How to bring Mindfulness into Workplaces
Article By – Manish Behl Published in Times of India
Have you ever felt that you are not able to concentrate? Do you feel there is an information overload with excessive data at disposal? Is there a blurring of lines between personal and professional life? Then you are an “Overwhelmed employee”.
It has been found that employees are in “hyperemployment” where they are constantly tethered to their gadgets, checking emails and social media leading to a constantly distracted brain, less focus on the work at hand eventually leading to decline in productivity, performance and overall well-being.
The American Psychological Association in a recent workplace survey found that being burnout and stressed are at all-time highs across professions. The US economy loses an average of $300 billion annually due to workplace stress. Latest research report by Zippa says 89% of workers have experienced burnout within the past year and 70% of professionals feel that employers aren’t doing enough.
This becomes one of the biggest challenges for organizations – Building a happier, healthier and a thriving workplace. One of the important elements responsible for this is building the mental health of employees, which plays an immense role in their creativity, productivity, performance, leadership style and well-being.
Thanks to active research on Mindfulness, researchers have found practicing Mindfulness eases the mind, increases focus and concentration, reduces stress and anxiety, stops burnout and improves overall well-being. It also improves listening skills, decision-making skills, boosts relationships and engagement by increasing empathy and compassion.
That’s why tech innovators and conglomerates like Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, EY, SAP, Aetna, General Mills, Novartis and others have turned towards Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence. Over the years, they have actively woven mindfulness in their leadership style and organizational culture, starting from stand-alone workshops many years ago.
In 2018 and 2019 at Asia’s biggest Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence and Neuroscience Summit known as Mindfulness India Summit, held in Mumbai, researchers and scholars explained that how by cultivating a greater awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, we can learn to respond to challenging situations with greater clarity, resilience and creativity. Whether applied to personal or professional pursuits, mindfulness can enhance our ability to navigate the uncertainties and complexities of life with greater confidence, creativity, and purpose.
What is Mindfulness and how it can help
Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, without judgment, which helps to stay calm and focused, even in high-pressure situations. It improves emotional regulation, where leaders and employees respond to challenges in a more effective way.
- Regular practice of mindfulness can create a more positive work environment.
- Like any good habit, it takes time and effort to build mindfulness.
Let me ask you what you do to maintain your oral hygiene. You build a habit of brushing your teeth at least once or twice daily.
Similarly mindfulness needs constant practice and regular interventions can positively benefit the organization, its leaders and employees both at individual and collective levels, provided they have the right understanding, proper guidance and deep commitment to invest time, effort and resources into it.
Here are a few ways an organization can bring Mindfulness in their day-to-day program.
1. Lead by example: Leadership roles can be stressful, and practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress levels and prevent burnout. This, in turn, can improve overall job satisfaction and productivity. So start with the leadership team first to adopt and practice mindfulness. This would set an example and encourage others to follow.
2. Create awareness: Educate employees on the benefits of mindfulness and how it can positively impact their work and personal lives. Conduct introductory workshops, seminars, training sessions or one-on-one coaching to create awareness. Partner with professional institutes for a long-term mindfulness training program.
3. Weave it into your culture: Create a culture where everyone can benefit from the practice. Incorporate it into your mission statement or core values. Let everyone know that mental well-being is a priority for organization. This will help to create a more positive and healthy work culture. Share tips or practices in your company newsletters or emails, this will encourage employees to learn and practice mindfulness.
4. Create green spaces: If possible, create a room or create an area in your office where employees can meditate or practice mindfulness exercises during breaks. Try keeping this place more open, green and ventilated.
5. Start no gadget hour : Designate an hour where employees take a break from any kind of screens or gadgets and they get involved in activities such as reading, taking a walk, or talking to co-workers. It will allow them to break from distractions and will give their brain a chance to rest, recharge and reconnect at human level.
6. Encourage mindful communication by asking employees to pause and take a breath, this will allow them to be aware and to speak with compassion during team meetings and one-on-one interactions. Start practice of mindfulness moments before meetings.
7. Identify and train champions: Identify individuals who are interested and motivated to learn and practice mindfulness. Provide them with additional trainer training and support them to become mindfulness champions for your organization.
8. Practice Gratitude : encourage employees to express gratitude by writing thank-you notes, sharing positive experiences, and acknowledging their accomplishments. This can help foster a positive work environment and improve employee morale.
9.Encourage mindful breaks: Encourage employees to take short mindfulness breaks throughout the day to reduce stress and increase concentration.
10. Build More focus: Start each workday with a brief mindfulness exercise that allows employees to set goals and intentions for the day. This practice can help employees stay focused and motivated throughout the day.
11. Offer mindful stress reduction programs: Provide employees with access to stress reduction programs that incorporate mindfulness practices.
12. Host regular mindfulness events or retreats: Organize mindfulness events or retreats for employees, invite speakers and champions from other departments or organizations to enhance employees mindfulness practice and connect with other like-minded professionals and colleagues.
I feel mindfulness would equally benefit organizations and its employees. In fact it plays a significant role in preventing and managing workplace stress and ensuring a healthy work environment for all the stakeholders. You would see that the impact will not be restricted to the organization or its employees but the benefit will spread into the wider communities, families and society.
Manish Behl, Mindfulness Teacher and founder of Mindfulness India Summit and Mindful Science Centre
Manish Behl is a world renowned Mindfulness, Emotional intelligence, meditation and Leadership expert, who helps leaders and organizations foster wisdom and well-being through Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence and Neuroscience. He is the visionary founder of Mindfulness India Summit, Asia’s largest mindfulness and emotional intelligence summit, and Mindful Science Centre a mindfulness research, development and training institute.
He is ICF PCC coach with his 25 years of successful leadership experience as CEO of various leading multinational companies, he brings a unique blend of practical and experiential knowledge to his mindfulness workshops and leadership coaching.
He offers practical strategies for leadership transformation, which enhances leadership skills, increase performance, transform anxiety and negativity into calm and focus. He is also a TEDx speaker, a neuroscience enthusiast and a conscious thinker who inspires and empowers people to live their best lives. His workshops, talks and coaching facilitate physical and mental wellbeing, cultivate inner peace and fuels purpose and motivation.
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