Whatever our role at work, we all understand that people are the most important asset in every business and that the business can only perform at its best if its team is feeling happy and well. But have we ever considered what the benefits of introducing mindfulness at work might be?
The topics of wellbeing and mental health are, thankfully, now openly discussed and their importance acknowledged; brought to the fore as we all navigated our way through a global pandemic and discovered new ways of working, communicating and keeping healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally.
There is significant evidential support on the benefits to both employees and businesses of introducing mindfulness at work; helping companies improve staff retention, reduce absenteeism and raise productivity and helping employees increase confidence, improve communication and feel happier, both at home and work.
The CIPD. (2021) Health and wellbeing at work survey 2021. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. in partnership with Simplyhealth, identified ‘a number of priority actions for organisations, including the need to develop a strategic and holistic approach to people’s health, safety and wellbeing’. It refers to the importance of focusing on prevention as well as providing support and the need for visible commitment from managers. https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/culture/well-being/health-well-being-work#gref
Published by the Heath and Safety Executive, The Annual Statistics on Work-Related Stress, Anxiety or Depression in Great Britain in 2020 highlighted that 17.9 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety (2019/20 Labour Force Survey (LFS)).
‘Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence’. https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/
Regularly part of the conversation, but often not in any detail, mindfulness tends to be referred to as an activity we ‘should’ do, but rarely are the tangible benefits it offers business and their teams discussed in a useful capacity.
And it’s often confused with meditation, whereas meditation is just one of the formal techniques we use when we practice mindfulness , albeit an incredibly important one.
Mindfulness can be described as being fully present; aware of what we’re and where we are, and not reacting to or being overwhelmed by what’s happening around us or behaving in a judgmental way.
Informal mindfulness practices can be practised in everyday life and not at a set time, and can be combined with most activities, such as driving and walking, whereas formal mindfulness practices tend to have a set time where this is the sole focus, such as a sitting meditation or guided meditation.
Mindfulness introduces a more abundant, relaxed and happier way of living and has a range of benefits, both at work and home.
It is powerful, yet uncomplicated. Its simplicity lies in being present and paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judgement. It’s powerful because it can break negative thought patterns, improve wellbeing, increase resilience, raise confidence and help find new sources of calm.
Having experienced more upheaval during the last 18 months, at home and work, than we could ever have thought possible, there has never been a more important time for mindfulness to play a part in helping businesses and their employees successfully navigate change and uncertainty, introduce new working practices, increase efficiency, improve wellbeing and reduce anxiety.
Mindfulness approaches and techniques that can be easily practiced at work and home can be effortlessly introduced in the workplace or online and conveniently incorporated into a wellbeing programme or delivered as workshops. It’s ideal as part of a wellbeing approach, thanks to the ease with which it can be introduced in the workplace on a team by team or company-wide basis and the speed with which it is adopted by individuals and groups.
One of the many benefits of practicing mindfulness is a positive shift in mindset and behaviour, which become an everyday part of life at work and home, leading to healthier, happier individuals; benefitting the businesses they work in and the colleagues, friends and family they spend time with.
With the change in working situations, with many people continuing to work from home or transitioning into a hybrid form of working, it’s important to improve team working and reduce ill health and the costs associated with it. Which is where mindfulness at work can play an increasingly important role.
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