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How to Implement Mindfulness in the Workplace

2022-07-05
How to Implement Mindfulness in the Workplace

Mindfulness is a concept that has been around for thousands of years, but it's only recently started to gain momentum in western workplaces. The benefits are well documented- from increased focus and self-awareness to less stress and better time management. There are many ways to implement mindfulness in the office, and this article will discuss a few of them.

What Is Mindfulness in the Workplace?

Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the present moment without judgment. When applied to work, it can help improve work relationships, increase resilience, enhance performance, reduce stress, and strengthen emotional intelligence. [1]

Mindfulness at work can involve simple things like taking breaks to focus on your breath or being aware of your body throughout the day. It can also involve more formal mindfulness techniques such as mindfulness meditation. Jon Kabat-Zinn has developed and introduced Mindfulness

How Do You Implement Mindfulness in the Workplace?

When we're mindful, we're less likely to get caught up in unhelpful thought patterns and react to situations in ways that we might later regret. Employees who practice mindfulness can help to create a more positive and productive environment. So, how do you go about implementing mindfulness in the workplace?

Make Sure Senior Management Gets Involved

As any leader knows, setting the tone for an organization is essential to its success. If upper-level management is not committed to a certain goal or strategy, it will be difficult to get employees to buy into the idea.

This is especially true when it comes to practicing mindfulness. Getting senior management on board, however, can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to help you make the case and get them involved.

Explain the benefits of mindfulness

Be sure to include both the science-backed benefits and any personal anecdotes or experiences you have had with mindfulness. This will help paint a well-rounded picture of how employees who practice mindfulness can improve their wellbeing and organizations as a whole.

Describe your plan

This should include information on how you will introduce the mindfulness practice concept to your employees, what type of training or resources will be provided, and how you will measure success. Having a detailed plan will show that you're serious about making mindfulness a success at your company.

Share success stories of other companies

This will help illustrate that it is possible to create a mindful workplace culture and that there are already many successful examples out there. Successful giants such as Google, Goldman Sachs, and General Mills are great examples.

If you take the time to build a strong case, there's a good chance you'll be able to get senior management on board with your plans.

Start Small

When it comes to mindfulness at work, it's important to start with a simple practice. Don't try to roll out a full-scale mindfulness program all at once. Instead, begin by incorporating some short mindful exercises into the routine of your employees.

breathing exercises

Suggest employees take a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on their breath. Or, every time they feel themselves getting tense or stressed, they can take a quick break to breathe deeply. This will help regulate the nervous system and see stressful situations from a fresh perspective.

Walking meditation

Going for a quick mindful walk can help to center oneself and refocus on the task at hand. Paying attention to the surroundings and physical sensations during the walk can relieve stress and help practice awareness of the present moment.

PAY ATTENTION

A mindful exercise such as noticing the smell of the morning coffee or observing the colors of the office can help staff feel calmer and focused.

As employees become more comfortable with mindfulness, they can start to experiment with more advanced techniques, such as mindfulness meditation. The key is to start slow and build up gradually. By taking things one step at a time, your employees are more likely to stick with mindfulness in the long run - and reap its benefits at work.

Work within Your Means

There are a variety of ways to encourage mindfulness at work, but the key is to find what works best for your organization and your staff.

length of practice

If you have a team of salespeople who are constantly on the go, it may be more practical to offer them brief mindfulness exercises that they can do throughout the day.

Hosting regular lunchtime sessions where employees take some short breaks from work to meditate or do simple stretching exercises would be ideal. Research has shown that even a 7 or 8-minute mindfulness exercise results in more productive, helpful, and content staff. [2]

Alternatively, if you have a group of employees who are struggling with stress or burnout, longer mindfulness sessions may be beneficial.

online vs offline

If you have a large number of remote workers, consider offering an online mindfulness course that they can complete at their own pace. Or, if you have an office-based team, you might want to provide regular yoga or meditation classes.

Regardless of the approach you take, mindfulness training can have a profound impact on your employees' health and productivity.

Make It Optional

As more and more companies begin to introduce mindfulness programs, there is bound to be some resistance from employees. While practicing mindfulness can be beneficial for some, it should be optional in the workplace.

Mindfulness can help people learn how to control their thoughts and emotions, but it doesn't benefit everyone in the same way. Some people may find it difficult to stay present and focused during mindfulness exercises, and others may find the whole concept too overwhelming. Some employees may prefer to find their own ways to relax and de-stress, such as sports, other hobbies, or religious practices.

If someone isn't interested in the training, that's OK. Just let them opt out and continue with their work day. Forcing someone to participate in practicing mindfulness will only create resentment, and it's likely that they won't get anything out of the experience.

So, if you're considering offering mindfulness training at your workplace, just remember to let employees make the decision for themselves.

Provide Support

For managers, promoting mindfulness and supporting employees in their practice can be a challenge. However, there are a few simple things that managers can do to support a mindful workplace.

Encourage employees to make time

Offer your employees breaks during the day to move their bodies and get fresh air, without putting pressure on their deadlines and responsibilities. Staff will be much more likely to engage in the practice if they won't feel worried about unfinished tasks.

Provide opportunities for learning

One way to do this is to provide information about mindfulness through lunch-and-learns or company-sponsored speakers. They can provide employees with practical tips for incorporating mindfulness into their daily routines.

Offer tech support

In the workplace, we often get disturbed by the constant notifications on social media, e-mails, and phone calls. However, technology in itself doesn't need to be a distraction -- it can actually aid mindfulness.

Mood trackers are one of the most popular tech tools for mindfulness. It allows users to track their moods over time, helps employees to identify patterns in their mood swings, and to see how their current mood compares to their average mood. Since mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment, mood trackers can support that awareness by bringing employees' attention to their emotions and moods.

Model mindfulness yourself

By being present and aware of their own thoughts, feelings, and actions, mindful leaders can set an example for their team members and create a more positive and productive work environment.

Mindfulness can help managers avoid reacting to stressful situations in a way that could worsen the situation. Instead, they can take a step back, assess the situation, and respond in a more constructive manner. Additionally, mindfulness can help managers to better understand their own emotions and those of their team members.

By seeing managers using a mindfulness approach in leadership, decision making, and building emotional connections, staff may feel inspired to follow their lead.

Be Patient

It can be tempting to try and force employees to adopt mindfulness practices overnight, but this is likely to be met with resistance. Mindfulness takes time to learn and integrate into daily life, so it is important to give employees the time and space to explore it at their own pace.

Forcing someone to become mindful fast can have the opposite effect, leading to feelings of frustration and inadequacy. Instead, it is vital to focus on the long-term benefits.

In addition, being patient also means understanding when mistakes are made. Mindfulness requires focus and concentration, so it is natural for there to be a learning curve.

Just as it takes time to learn any new skill, it takes time for employees to reap the benefits mindfulness brings. It is important to remember that mindfulness practice is a journey, not a destination.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Strategies Are Most Effective for Increasing Workplace Mindfulness?

Many experts suggest that encouraging your employees to focus on one task at a time can be a very effective mindfulness strategy. When we try to do two or more tasks at a time, our mind wanders and our nervous system becomes overloaded. Pomodoro technique, for example, is a method that helps avoid multitasking by dividing tasks into 25-minute periods of time when you are focused, followed by a short break.

Another strategy for bringing mindfulness is inspired by a publishing company Prentice Hall. They have implemented a quiet space in the office for employees to pray, and practice gratitude and mindfulness. Staff can take a few moments a day to reflect, relax or recharge when they feel stressed, tired, or overwhelmed. [3]

Finally, in a nowadays fast-paced office environment, the use of technology is an important strategy. Goldman Sachs, for example, swears by promoting meditation apps to their employees.

It appears that mindfulness programs are the future of organizations worldwide. In the words of the Goldman Sachs head of human capital management, "In years to come, we’ll be talking about mindfulness as we talk about exercise now." [4]

Resources

1 Craig, 2019. https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-at-work/

2 Cameron, 2019. https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/mindfulness-at-work/

3 Fownes & Kim, 2017. https://www.workdesign.com/2017/04/room-think-rise-still-spaces-workplace/#:~:text=Prentice%2DHall%20publishing%20company%20created,realm%20of%20the%20indoor%20office

4 Agnew, 2014. https://www.ft.com/content/331b85d0-d20d-11e3-8b5b-00144feabdc0#axzz3iUsm8nwS