting Your Company’s Bottom Line?” willistowerswatson.com, July 26, 2016.
Tim Newman, “Multitasking Brain Mechanisms Examined,” MedicalNewsToday.org, June 23, 2017.
David Gelles, “The Mind Business,” Financial Times, August 24, 2012.
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