Mindful Workplaces

by | Stuff To Read

Companies are always looking to capitalize on their investments.  Most want to always improve and move forward and many have been busily adopting a more mindful approach to they employees and customers.  Progressive companies understand that people are at the heart of any organization and without taking care of their people (customers, suppliers, employees etc…) they will not get the expected results or be able to achieve their goals and objectives.

Mindfulness is becoming quite popular in the corporate world.  Human Resources and Organizational Development departments are creating strategies to capitalize on the benefits of Mindfulness.  There are many benefits for sure but there are ways to implement a Mindfulness strategy that will maximize your effort.  Simply rolling out a “learning program” is not enough.  Companies have to encourage their employees to actually practice the various exercises by providing time and ongoing instruction.  Ultimately for the company to realize the gains promised by Mindfulness they must adopt a strategy where by they are creating a Mindfulness Culture.

Mindfulness Benefits in the Corporate World

Mindfulness is a series of practices that one conducts in order to improve skills in certain mental areas. Focused attention exercises such as Mindful Breathing Meditations can improve focus and concentration. Insight Meditation practices can help improve self-awareness about how one is interpreting their experiences. This in turn allows one to bring balance into those interpretations by questioning them for accuracy and exaggeration. Balancing these active beliefs, balances our emotional states and thus our actions become more balanced.

This process of balancing our beliefs or what I call Optimistic Re-framing allows us to be more effective at self-regulation and self-management. Finally compassion exercises help increase empathy not only for our fellow employees but for our customers and suppliers. Employees become more in-tune to people’s needs and better able to deliver on them. Compassion also motivates people to believe that change is possible and it motivates people to take action to make change happen. A perfect skill in times of uncertainty.

There are many benefits to be had when companies and organizations adopt a Mindful Culture.  There are many scientific studies that indicated improvements in many areas.  Not only can practicing Mindfulness help increase focus and attention, it can help improve creativity, improve communication skills, reduce stress, enhance teamwork and collaboration, helps motivate people to achieve goals and objectives and all together these improvements improves customer focus and overall productivity of an organization.  Finally, taking a more mindful approach builds compassion with employees and customers making the workplace more balanced. This may all sound too good to be true but these claims are all based in real science.

Mindfulness is More than a Class

All these skills require practice. With practice we can become better. The science is very clear on this. Neuroplasticity tells us that what we focus on and pay attention to, changes the structure and function of our brains. So practicing the various forms of Meditation practices is essential if we want to see any improvements. This should not be a huge surprise to anyone since we know this to be true in the physical fitness world. If one does not exercise they will not become fitter.

Therefore companies who just teach their employees about the benefits of Mindfulness and review some practices are likely to not see any results unless they also encourage their employees to actually practice. It is essential, especially at the beginning, to make practicing easy and accessible. Hosting regular Meditation sits throughout the day may be one option. These can be done in person or via Skype or Google Hangout. Hosting “Mindful Eating” lunches or coffee breaks is another option. Encouraging employees to “Walk Mindfully” every time they walk away from their desks is another option that takes no scheduling. Encouraging employees to do mini body scans that look for muscle tension is a wonderful way to help teach them greater body awareness. This will allow them to notice stress in the body and then they can simply “breath into the tension” to release it.

It’s About the People

All of these tactics are wonderful ways to get employees to practice. With practice you will see improvements in the various skill levels and THEN the company will see some benefits. Mindfulness is not some quick fix panacea for getting employees to produce more. It’s a series of practices that encourage observation, self-reflection and a wholesome approach to experiencing life. It helps one to move forward in the direction that one want’s to go in. The company will benefit from this eventually but it all starts with helping the person first and allowing them to practice developing their skills.

Mindfulness is an investment in the people and will pay off.