Forward-thinking business leaders know that there’s more to successful business practices than just the bottom line. It’s called mindfulness.
It’s no accident that more and more businesses leaders I work with are embracing mindfulness practices and meditation as an integral part of their professional strategy. Forward-thinking executives and managers are increasingly becoming aware of the benefits, even though age-old mindfulness practices have long been a part of business (and pleasure) across the globe.
But I still have clients who are taken by surprise when I include mindfulness in our executive coaching sessions. I get that. After all, it goes against decades of corporate rules and regulations that really don’t work in today’s work environment, handed down by generations of “suits.” Like the idea of enforcing strictly defined work schedules, wearing overtime hours like a merit badge on your sleeve, or maintaining a rigid hierarchy at the office. The list goes on and on.
So why is mindfulness at work so important? And why are successful Fortune 500 companies like Target, Nike and General Mills making it a point to integrate mindfulness in their corporate cultures? Because it improves individual and team performance, as well as quality of life and the proverbial bottom line.
What is mindfulness?
While there are lots of different ways to explain mindfulness, I like the way Juliet Adams describes it. Founder of Mindfulnet.org and Director of A Head for Work, she calls it the ABC of Mindfulness:
A is for awareness – Becoming more aware of what you are thinking and doing – what’s going on in your mind and body.
B is for “just Being” with your experience – Avoiding the tendency to respond on auto-pilot and feed problems by creating your own story.
C is for seeing things and responding more wisely – By creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to, we can make wiser choices.
Benefits of practicing mindfulness in the workplace
Practicing mindfulness – through meditation, conscious breathing and visualization for example – sharpens skills and helps improve things like attention, memory, and emotional intelligence. It can help improve relationships, business performance, productivity and focus. Research has also shown that it can boost mental and physical health by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
According to the World Health Organization, stress-related maladies cost US companies at least $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished creativity, and productivity. In addition:
- 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. And 42% say their co-workers need such help – American Institute of Stress.
- Stress levels in the workplace are rising with 6 in 10 workers in major global economies experiencing increased workplace stress. With China (86%) having the highest rise in workplace stress – The Regus Group
- Stress is a top health concern for U.S. teens between 9th and 12th grade, psychologists say that if they don’t learn healthy ways to manage that stress now, it could have serious long-term health implications – American Psychological Association.
Clearly, mindfulness has a place in the workplace. And it all starts with business leaders and managers who understand the importance of such practices, and how they can improve individual and team performance.
Ready to get started?
Whether you’re a corporate executive or a business team member, mindfulness can complement your leadership style and enhance your job performance. If you want to learn more – or you’re ready to get started – let us know. We’re ready to help. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you think! Have you practiced mindfulness in your personal or professional life, and what were the results? Leave your comments below.