Even though workplace stress has always been around, recently, many employers have taken steps to manage or mitigate stress. One popular method of alleviating stress and working smarter is the practice of mindfulness. Although the term mindfulness is often associated with yoga or martial arts, the practice simply involves being in the moment and consciously aware of what is going on around you. The practice works, because it encourages you to focus on the present rather than letting your mind wander. Many of the world’s top companies encourage mindfulness in the workplace, because it can help employees stay more focused and reduce stress.
Incorporate It As Part Of A Wellness Program
One popular aspect of yoga is that it teaches practitioners to focus on their breath and be in the moment. If your company has a wellness program, try offering yoga classes employees can take on breaks, or see if there is a studio in town that offers corporate discounts. Like meditation, yoga is an effective and enjoyable way for employees to practice mindfulness. Having your employees learn mindfulness in a structured setting can help them incorporate it into their work lives.
Embolden Your Employees To Be Less Responsive
A common source of distraction for employees is email. When employees feel pressured to respond to emails the second they are received, they often take longer to complete other projects. A blog post posted on Mindfulness.org titled “10 Ways to Be More Mindful at Work” discusses why this multitasking hurts performance: “In reality, your brain is madly switching from one thing to the next, often losing data in the process. Most people know multitasking is ineffective nowadays.” Expecting your employees to respond to email requests immediately shifts their focus from projects to emails. Encourage them to set aside time for answering emails at the beginning, middle and end of the day in blocks, so they can spend more time focused on projects.
Let Employees Learn From Each Other
When your employees participate in mindfulness programs, or practice it themselves, they can serve as strong motivators for others. If any of your employees are currently practicing mindfulness, ask them to share their successes and techniques with others. If no one in your company is practicing mindfulness, share success stories from top companies. A Harvard Business Review article titled “Why Google, Target, and General Mills Are Investing In Mindfulness” shares the motivation behind mindfulness programs at Google. “Google believes that these mindfulness programs teach emotional intelligence, which helps people better understand their colleagues’ motivations. They also boost resilience to stress and improve mental focus. Participants of the ‘Search Inside Yourself’ program report being calmer, more patient, and better able to listen.”
Communicate The Health Benefits Of Mindfulness
The American Psychological Association published results of studies showcasing the benefits of mindfulness in a blog post titled “What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?” It included studies on mindfulness and its affect on patients with anxiety. The study found that mindfulness-based therapy can help alter affective and cognitive processes that underlie multiple clinical issues. By reducing stress and increasing overall health, employees may end up paying less in medical expenses throughout the year, and they may even see a reduction in sick days.
The benefits of mindfulness are many, and more people are realizing that the practice makes employees more productive. By encouraging your employees to practice mindfulness, you may be getting a healthier, less stressed workforce. Follow the steps above to introduce the practice in your own company.
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