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Surviving and Thriving in the Workplace. How mindfulness brings effects.

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Patrick Kozakiewicz

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80 percent of employees report that they feel stress at work. Millions of working days are lost every year from stress-related absenteeism. Office workers are interrupted every 3 minutes during the day. Is there any solution for that problem? Mindfulness practice is a proven way to overcome all these obstacles. It is needed especially today when everyone has to face the consequences of an unprecedented pandemic related crisis.

One can say that compared to COVID-19 pandemic, digital distractions, as well as noisy office environment work, is just a well-recognized inconvenience. Nowadays workers have to get to grips with new kind of permanent stress that stems from the pandemic. The overall situation becomes more and more challenging for remote workers closed in homes. They work hard to deal with project deadlines, handle Zoom meetings, and care for children. Not to mention the overwhelming news of a collapsing economy.

As before and now the panacea for these problems are proven methods proposed by mindfulness practice. Jon Kabat-Zin, the founder of Mindfulness-based stress reduction program defines mindfulness as paying attention in
a particular way; 
on purpose, 
in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.  - Think of your attention as a muscle - persuades Zen master.

 

Download the free Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace Report  

 

Facts over stereotypes

And although for many people who keep both feet on the ground, mindfulness seems to be hazy or is just a fad, it is difficult to deny the tangible effects it brings. One may be surprised but even Peter management guru F. Drucker, argues that leaders need trained perception fully as much as analysis. Harvard Business Review magazine heralds that mindfulness should no longer be considered a nice-to-have for executives. It’s a must-have: as a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress. 

Mindfulness is a source of general well-being. This is confirmed by the participants of the courses as well as numerous scientific researches conducted for years. Mindfulness techniques lower stress and increases mental focus. Improve wellbeing, optimism, and enthusiasm. Mindfulness course participants confirm they noticed a sharpened focus, longer attention span, and better memory retention. They enhanced decision-making skills and creative problem-solving
. Mindfulness practitioners feel more resilient in dealing with pressure and changing demands
. So, in a nutshell, a more mindful workforce is more productive.

A study from the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School 
of Business suggests mindfulness can also have powerful effects on 
stressed-out leaders. - Mindfulness helps you to avoid negative or abusive behaviours while encouraging more transformational and positive behaviours, despite 
how emotionally exhausted you may feel - says Megan Walsh, 
an assistant professor at the Saskatoon school and the study’s lead author.

Benefits of mindfulness in the workplace

Many organizations worldwide have implemented mindfulness programs so far, and this number is still rising. It suffices to mention Adobe, Aetna, Bosch, General Mills, Google, IBM, Intel, Nike, SAP, Target.

As David Gelles wrote in his book Mindful at Work many of America’s largest companies built extensive programs 
to foster mindful practices among their workers. This is because — as employees and employers are discovering, 
and psychologists and cognitive scientists have confirmed
— mindfulness has tangible benefits. 

Gelles recounts Aetna, the American health insurer, which engaged 15,000 employees in regular mindfulness classes. As a result, participants noted on average, 

a 28 percent reduction in their stress levels, 
a 20 percent improvement in sleep quality, and 
a 19 percent reduction in pain. They also become more effective on the job, 
gaining an average of 62 minutes per week of productivity each, 
which Aetna estimates is worth $3,000 per employee per year. 

SAP is another company involved in mindfulness since 2013 and, as a result, noticed many benefits from this decision. Peter Bostelmann who served as 
the director of SAP’s global mindfulness practice told: It’s the new jogging. 

Employees are more healthy and more engaged 
and they can cope better with a changing world. Participants in the mindfulness program report increased well-being and higher creativity. For many managers, it has become the new normal 
to open meetings with short meditations.

SAP implemented mindfulness training classes. The course has now evolved into a 2-day seminar available in 48 of the company’s locations worldwide aimed at improving employees’ productivity, leadership skills, and well-being. 
Over 7,000 of its employees have attended the seminar that is augmented by other activities 
such as mindfulness afternoons, online sessions, and lunches. The company estimates that a 1 percentage point increase in employee engagement translates into a rise of 50 million euros 
to 60 million euros in operating profit. SAP has seen a 200 percent return on investment, with the training leading to a rise in employee engagement and a fall 
in absenteeism.

When a boss indicates the direction

Interestingly, the implementation of mindfulness in a company is often the result of their management's decision. This is the case of Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, as well as for Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce. Benioff is a strong follower of a concept called beginners mind. - A beginner’s mind is the practice of looking at the world with fresh, unencumbered eyes, and avoiding inside-out or homogenous thinking that can lead to blind spots and missed opportunities - he says. Innovation is a core value at Salesforce. 
It is deeply embedded in our culture. 
This starts in the mindset of every person in the company — you must cultivate a beginner’s mind.

According to Chade-Meng Tan, a former 
Jolly Good Fellow at Google, if you are a company leader who says employees should be encouraged to exercise, nobody looks at you funny. The same thing is happening to meditation 
and mindfulness because now that 
it's become scientific, it has been demystified. It's going to be seen as fitness for the mind.

 

Download the free Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace Report  

 

The ball is in your court

The benefits of mindfulness were also recognized by the world-class athletes. Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson 
introduced the idea to his team in 1989. Jackson as a long time Zen practitioner used mindfulness to get the most out of his players. He described mindfulness as an easily accessible technique fo quieting the restless mind and focusing the mind on whatever is happening in the present moment. He believed the practice would pull the players 
together, buffer them against tensions, and ultimately, 
win them championships. 



As Jackson brought meditation into the locker room - writes David Gelles in Mindful at Work he helped some elite players develop greater self-awareness. Michael Jordan, NBA legend was initially skeptical, but when he went on to win six 
NBA titles, that uncertainty evaporated. Finally, Jordan took to practice mindfulness with particular zeal and developed a greater awareness of his role as a leader. When Jackson 
brought the same methods to the Los Angeles Lakers, 
they won five championships.

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Topics: Mindful Leader