The Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace
I recently delivered a one hour presentation on Mindfulness in Business to a local group of business people. I began by asking how many of them knew what mindfulness was. Nobody knew. I then asked, how many thought mindfulness had something to do with mediation. The majority indicated in the affirmative. I then asked how many had meditated, to which only one person indicated they had. When I informed them that we would not be doing meditation, there was noticeable relief!
If business’ understood the benefits of including mindfulness at work, everyone would be doing it. Here are the top eight benefits of being more mindful in the workplace:
You have an established sense of your self-worth.
You are committed to maintaining work/life balance.
Increased self-awareness leads to a greater awareness of your colleagues and customers.
You are more inclined to act with compassion and kindness.
You will have more inner peace, which will positively impact on those around you.
You will be more intuitive and creative.
You will be more engaged and productive in your role.
You start your day with a sense of joy and purpose and finish it with a sense of fulfilment.
If this was the culture of a business that you worked in, would this be somewhere you want to work?
Mindfulness is remembering that you can choose a more self-honouring alternative.
Alternative to what? To the habitual way you live your life. Research has shown that people typically are functioning habitually 95% of the time. This means that you will always get what you have always got! Our habitual way of living has been programmed from a very young age, mostly by those who raised us. For the majority this has resulted in a set of beliefs, behaviours and expectations that has compromised our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing.
Statistics show that lifestyle diseases in the western world, including depression and anxiety, are at epidemic proportions. This means that the majority of people who turn up for work are dealing with these challenges. Our habitual way of living is both the cause and perpetuation of these diseases, and are typically the result of three things: ignorance (when you don’t know that you don’t know and function from programming), avoiding (when you have knowledge about what needs to change and how to change, and chose not to) and when you’re attached (you have the understanding of how to change, you make the effort, but can’t sustain it).
As an employer, would you prefer staff who where aligned with the previous two paragraphs, or staff who align with the bullet list above? Any investment in helping staff to be more mindful is an investment in the success of your business. The bulleted-qualities listed above are rare in business and are the magnet that draws customers and quality staff. Over the last two years I have been delivering a series of two-day workshops called Pathways to Mindfulness. They are designed to help people in various career roles, engage their role with more awareness and therefor more mindfulness.
A participant from last year wrote this; ‘Things have changed since completing it (the Aware Health Professional two-day workshop). Work/life balance and even (my) income has changed without doing much at all.’ When she refers to ‘without doing much at all’ she is talking about the practice of being mindful. As previously stated, when you are practicing being mindful, all you are doing is remembering that you have a more self-loving alternative from which to engage life. Of course some effort is required to imagine what a more self-loving expression of life would look like. We have too many excuses for why we don’t deserve that, which without it, makes mindfulness an impossibility.
This is why having a sturdy program and an aware mentor are often necessary for creating a mindful approach to living. Let me finish by sharing an example of how mindfulness can impact on a work environment.
A few years ago a woman sought help with issues around her lack of job satisfaction. She had been in the same role for several years and was at a point where she felt she wanted to leave. Her role at work was being compromised by the lack of engagement, and if she was to leave, the company would incur significant costs in training a new staff member etc. A big part of why she felt disengaged was because she felt like she didn’t belong. She was single, lived on her own and felt quite isolated and invisible at work. One of the aspects of awareness in the Enhances Awareness Program includes self-nurturance, which can be expressed through the quantity and quality of hugs one gets each day. In her case it was zero.
In imaging what a more self-loving expression of this might look like, this woman felt that at least six hugs a day would be perfect. Given her circumstances she couldn’t imagine how she could get six hugs a day. It became obvious that she was going to have to ask for them, but still not certain how. A couple of weeks later, she informed me that she had put up a sign on her desk at work, which read; ‘Get Your Free Hugs Here’.
Before she knew it she was getting her six hugs a day! In fact within a few months she had to limit the times that hugs were available. Later in the year, at the annual corporate awards, employees who had excelled in various aspects of performance in the company were awarded and rewarded. This woman was shocked when her name was read and she was being given the award for the member of staff voted as being the most valuable colleague by her peers. She was rewarded with a trip to Fiji. Needless to say, she remained in the job, and had a great sense of her worth and contribution.
Over the next few blogs I will discuss the various benefits of mindfulness in business, in more detail.
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