While no-one wants to suffer from stress and burnout, the reality is that if you don’t take care of your mind, it may begin to take a toll on your work and workplace relationships.
A tool which has proven useful in promoting a healthier working place is mindfulness, and it is something that is gaining momentum to get the best out of employees.
Absolutely Corporate Director Beata Steiner said mindfulness in the workplace could promote a more peaceful and collaborative team environment.
“Workplace mindfulness will create collaborative, resilient and dynamic work environments, which will lead to increased productivity, clear decision-making and innovative leadership,” she said.
Whether the company is large or small, they are seeing improved results through practising mindfulness, according to Ms Steiner.
“Research into companies like Google, Aetna and Intel show that increasing mindfulness in the workplace can decrease stress levels while improving focus, thoughtfulness, decision-making abilities and overall wellbeing,” she said.
Mindfulness in leadership
Bestselling writer and meditation teacher, Mindful Safari Founder David Michie said the organisations that really benefited from mindfulness were the ones with it ingrained in its workplace culture.
“People need to see their organisation’s leaders embracing mindfulness and those behaving mindfully,” he said.
“If the boss who advocates mindfulness is a stress-head with anger management issues or is constantly distracted and oblivious to what people are trying to communicate, people see the lack of authenticity for what it is and are unlikely to embrace mindfulness.”
Ms Steiner said bringing mindfulness into the workplace was never one size fits all.
She said it was about encouraging a peaceful environment, starting with the managers.
“Managers who model and promote mindful practices with their team create an environment of engagement,” Ms Steiner said.
“Practising mindfulness will increase the ability to listen and accept multiple perspectives, which will lead to better collaboration, creating harmonious relationships and improving performance.”
Mindfulness in the workplace
According to Mr Michie, the power of the mind is never more noticeable than when we are at work – it is part of the job in every way, so it is important to take care of our biggest tool.
“Most people aren’t employed for their good looks, they are employed for their minds,” he said.
“It’s curious how little focus has been placed on the importance of ensuring that people’s minds are in optimal shape, until recently.
“Traditionally, in the Western world, there has been a disinclination to think of mind training in the way we easily accept the idea of physical training.
“However, this has begun to change over the past 20 years, as the weight of evidence shows that minds – just like bodies – respond to self-discipline and focus.”
Ms Steiner agreed that practising mindfulness is something which is more readily acceptable than it once was in the workforce.
“Mindfulness in a workplace is becoming more and more popular,” she said.
“We are asked by companies to provide mindfulness meditation sessions, yoga classes and mindfulness workshops.”
Benefits of mindfulness at work
Mr Michie said mindfulness was a wonderful tool to help gain a deeper understanding of workplace relationships and to become more in tune with our thoughts.
“Regular mind training helps us recognise that thoughts are mere thoughts, not facts or truths,” he said.
“Thoughts arise, abide and pass in our minds constantly.
“When we are reminded daily about this, we get better at not attaching too much importance to them, especially to negative thoughts about what’s happening and our workplaces colleagues.
“We become more tolerant and relaxed about people who might otherwise wind us up – we may even be able to appreciate their positive qualities.”
Ms Steiner said employees who learnt key mindfulness techniques, which could prevent conflict, were more willing to engage and help their colleagues.
“Compassionate, friendly and supportive co-workers tend to build quality relationships with others at work,” she said.
“Being able to stay calm and rapidly adapt to shifting circumstances with an open and calm mind is, and will continue to be, a competitive advantage.”
Utilising these tools encourages healthier workplace relationships by understanding the emotions and motivations of their peers, according to Ms Steiner.
“Employees who practise being mindful are therefore more likely to show greater acceptance of colleagues without reactivity,” she said.
“Positive workplace relationships can have a significant impact, they buffer the effects of workplace stressors, promote thriving employees and foster communication.
“When people see the success of working together in this way, group morale and productivity soars.”