22 Aug 2018
What is mindfulness? It's a term many of us have heard, but few truly understand—and for good reason— it’s a widely debated subject.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness, accordingly to Mindful.org, is “the basic human ability to be full present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Looking at the definition, it is understandable why this sounds appealing to both employees and employers working in fast-paced, stressful environments.
How does it work?
There are a number of techniques used in mindfulness training, from breathing techniques to meditation, and so on. The desired result is to induce a relaxation response to ‘reset’ the body’s stress levels, lowering heart rate, blood pressure, muscles tension, etc.
Not only does this have an impact on the body, it is also shown to have an impact on the brain, affecting the regions associated with fear and pain, and having a positive effect on our thoughts and feelings.
What are the benefits?
A study by the mindfulness initiative has shown that mindfulness training improves employees’ attitudes in three key areas:
This report showed that only 12% of respondents felt their employers provided them with resilience and general wellbeing. Mindfulness courses enable individuals to recognise the signs of stress quickly, and as a result respond more effectively.
It also has a positive impact on burnout, and helps treat the symptoms of anxiety and depression. By employing a mindfulness training course, employers show they have a general interest in their employees’ wellbeing.
45 mindfulness surveys have found that mindfulness improves relationships at work, including improved collaboration, and in turn, an increase in productivity.
For full details on the benefits, as well as the results of the studies conducted, see the report here.
How should I go about implementing mindfulness training?
There are plenty of resources available to get your mindfulness training up and running. Firstly, assess your workforce- are they likely to embrace the idea, or are you going to face some resistance?
This should inform your decision as to how you proceed. Another factor that should be considered is budget— how much time and money should go into this course? It is recommended that mindfulness courses last at least 6 weeks for proper implementation and lasting effect.
All of these factors will ultimately decide which form your training will take.
Getting a local teacher to come into the office will be the most costly method, but likely the most effective, and recommended for companies that can afford to assign a budget to the course.
For smaller businesses with fewer employees, subscribing to a webinar, utilising free online resources, or getting an internal HR employee to conduct sessions will be a more affordable and appropriate option.
Is it worth it?
While the overall amount of sick days being taken this year has fallen to an all-time low, the percentage of people taking time off due stress, depression, and anxiety has greatly increased.
Any measure taken to reduce absence due to poor mental health is beneficial. However, some critics of mindfulness have pointed out that it does not address legitimate issues within the workplace.
In some cases, mindfulness is used as a tool to help employees cope with needlessly stressful or negative situations. Mindfulness should not be a substitute for an actual solution.
If your employees are overworked; speak to them about their work hours and time off. If an employee is having frequent disputes with a colleague; set up a meeting with them to discuss the situation.
If you have any questions regarding mindfulness in the workplace, speak to a Croner expert on 01455 858 132.
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