In recent times up to half of all Australian workers reported feeling significant workplace stress, with that number increasing for the younger generations. Significant stress is not “just part of the job,” it can lead to problems at home, losing tempers at work, and unplanned time off, along with an overall decline of work quality. The good news is that mindfulness can help employees manage day-to-day stress. Here’s how it works:
What is Mindfulness?
“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.” That may sound like something you would hear in a meditation class, and it’s no surprise that mindfulness techniques are also used to decrease stress. But employees don’t need a quiet room or a lotus position to do it – practical mindfulness programs have been used in businesses since the 1970s. Key parts of mindfulness include:
- Focusing on the present moment and your current physical sensations: That doesn’t mean purposefully emptying your mind of thoughts, but rather turning your attention to what’s happening here and now, especially with your emotions and body.
- Practicing paying close attention to things that are happening.
- Accepting what you are feeling and thinking in the moment without judgment or concern. That doesn’t mean everything you think or feel has to be “right,” but simply that you aren’t worrying about that.
- Letting go of worries that stem from past or future events.
- Finding tranquility with the activity at hand.
- Improving focus through repeated practice.
Why is Mindfulness Important?
When introducing mindfulness to employees, especially in fast-paced environments, they may push back on the idea with opinions like, “My job requires multitasking, I don’t have time for this,” or, “I actually thrive with a little bit of stress and chaos when I’m working.”
However, workplace stress is not a positive development. “Multitasking is a pernicious myth that is preventing us from getting our work done.” When humans try to multitask, they tend to lose track of the details and make more mistakes or become frequently distracted and struggle to meet their own goals.
Additionally, as we noted above, stress has a direct, measurable impact on employee performance, and it’s not positive. Stressed employees have lower productivity, more health issues, and a much higher risk of absence.
Stress is also correlated with lack of sleep and trouble with personal relationships, which can negatively affect work-life balance and lead to workplace issues as well. It’s also a mistake to assume stress only affects employees in high-pressure, decision-making roles: Every kind of employee can experience stress, from office workers to those in manual labour.
Finally, from a leadership perspective, focusing on ways to deal with workplace stress can also help companies improve workloads, spot problems in workflow, and address employee concerns.
Benefits of Mindfulness at Work
Decision-making capabilities improve. Mindfulness techniques work very well at eliminating distractions and focusing on what’s important. That helps employees avoid making bad decisions out of fear, anger, or tunnel vision on the wrong factors.
Employees can reduce their anxiety. The calming effects of mindfulness are excellent at dropping anxiety levels. This can help employees provide better customer service and avoid making mistakes during their jobs, from getting orders wrong to getting into accidents. It also helps relieve some of the unhealthy consequences of stress.
It allows employees to take important breaks from their work. Even a few minutes of mindfulness practices can help employees return to their tasks with renewed focus, determination, and peace of mind. These small breaks can be very helpful for employee satisfaction – and if employees don’t feel comfortable taking breaks like this, mindfulness practices can be easily incorporated into mandatory break times.
Mindfulness helps employees identify unconscious bias and similar problems. It can be difficult for employees to uncover their own unconscious biases and other ways that they may be making the wrong assumptions or poor interpretations. This makes mindfulness training an effective add-on for training on diversity and inclusion, among other initiatives.
Employees learn new techniques for avoiding workplace arguments. Workplace tension and arguments often stem from underlying stress, a build-up of anger, or serious miscommunications. Mindfulness can help employees to take a step back, review their own emotions, and avoid escalation that can lead to workplace fights and related problems that can create toxic work environments.
Mindfulness can improve energy levels. These techniques can give employees more energy, help them pay attention for longer periods, and reduce fatigue, especially when it comes to repetitive tasks.
Leaders benefit from practicing mindfulness. A leader’s stress levels have a direct impact on how productive their employees. Studies have shown that when supervisors practice mindfulness, their employee’s emotional exhaustion decreases as well. Not only that, but their work-life balance appeared to improve and they received better overall job performance ratings. This suggests that mindfulness has a significant impact on how supervisors treat employees and help them with their responsibilities.
Mindfulness Meditation Program
This Mindfulness Meditation Program allows participants to develop a deeper understanding of the mind & a more accepting & compassionate relationship to their internal & external experiences. Mindfulness is a specialised skill in mental awareness, attention & acceptance that is associated with numerous health benefits. This program involves guided exercises, including meditation, to help individuals become aware of automatic patterns of thinking, feeling & behaving & learn to respond in more effective ways.