The Big Reasons to Bring Mindfulness to the Work Place
Take a moment to think about this question:
What do the following companies all have in common?
- General Mills
- Goldman Sachs
Yes, they’re all huge names in the business world, but there is another link that pulls them together: they all offer mindfulness trainings to their employees.
Practicing mindfulness may take many different forms, but it often involves using an anchor – most commonly your breath – to center your attention and focus your thoughts on the present moment. By learning to “be present” rather than distracted and rushed, one can bring greater awareness to the situation and respond less reactively or automatically.
Where once mindfulness was a practice reserved for Buddhist monks and yoga practitioners, mindfulness has now become mainstream. In fact, the market for meditation and mindfulness is booming, with a current market of $1.1 billion dollars and $100 million in growth from 2016 – 2017 alone. More importantly, mindfulness practices, including meditation, present moment awareness and the use of “pause practices” during the course of a busy day are becoming recognized as strategies for coping with the relentless stresses and fast pace of modern work.
Mindfulness is gaining momentum as a method for supporting employee well-being, resilience and performance. According to a 2016 study conducted by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) and Fidelity Investments, 22% of companies have mindfulness training programs already in place, and another 21% planned to add a mindfulness training component in 2017.
In the last few years, the science behind incorporating mindfulness into an organization has been impressive. According to a UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School study, a few of the key benefits of mindfulness in the workplace are:
- Reduced employee absenteeism and turnover
- Improved cognitive functions (i.e., concentration, memory, and learning ability)
- Increased employee productivity
- Enhanced employer/employee and client relationships
- Improved job satisfaction
In a different study from the NIH, neuroscience research shows us that practicing mindfulness lessens activity in our amygdala and increases the connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, helping us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress. Practicing mindfulness increases resiliency and may even improve empathy and the ability to act with compassion.
At Nebo, we often incorporate the science behind and the practice of mindfulness in our leadership programs and executive coaching. We are working with a number of companies that are providing opportunities to learn how to meditate and use mindfulness practices to their employees. Our clients are asking for more on how and why to do this.
Here are some quick tips on how to practice mindfulness at work:
- Do a quick centering exercise.
- Take five slow, deep breaths.
- Take a short walk, free from other distractions.
- Take technology breaks.
- Practice meditation whilst doing other tasks, like drinking your coffee or washing a dish.
The big names in business, the numbers, and the science support the power of mindfulness practice. So, what are you waiting for? Take a second, close your eyes, take a deep breath, bring your attention to your breath — and boom! You’re beginning to practice mindfulness.
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness in the workplace, listen to this podcast with Marc Lesser, CEO of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and Nebo’s CEO, Kate Ebner, or contact us!