Mindfulness: A new approach toward better employee well-being

Woman relaxing outside

Mindfulness is a state of purposeful and open attention to the present, enabling a person to become aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and physical state, and what’s going on externally around them. This state is used to help counter the effects of stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions.I

Research shows that “investing in reflection, openness, and thoughtfulness will have a positive impact on employees and on the bottom line.” II Notably, mindfulness first became a trend in Silicon Valley, a mini-industry known for its hectic, high-tech culture. Google, for example, holds “mindful lunches,” conducted in silence except for the ringing of prayer bells, which began after a Zen Buddhist monk visited in 2011.III

Mindfulness serves as a counterweight to many of the pitfalls of our fast-paced, modern world, which often forces workers to multitask, operate against tight deadlines, and make constant decisions about priorities and next actions steps.

Why individuals (and organizations) benefit from mindfulness

But mindfulness doesn’t just help with feelings of stress; employing the art can help people to stop and think about why they’re eating donuts, drinking excessively at night, or engaging in other unhealthy behaviors.IV

Mindfulness can be used in virtually any situation and can help individuals be their best. In other words, it can become another powerful resource for boosting the overall well-being of employees. And organizations with healthier, less stressed employees have the opportunity to enhance the bottom line due to improved productivity, employee retention, and possibly even lowered healthcare claims.

Mindfulness is a trend that is continuing to grow in popularity among employers: According to one estimate, 22 percent of Fortune 500 employers have offered mindfulness programs, and that number may double in 2017.V

Craft a more mindful workplace

Humans need the occasional break to be able to reflect on what’s happening and on how they’re feeling. To help your employees perform their best both at work and home, consider how you can incorporate mindfulness into your overall health and well-being programs.

Challenge your wellness provider to bring mindfulness training to your business. Brainstorm with your wellness team to think of ways that bring the value of mindfulness to all facets of your business.

Here are some suggestions on how you can create a workplace ideal for mindful individuals:

  1. Make it a policy to build breaks into longer meetings (on all levels of an organization, including town halls).
  2. Encourage teams to institute “meeting-free” blocks in their schedules to allow them the chance to focus on one thing at a time once in a while.
  3. Offer ways for employees to learn more about and how to practice mindfulness, such as meditation classes and mindfulness technique lessons.
  4. Carve out spaces in the physical workplace whose only purpose is to help employees relax, such as meditation rooms or quiet lounges with sofas and armchairs.
  5. People don’t need to sit completely still to be mindful; provide walkable areas to allow employees to engage in mindfulness and to be more physically active at the same time.

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