Mindfulness in the Workplace?

June 20, 2016 Monday Morning Wake Up Tips

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention moment-to-moment to what’s happening within and around us without judgment. So, said differently, when we attend to the moment-to-moment flow of experience, and recognize what’s happening…fully allowing it, not adding judgment or commentary, then we are cultivating a mindful awareness.
-Tara Brach, Senior Teacher and Founder,
Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C.

Recently, there has been a lot of hub-bub about mindfulness in the workplace. So, writing about the company-changing value to organizations that practice being mindful is a mixed bag.

You can easily go online and find companies dedicated to the development and integration of mindfulness at work, and you’ll find some interesting cases against it. For instance, what happens when employees defer to “being mindful” instead of getting the job done with focused attention? Sometimes the job just needs to get done without much time for reflection.

However, we also know there is value to having a mindful approach to life, problems, and relationships. You won’t have to do much research to find these positive claims and more for the benefits of practicing mindfulness:

  • Stress reduction
  • Better decision making
  • More successful relationships
  • Improved physical and mental health
  • Increased ability to adapt to change and deal with setbacks

In an interview titled “Why We Need Mindfulness at Work,” Jason Marsh, program director and founding newsletter editor for a UC Berkeley think tank, says:

…brain imaging research shows that a half hour of mindfulness meditation a day increases the density of gray matter in parts of the brain associated with memory, stress, and empathy. Finally, mindfulness seems to increase concentration and focus. Research looking specifically at mindfulness in the workplace is relatively new. But there’s good reason to think it makes employees more satisfied and less stressed. A 2014 study of employees at the Dow Chemical Company, for instance, showed that mindfulness training increased vigor, lowered stress, and gave employees a greater sense of resiliency. Preliminary studies suggest that a program in mindfulness also can increase productivity and reduce the number of sick days. (1)

All this said – and a few weeks into healing from a concussion about which my MD said something like, “You’ll need to use your mindfulness stuff to recover,” I think I’ll lean to the mindful side of the debate and encourage everyone to consider if having a mindfulness approach would be helpful in their lives and their workplace. Let us know what you find out.

By Mary Anne Wampler,
PRINCIPAL, TRANSFORM, INC.

1. Jaret, Peter. “Why We Need Mindfulness at Work.” The Greater Good. 4 November 2015. Web.