How could mindfulness impact your workforce?

29 July 2016

Mindfulness could be the key to less stressed, more focused employees – and with the rise of meditation apps, introducing mindful thinking in the workplace has never been easier.

Meditation app offers a range of flexible services for businesses that want to help improve staff wellbeing and motivation. Companies including Apple and Google have been reaping the rewards of meditation techniques for some time, but today these are within reach for companies of all sizes and types. Could your business also benefit from simple, straightforward mindful practices?

Mindfulness in brief

Mindfulness is about being aware of the thoughts and feelings that contribute to how we see ourselves and react to the world around us. Practiced through meditation, movement and breathing exercises, it encourages a calm, non-critical focus on the present moment. This helps people replace habitual – and often unhelpful – reactions with a more balanced, considered outlook.

Mindfulness has been linked to a range of health benefits, including lower stress levels, a stronger immune system, better sleep and lower blood pressure. Studies have even revealed positive brain changes relating to memory, sensory perception and decision-making in people who meditate long-term.

How does this translate to the workplace?

There’s evidence to suggest mindfulness can enhance creativity and innovation. A 2015 study by a cross-party group of MPs and peers linked mindfulness with lower levels of burnout among public servants, and studies in schools and prisons are also underway.

Steve Jobs was an advocate of meditation, and Apple continues to promote mindfulness. Other companies using these techniques include Deutsche Bank, Heinz, Unilever and Yahoo. Google has even built a labyrinth for walking meditations.

Introducing meditation at work

There’s a Zen proverb that says: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” While this sums up the value of meditation as our lives get more hectic, there are still benefits from shorter periods of practice. Even a three-minute breathing space can boost mental clarity and reduce stress. A short session is also a good starting point for novices.

People may be skeptical about trying meditation, or even daunted by it. And while experienced meditators might be able to practice in busy places – perhaps during their commute or at their desks – offering a quiet space can help beginners. It’s a good idea to provide chairs and cushions so people can choose a comfortable position. Attention to posture is essential; the Lotus pose isn’t!

How Headspace works

Smartphone apps are a great way to introduce simple techniques and encourage people to meditate regularly. A subscription grants access to hundreds of hours of guided and unguided meditations, ranging from two minutes to an hour. There are ‘singles’ for help with applying mindfulness to everyday activities, and a range of ‘SOS’ meditations for emotional emergencies. There are plans to introduce flexible packages for businesses that offer additional features, such as reporting tools.

Successful businesses of many sizes have long recognised the benefits of mindfulness in the work environment, including less stressed, more motivated and better-focused people. With the help of wellbeing-boosting apps and a dedicated quiet space, introducing meditation to your workforce can be simple and cost-effective.

Speak to our small business team to find out more.

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