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Mindfulness in the Workplace: What Is It and Why Should Managers Care?

Mindfulness in the Workplace: What Is It and Why Should Managers Care?

Learn how to make mindfulness an essential part of your company culture. In today's fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, it's more important than ever for managers to find ways to keep their teams focused and motivated.

Some people may think that the answer lies in adding more structure or stricter rules, but recent studies have shown that mindfulness can be a powerful tool for improving productivity and creativity in the workplace.

In this blog post, we'll explore what mindfulness is, how you can start implementing it in your own team, and some of the benefits that come with it.

What Is Mindfulness in the Workplace?

Mindfulness in the workplace is the practice of maintaining a present state of mind, without judgment. It is about being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions whilst working, and learning to become more attuned to your own needs and emotions. Research has shown that mindfulness can have a number of benefits for both individuals and organizations.

Why Is Mindfulness in the Workplace So Important?

In a fast-paced work environment, it can be easy to get caught up in our thoughts and forget to pay attention to our bodies and surroundings. By practicing mindfulness, we can learn to stay present and focused on the task at hand. This can help us to be more productive and efficient in our work.

In addition, mindfulness can help to reduce stress by promoting a sense of calm and relaxation. When we are more mindful of our thoughts and feelings, we are better able to manage them effectively. As a result, mindfulness in the workplace can have a positive impact on our individual and collective mental health.

Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

Mindfulness in the workplace can transform the team’s spirit through the use of intentional well-being practices. Regular practice can increase a team’s emotional intelligence, productivity, and confidence, whilst reducing negative attributes such as occupational stress and absenteeism.

  • Improve Focus: Mindfulness exercises have been shown to increase grey matter in the brain, which boosts mental processes such as attention, decision-making, and coordination.
  • Increase Productivity: Mindful productivity involves being fully present and engaged with a task. Mindfulness can increase the quality of work by engaging an employee's full attention.
  • Reduce Stress: Mindfulness allows a person a break from their stressors by shifting focus back to their physical reality.
  • Reduce Negative Thinking: In the same way, mindfulness in the workplace can help put a stop to the cycle of negative thinking and rumination. Employees will learn to notice their negative thoughts without viewing them as reality.
  • Promote Calm: Mindfulness aims to achieve a state of alert calm through conscious attention.
  • Build Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence is an invaluable skill across a variety of professions. By focusing on our emotions, we can become more in tune with others.
  • Increase Workplace Happiness: Mindfulness training can improve the well-being of individuals, but most often it has an effect on the team as a whole as well. A mindful workplace can help decrease stress and improve job satisfaction.
  • Avoid Burnout: A mindful work environment often leads to better communication and awareness around employees' roles and their satisfaction within the workplace. This can create protect employees from burning out.
  • Boost Creativity: Some psychologists believe that mindfulness meditation can improve creativity by reducing a person's fear of judgment. This in turn increases their self-expression and creative thinking.
  • Improve Motivation: Mindfulness practices are practical at heart. They allow a person to focus on their goals and visualize outcomes more clearly. This is a key factor in building motivation.

Check out our blog post to discover more about the Top 10 Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace.

Examples of Mindfulness in the Workplace

Mindfulness involves some innovative thinking to be implemented throughout the workplace. Here, we take some inspiring ideas from best-selling mindfulness author, Shamash Alidina.

Slow Down to Boost Productivity

By taking things intentionally slowly, we can rewire our nervous system to view work as something we are in sync with, rather than something we are nervous about finishing. Taking some short breaks to reconnect to the present moment can banish unwanted fears and keep the brain working at its peak performance.

Set Reminders to Keep it Up

One way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life is to set reminders, such as an alarm on your phone or computer. At work, this can help you to take a few moments out of your day to focus on your breathing and be present in the moment. Mindfulness doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming - even a few minutes of mindfulness can make a difference. If you're new to mindfulness, setting regular reminders is a great way to help you get into the habit of practicing mindfulness on a daily basis.

Start the Day out Right

We can set the tone for our workday by taking a moment to commit to mindful working at the start of the day or shift. By choosing to be fully present, we set ourselves up for a day of mindful focus and productivity.

Implement Short Awareness Practices

You don't need to have a formal meditation practice to implement mindfulness training into your daily work schedule. The practices can be as short as needed, especially as this allows for repetition throughout the day.

An example of awareness practice is taking a few minutes to focus purely on physical sensations. This simple practice can create space in an employee's day, where they train their brain's attention to details within the present moment.

Avoid Multi-Tasking (yes, seriously)

Recent research has suggested that although multitasking makes us feel more competent, it is actually a drain on our productivity. Not only that, but thinking about several other concepts whilst maintaining our focus on something else is inherently un-mindful. Mindfulness training involves focusing on the present moment to fully engage and banish rumination. In order to do that, we need to focus on one task at a time.

How to Implement Mindfulness in the Workplace

Implementing mindfulness in the workplace can seem like a daunting task, but there are a few simple ways to get started.

  • Make sure senior management gets involved. The leader/s of an organization set the tone for the rest of the staff. If upper-level management is not on board with mindfulness training, it will be difficult to get employees to participate. Be sure to implement mindful leadership as the first step!
  • Start small. Don't try to implement a full-scale mindfulness program all at once. Instead, start with a few minutes of mindfulness each day and gradually increase the amount of time as employees become more comfortable with the practice.
  • Work within your means. There are a variety of ways to implement mindfulness training, but some common elements include regular meditation sessions, yoga classes, and breathing exercises. The key is to find what works best for your employees and your business. For example, if you have a lot of remote workers, you might consider offering an online mindfulness course that they can complete at their own pace. If you have a smaller budget, you can host regular lunchtime mindfulness sessions where employees can take a break from work to meditate or do some simple stretching exercises.
  • Make it optional. Some employees may not be interested in mindfulness training, and that's OK. Don't force anyone to participate; let them opt in if they want to try it out.
  • Provide Support. This involves creating the space and time needed for employees to practice mindfulness without putting pressure on the rest of their schedule (people are much less likely to benefit from a mindfulness program if they are worried about how they'll finish their work around it. Managers can also provide technological help with mindfulness, such as apps and wellbeing trackers.
  • Be patient. Mindfulness takes time to learn and integrate into your daily life. Don't expect immediate results; instead, focus on the long-term benefits of the practice.

The Challenges of Implementing Mindfulness in the Workplace

Mindfulness can be beneficial both in our personal lives and in the workplace. However, there are also some challenges associated with implementing mindfulness in the workplace.


Sometimes, mindfulness can make us aware of our negative emotions. This can make it seem like the practice is unhelpful or actually bad for mental health. This is simply not the case, but for a person who isn't used to self-awareness when it comes to negative emotions, it can be quite alarming to notice they're there.

Furthermore, many people feel frustrated when they "do it wrong" - for example, if they are trying to focus on their sense of touch but the image of a potential parking ticket flashes across their mind. This is a perfectly normal part of mindfulness practice, but it can cause distress in people who aim for complete focus straight away.


Mindfulness meditation still carries a bit of a stigma in some circles. Part of the reason for this may be that mindfulness is often associated with Eastern religions, such as Buddhism, and therefore against their own religious beliefs. However, mindfulness is a secular practice that can be beneficial for people of any religious background.

Additionally, some people may view mindfulness as "touchy-feely" or overly simplistic. However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that mindfulness can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote general well-being. With its many proven benefits, it's time for the stigma surrounding mindfulness to finally be put to rest.

Lack of Leadership Involvement

Research suggests that the implementation of mindfulness practice at work can often fail to achieve the intended results. One of the biggest reasons for this is that leaders fail to get involved in the program. Mindfulness requires a commitment to self-awareness and self-regulation, which starts with the top-down.

Leaders need to be model citizens of the program, demonstrating the behaviors and attitudes that they want to see in their employees. Furthermore, they need to provide ongoing support and feedback to ensure that employees are staying on track. Without mindful leadership, workplace mindfulness programs are unlikely to succeed.

The Program is Not Cohesive with Other Company Values

For certain companies, particularly companies with poor ethical standards or overworked, underpaid staff, a mindfulness program may not be helpful. It is essential that a company evaluates how its practices affect employees' mental health before encouraging them to practice mindfulness.

Difficulty Making it Last

In order for mindfulness to truly boost employees' mental health, employees need to build a regular mindfulness practice, as supported by the workplace. This requires regularly allotted time for mindfulness as well as creating a supportive environment regarding mental health in general.

Mindfulness is not something that can be turned on and off like a switch. In order for it to be most effective, employees should be supported with learning how to practice mindfulness both in and out of work. Only then will they start to see benefits in their personal and professional lives.

Bigger Problems

For some employees, there are simply too many other things going on in their lives for them to feel comfortable or safe with slowing down. For some people, certain mindfulness exercises such as body scans can be counterproductive in stress reduction. This means that mindfulness won't necessarily benefit all employees in all situations, and not everyone should be expected to participate in mindfulness activities if they don't feel it is right for them.

Mindfulness Exercises for the Workplace

Mindfulness exercises can be a great way to help employees focus and reduce stress at work. There are many different mindfulness techniques, but some simple exercises that can be done in the workplace involve very simple, conscious actions.

  • Walking Meditation: Take a few minutes to walk mindfully around the office. Pay attention to your breath and your surroundings, and let go of any thoughts or judgments.
  • Deep Breathing: Take a deep breath in through your nose, expanding your chest and belly. Hold for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat several times. These can be repeated during moments of high stress to regain clarity and calm.
  • Body Scan: Slowly scan your body from head to toe, paying attention to any sensations you feel. If you notice any areas of tension, focus on relaxing those muscle groups.
  • Mindful Listening: Active listening is a mindfulness technique that involves really focusing on what the person speaking is saying, without letting your mind wander. This can be helpful in meetings or when dealing with customers, as it allows you to really hear and understand what is being said.
  • Mindful immersion: Focus on one task at a time and be fully present in the moment. At work, this could involve blocking out a certain amount of time to fully attend to one task without checking emails, accepting calls, or attending to any other duties but the main task.
  • Mindful stretching: This is another easy mindfulness exercise that can be done at work. It involves taking a few minutes to focus on your breath and stretch your body. This can help to reduce tension and increase energy levels.

Companies Practicing Mindfulness

In recent years, there has been a growing movement in the business world towards mindfulness. Advocates within the following companies argue that it can help to improve focus and productivity, as well as reduce stress and anxiety.

  • Google. As part of their commitment to positive psychology, Google offers a wide range of mindfulness programs and resources to help employees stay present and focused. From regular meditation classes to on-site massage therapy, Google provides everything its employees need to find calm amidst the chaos. The results are clear: mindful employees are more productive, creative, and resilient, which helps create a positive cycle of success for both the individual and the company.
  • General Mills. At General Mills, employees are encouraged to practice mindfulness as part of the company's commitment to promoting a healthy workplace culture. The company offers several programs to support employees in their practice of mindfulness, including an on-site meditation room and regular lunchtime seminars.
  • Intel. Intel's mindfulness program was founded by a few employees on their own initiative, but it has since evolved into a company-wide employee wellbeing program. This way, hard-working engineers can find time for reducing stress by bringing mindfulness practices into an otherwise high-pressure work environment.
  • Aetna. Aetna is a perfect example of mindful leadership. Mark Bertolini, the CEO, personally swears by mindfulness after several life tragedies led him to alternative forms of therapy. Now, he provides the tools necessary for his whole workforce to practice mindfulness in the workplace.
  • Goldman Sachs. This company has a strong place in Fortune Magazine's Best Places to Work list. They publicly declare how mindfulness benefits their workplace culture by using mental health and mindfulness hashtags on Twitter.
  • AstraZeneca. After the severe pressure, they were under to deliver results during the Covid-19 pandemic, it's no wonder that AstraZeneca implemented mindfulness strategies to help alleviate employee stress.
  • Fidelity Investments. Julie Ravech O'Connell is the vice president of Fidelity Investments, but she is also a mindfulness teacher and program coordinator for the whole company. Another great example of a mindful leader.
  • Nike. For a company that sells an active lifestyle, it only makes sense that mindfulness would have a strong presence in its own environment. Nike was one of the first companies to offer free weekly yoga and meditation classes to their employees, and the practice has since spread to many more of their offices around the world.
  • The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. This hospital allows staff members to join in with the specialist-run mindfulness courses it offers to patients. These sessions aid patients in dealing with pain, but also help staff to deal with the daily stressors that come from working in such an important role.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Mindfulness Prevent Burnout in the Workplace?

Mindfulness can help to prevent burnout by reducing stress and promoting healthy coping mechanisms. When practiced regularly, mindfulness can help individuals to become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, and to manage them in a more constructive way. As a result, people who practice mindfulness can better cope with stressful situations and are less likely to experience burnout.

However, it is important to remember that mindfulness is not a panacea and that it cannot completely guard against burnout. There are many factors that contribute to burnout, and no single practice or intervention will be effective for everyone. Employers need to take a holistic look at their workplace and evaluate how supportive the environment is from different angles. That said, mindfulness can be a helpful tool for managing stress and promoting well-being in the workplace.

What is Mindful Leadership?

Mindful leadership is a term that is often used but not well understood. Simply put, mindful leaders are those who are aware of their own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and how they impact others. Mindful leaders are present in the moment and refrain from judgment. They listen with the intent to understand, not just to reply. This type of leader sets the tone for their team by modeling mindful behavior. As a result, team members feel respected, valued, and heard. When everyone is working from a place of mindfulness, it leads to more effective communication and collaboration. The end result is a more cohesive team that is better able to achieve its goals.

How Effective Is Mindfulness in Reducing Workplace Stress?

Employee stress is a major issue for employers. It can lead to absenteeism, employee turnover, and reduced productivity. While there is evidence that mindfulness can help reduce workplace stress, the effectiveness of these programs depends upon how the workplace accommodates and supports such activities. For example, if employees are expected to participate in mindfulness training during work hours, they may feel pressured and stressed rather than relaxed and centered. Similarly, if the workplace does not provide a quiet and comfortable space for employees to practice mindfulness, it is unlikely to be effective. In order for mindfulness programs to be truly effective in reducing workplace stress, employers need to create a supportive environment that encourages employee participation.

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