Mindfulness in the Workplace: Countering Employee Stress
Mindfulness in the workplace is a growing trend among businesses as a way to help counter employee stress – a leading cause of employee disengagement that can also inhibit productivity.
A recent Paychex survey of over 2,000 full-time employees found that workers feel stressed by factors both in and outside of work – whether it’s struggling with work/life balance, financial worries, or other issues. Over half of respondents recognized that less stress would help them feel happier and positively impact their mental and physical health.
Many other studies echo these findings, demonstrating that businesses seeking to address this health-related issue could see higher levels of employee morale and productivity, and even less turnover.
What constitutes mindfulness? It represents a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings and thoughts. No evaluation, interpretation, or judgment is involved, but rather an awareness of perception that focuses on “being” rather than “doing.”
Here are some suggestions for incorporating mindfulness into your employee wellness program as a way to help employees gain a sense of control over their conscious thoughts and attitudes:
Start with education. Most of us have heard of mindfulness, but there's still a lack of knowledge about what that involves. To get employees on board, hold meetings and/or classes that highlight the science behind stress reduction and wellness programs, then explore the benefits of mindfulness, meditation, and related activities. Once employees see how this can help decrease their daily stress levels and make them feel better while on the job, there could be greater interest in pursuing the topic.
Lead by example. As with any companywide initiative, it's vital that business owners, CEOs, and other senior management get behind a mindfulness program. Written communications and/or personal endorsements by senior leadership at staff meetings can go a long way toward promoting awareness of and enthusiasm about the benefits of mindfulness in the workplace.
Consider the types of technology you adopt. As groundbreaking and beneficial as new technologies may be, they may also add to workplace stress by distracting employees and reducing productivity. For example, email, texts, and other types of instant messaging can dilute an employee’s ability to focus, which may lead to stress and less productivity.
Fortunately, some technologies in the form of meditation and mindfulness apps can help combat these negative effects. Consider doing some research and suggesting some to employees who are in search of the benefits of mindfulness.
Put mindfulness into employees' daily routines. Classes and webinars are great for education, but nothing demonstrates how mindfulness really works better than incorporating it into daily work routines. For instance, you could suggest that mobile device use be prohibited during meetings. Employers might be surprised by how much more efficient meetings can be when they have everyone's full attention.
Remember, there’s less of a chance that mindfulness will work if employees feel it's being forced on them. Only by experiencing it themselves, in a company culture that highlights its recuperative effects, can they become enthusiastic advocates of this calming, meditative technique. This can lead to less stress in the workplace and higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement.