Benefits of mindfulness in the workplace
Simply put, mindfulness is ‘present moment awareness’. It involves paying attention to what’s happening around you, and in your mind and body right now. Although the evidence is in its early stages, it’s thought that there are lots of benefits to mindfulness in the workplace.
Improve resilience and wellbeing
Mindfulness can help us to become more self-aware, in turn allowing us to understand what resilience means to us and how to develop it. Mindfulness supports us to notice the things that drain our energy, such as stress, worries or being over worked, and importantly, it gives us the opportunity to do something about it.
Mindfulness can also help us to work more skilfully with our thoughts. It allows us to recognise how they affect our feelings and, in turn, how this makes us behave. The way we act can impact those around us, so you can soon see how mindfulness can begin to have a positive effect in a working environment.
Improve working relationships
Many of us spend more of our ‘awake’ hours at work with our colleagues than we do with our loved ones. This can be difficult to comprehend at times, but if anything, it emphasises the importance of the relationships we have with those we work with. It’s thought that mindfulness can help to improve relationships at work. Positive working relationships create productive, successful teams who support each other, enjoy each other’s contributions and are able to discuss and resolve differences.
Improve your performance
Mindfulness can improve performance in many different ways. If you manage a team, it can help you to approach challenges with perspective so you can make better, more informed decisions. Mindful leaders spread mindfulness to their employees, who then also reap the benefits by having a better work-life balance and being less emotionally exhausted.
When we are mindful, the decisions we make are considered, evaluated and less likely to be swayed by what we already know and believe to be correct. We’re also more likely to step away from tasks that have used a great deal of our time and effort, but are no longer of value.
Mindfulness also helps with creativity. It teaches us to observe our thoughts without reacting to them, which over time might help us to generate ideas. It can prevent us from becoming distracted when creativity strikes and also encourages us to think flexibly – breaking the mould and challenging tradition.
Tips to create a more mindful workplace
Here are my top tips for creating a more mindful workplace.
- If your meetings lend themselves to it, leave all phones, laptops and tablets outside. This can help to improve focus by minimising distractions.
- Say ‘no’ to notifications – you’ll be less distracted and more able to focus on the task in hand.
- Lead by example. If you’re a manager, be careful of how your behaviour can give an unintentional message to your staff. If you’re emailing before or after working hours, your employees may feel as though they should too.
- De clutter your desk. Only keep what you need and put things away after you have used them. Leave your desk tidy for the next day – you’ll feel less overwhelmed if you start each day with a clear desk.
- Put as much effort into compliments as complaints. Perhaps have a compliments jar. If you have a day which is overwhelming – perhaps there’s a stressful deadline approaching – remind yourself and your team what you do well by reading out some of the entries.
- Schedule time in your diary for yourself. Check in with yourself; what are you thinking or feeling? Make sure that your workplace has a room to do this that is inviting, quiet and away from the main work space.
- Take mini moments as well as longer breaks eg for lunch. If possible, set up gentle reminders every hour to move, stretch, have a drink, take a minute away from the desk, or just breathe.
- Keep talking. If you’re a manager, encourage open conversations around how people are feeling and make sure information on wellbeing is accessible to your employees.
Breaking through barriers
Introducing anything new can be a hard task. You may need to challenge misconceptions to help get your team or workforce on-board. The Mindfulness Initiative has a report on building the case for mindfulness in the workplace, with a section on dealing with common myths. If you’re thinking of introducing mindfulness to your work place, take a look.