In a guest blog below, Hannah and Fiona from Yellow Tree Wellbeing share the many benefits that mindfulness can bring to business...
If you work in HR or Learning & Development, it’s likely that you’ve heard about mindfulness and its impact on wellbeing at work. Or maybe you're a leader or manager of people and you’ve tried it for yourself? There are numerous apps and books on the topic and with the current spotlight on mental health, mindfulness is everywhere.
But are you 100% clear on exactly what it is or how it can help your employees and your business?
Though mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years and has its roots in Eastern religions, meditation and yoga, its popularity in western society has grown exponentially in recent times. Advances in neuroscience are now confirming the benefits of regular mindfulness practice and beginning to look to it as a way to enhance wellbeing.
Here’s just a few of the many benefits science has confirmed:
- A self-report study in 2006 showed that anxiety, depression and irritability all decreased with regular sessions of meditation
- Office employees who participated in an eight-week mindfulness intervention experienced lower levels of work-related stress, greater job satisfaction, and, ultimately, enhanced job performance as rated by their employers
- Studies showed practising mindfulness for as little as 12 minutes a day improved the ability to resist distraction
- Regular mindfulness practices bolsters the immune system and reduces key indicators of chronic stress
The OED defines mindfulness as “The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”. Essentially it’s about being present and paying attention in the moment; being aware of ourselves, what we’re doing and our surroundings. How often do you find you’re actually thinking about one thing while doing another? Maybe you’ve rushed from one meeting to the next and are struggling to focus on the new task at hand. Any activity can be done mindfully, such as interviewing, chairing a meeting, checking spreadsheets, writing a report and so on.
Another element of mindfulness, and one of the most beneficial, is mindful meditation. This involves taking a few moments to be non-judgementally aware of our bodies and our breathing and quietening our minds. An easy way to incorporate this in the workplace is with a mindful walk at lunch time or by taking 5 minutes to sit quietly and focus on our breathing.
Richard Branson famously said that 'if you take care of your employees they will take care of your customers'. Looking after your employees' wellbeing needs to be just as important as taking care of their physical health and safety or their salary and benefits. Encouraging mindfulness through dedicated away days, training and wellbeing initiatives is a great way to do this.
Encouraging this simple practice can:
- Improve your employees mental health and in turn reduce the number of employees on long-term absence due to depression and anxiety
- Create happier, more engaged employees who perform better
- Help your employees resist distraction so that they can focus more effectively and therefore be more efficient and effective
- Reduce the number days lost to sickness or stress related illness