An HR Guide to Mindfulness at Work

According to a ‘Health at Work’ survey, about 80% of the employees reported being stressed at work and need help to manage it. An effective solution to this is Mindfulness at work. More and more organizations across the globe are now focusing on and promoting mindfulness at the workplace.

What is Mindfulness?


Simply put, mindfulness is being aware, paying attention to the present moment and refraining from judging. This concept has its roots in Buddhist literature and helps in establishing a heightened sense of awareness about oneself and the environment around.
 
From Google to General Mills to NHS; many organizations are preaching and practicing mindfulness at work. Harvard School of Business has even included mindfulness principles in its curriculum for the leadership programs. The importance of mindfulness has only grown due to the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic and the consequent remote working.


What are the Benefits of Mindfulness for Organizations?


Practicing mindfulness provides benefits not only for individual employees, but has a positive impact on the entire workplace.
 
Here is why mindfulness should be practiced at the workplace:

 
1. Improves Overall Employee Wellbeing
 
Organizations are focusing and investing more and more into the wellbeing of the employees, taking into consideration the increased costs of an unhealthy workforce. These costs can range from poor productivity, high absenteeism, and even high turnover. Organizations are therefore offering mindfulness training to enable the employees respond positively in difficult situations and not become victims of burnout, work stress and appraisal issues.
 
 
2. Reduces Stress Levels
 
Mindfulness at work helps in reducing stress, which is a dominant cause of employee disengagement and low productivity. To combat this, prominent companies such as Google, Goldman Sachs, Adobe, Mayo Clinic etc. have launched mindfulness programs that promote employee engagement and stress reduction.
 
 
3. Fosters Better Relationships with Coworkers
 
The cornerstone for employee happiness is the healthy working relationship among peers. This is particularly important at this time of hybrid working which is full of stress for the employees and their supervisors as well.
 
 
4. Improves Learnability and Innovation
 
Employees can open their minds to absorb new information by taking a break from critical thinking or problem solving. Organizations are now offering mandatory leaves to avoid employees dealing with excessive stress and a stagnant level of thinking.
 


How can Organizations Promote Mindfulness?


Here are a few ways how organizations can promote the practice mindfulness at work:


1. Communicate Effectively  to Build Awareness

Organizations should run online and offline campaigns to build awareness about practicing mindfulness and communicate its benefits clearly. These campaigns should be designed thoughtfully with images, videos and infographics.  

Digital platforms such as emails, intranet, Teams/ Slack channels, WhatsApp groups, etc. should be used effectively to communicate the importance of mindfulness. This can be supplemented by posters, standees, tent cards, LED displays, etc. to reinforce the message  for employees working from office.


2. Conduct Online/ Offline Workshops
 
The organization should enlist the services of experts to train employees in the practice of mindfulness. Celebrity trainers can also be roped in, if budgets permit, to generate higher level of interest among the employees.
 
These training sessions can be conducted virtually over video conferencing platforms for the benefit of those employees who are working from home. Recordings of these sessions can be made available on the intranet or on the employee wellness portal, if there is one.
 
Offline sessions can be conducted for in-office employees with the necessary Covid-related precautions.
 

3. Identify Champions and Share their Success Stories  

Employees who show high level of interest and involvement in the practice of mindfulness should be roped in as champions or ambassadors. They should be encouraged to share their success stories on various digital platforms within the organization. Such positive experiences are likely to inspire other employees to start practicing mindfulness as well.
 
 
4. Involve the Top Management
 
It is best to start at the top by roping in the top management to practice and preach mindfulness. This can be initiated by conducting personalized sessions for them by mindfulness coaches/ experts.
 
The top management should not just practice mindfulness themselves but also promote it within the workforce in every possible forum. They should share their personal experiences and the benefits that they have received.

 
5. Bring Changes in the Meeting Culture

Meetings can be a great source of stress, anxiety and restlessness for employees. Organizations should aim to increase the productivity of internal meetings by making them shorter, time-bound, agenda-driven and limited only to participants who can add value to the meeting.

Best practices such as communicating the meeting agenda clearly well in advance, keeping the discussion focused and to the point, and circulating the action items post meeting can be really helpful.

Managers and team leaders can be coached to manage meetings effectively and turn them into ideal forums to practice mindfulness.
 

Mindfulness at work is an effective way to create a low stress, highly productive and positive work environment. Given its benefits, organizations need to effectively promote its practice among the workforce.

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