When it comes to the workplace, it can be quite tedious to keep up with our duties and responsibilities as employees and serve our customers well enough to have them come back again and even recommend our services to their friends and family.
As employees, we have so much to deal with at work and also in our personal lives, and with time, both of these aspects can weigh us down, reduce our level of morale and productivity, and eventually lead us to dissatisfaction.
Various recent studies and experiments on mindfulness in the workplace have revealed that the practice can actually help employees improve their overall well-being and the workplace experience, leading to a more fulfilling life.
Here, we see how stressful the workplace can be, how mindfulness can help change that for the better, and the studies in this area and what they have found.
Employee Lifestyle And Hassles In The Workplace
Employees and workers in both the private and public sectors go through a lot of difficulties to ensure the company they are working for is constantly moving forward and upwards, and their families are well taken care of too.
Juggling these two things is not a walk in the park and it often leads to stress that can build up to bring about other negative effects.
Focusing on work, many workers experience work-related stress which takes a toll on their physical and mental health. According to the American Institute of Stress, about 63% of the workers in the United States struggle with work-related stress (1).
The stress makes about one million workers miss work each day and ends up costing businesses in the United States an estimated $300 billion in losses every year. Clearly, going by the statistics, work-related stress is an area that requires immediate attention.
Some of the main causes of work-related stress include long hours of work, repetitive tasks which lead to boredom, job insecurity, lack of enough work resources, over supervision, problems at home, problems with personal life, and bad relationships with the boss as well as other colleagues, among many others.
Poor performance due to work-related stress and other workplace-related issues spill over the bad effect on the customers the employees are serving.
If an employee is not in their best state of mind and body, they are not able to do their best work, which means the products or services the employee sells on behalf of the company won’t be up to standards and can bring about loss in the long run.
Mindfulness can help reduce work-related stress and other problems that arise at work for both employees and employers, improve the workplace culture and performance, and lead to healthier, happier, and more satisfied employees and employers, and even customers.
How Mindfulness Can Make Happy And Satisfied Employees And Employers
The practice of mindfulness which allows us to bring our attention and awareness to the present moment can help employees overcome the various problems they face at work and the stress that comes with it.
Firstly, it reduces high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions most employees experience.
Scientific studies on the effect of mindfulness on our bodies have revealed that it helps to reduce the stress hormone known as Cortisol, which helps to bring down the negative effects of stress. On top of that, it helps us be aware of our thoughts and emotions which allows us more mental space to better react emotionally and even physically (2)(3).
Secondly, it helps to improve emotional control. Employees who have to deal with customers directly, especially in the customer support department, tend to meet people with different personalities, attitudes, and emotions. Some customers may be frustrated and may be tempted to unleash all their frustrations on the employees. And the employees, being human beings, might end up reacting and things getting out of control.
Mindfulness can help in such cases as it is known to bring down high levels of aggression and promote emotional balance. When we are aware of ourselves, we are less likely to let our emotions get the best of us (4).
Thirdly, it helps to reduce feelings of fatigue and momentary negative effect. Mindfulness practice is linked to the ability to be aware of the changing thoughts and feelings which often incline us towards being dysfunctional. With the awareness, we are less affected by them and instead become more positive. Mindfulness-based practices like walking meditation can help to regulate negative momentary feelings (5).
Fourthly, it enhances the quality of our sleep. Most often, when we are stressed by our work, we remain awake throughout the night pondering how we can change the situation. Sleep becomes hard to find and we struggle the following day to remain awake and be productive. Mindfulness helps to reduce the string of endless thoughts about work that prevent us from sleeping and make it possible for us to sleep faster and for longer, and wake up feeling fresh and energetic (6).
Fifthly, it boosts our cognitive performance. Some of the cognitive abilities mindfulness improves upon include attention and focus, memory, learning abilities, self-referential processing, memory, and perspective thinking, which can really come in handy for employees. By regulating the brain wave called the Alpha Rhythm, mindfulness helps us be more focused and attentive. Also, the practice increases the density of the gray matter in the brain which accounts for the other improved cognitive functions (7)(8)(9).
The benefits of mindfulness can help employees be able to handle the various problems that they experience at work and be more able to keep going with relative ease.
On top of that, if the employers take up the practice as well, they might be compelled to be more compassionate towards their employees and create an enabling environment for them by handling the causes of the work-related stress they face so as to make them be more at peace and thrive in their positions and career as a whole, and improve the company’s performance and profits in the process. Practicing mindfulness frequently has shown the ability to increase acts of compassion and that can be useful in the workplace (10).
Large Companies Providing Mindfulness And Meditation Programs For Employees
Studies on how mindfulness is specifically influencing workers and increasing output have encouraged large corporations to add it to their work programs and get their employees to get involved.
A study that was done in Taiwan on how the practice of mindfulness affects workers with high levels of psychological stress worked with 144 participants from factories who had been found to struggle with stress.
They were divided into 2 groups where one group was taken through an 8-week mindfulness training while the other group was the control group. After the experiment, the results showed that the workers in the mindfulness group felt less fatigue, less stressed, less anxious and depressed, less pain and aches, and had fewer cases of sleep issues as well as problems with other workers (11).
Another study conducted by researchers in Canada from the University in Quebec found similar results. The researchers invited call center workers to an experiment where they received guided meditation on mindfulness that lasted 10 minutes for about 5 weeks. The results at the end of the experiment found that the simple exercise not only helped the employees become more positive, productive, calmer, and happier but also they served their clients better and the client satisfaction rate increased (12).
It is evident that meditation and mindfulness bring a lot of advantages to the workplace and benefit the 3 key players, the company, employees, and the clients the company serves. That is why companies like Google, Adobe, Target, and even Ford are incorporating mindfulness programs into their companies.
The most popular mindful program is the Search Inside Yourself program by Google which trains the employees at the form how to be more emotionally intelligent with the help of mindfulness and meditation.
Cultivating Mindfulness Independently As An Employee
Many companies in different corners of the world may not be able to provide such rewarding programs for self-improvement to their employees for varying reasons, but that should not be the reason employees don’t benefit from the practice at all.
We can all cultivate mindfulness on our own by creating mindfulness routines that are easy to work with and also beneficial. Considering the fact that we are often busy and barely have the ability to spare hours for self-improvement, we can set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day to practice mindfulness, and it can transform our lives in the long term.
We can use mindfulness and meditation apps to help us learn guided meditation and guided mindfulness from experts, and with time, we can get better at it to be practicing on our own.
Some people prefer beginning with mindfulness meditation and practicing it for 1 to 20 minutes a day depending on their schedules, to help them learn mindfulness and ground themselves in it using meditation apps like Headspace.
Others prefer working with different mindfulness-based techniques such as mindful walking, mindful eating, mindful showering, mindful working, and mindful listening and speaking to achieve the same.
Others take it a step further to use mindfulness through several mindfulness-based programs and therapies to handle specific issues in their lives.
It is entirely up to you as an individual to decide which mindfulness approach you want to take based on how you want to benefit from it. The most important thing is to research well about it, read books, watch mindfulness videos, consult mindfulness and meditation experts and take action on the information gained.
Which approach do you feel works best for you? What experiences have you had with mindfulness at work? We would love to know. Please share with us in the comments below. 🙂