Mental Health Career and Workplace

Mindfulness Will Help Your People Perform Better

According to mindfulness science expert Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” The practice of mindfulness, therefore, is a deliberate attempt at harnessing this attention to achieve a flow state in order to improve efficiency and productivity. It comes as no surprise then that the practice has been gaining traction worldwide as a tool for improving professionally, regardless of industry. 

How Mindfulness Benefits Employees 

Research as far back as a decade ago found that mindfulness is positively associated with job satisfaction. A 2012 study of mindfulness in the workplace involving two different groups of employees suggested that for employees working in demanding jobs, mindfulness promotes job satisfaction and helps prevent burnout.

“Results showed that state and trait mindfulness are inversely related to employees’ emotional exhaustion and positively related to their job satisfaction,” the researchers from the 2012 study concluded. 

Closer to home, in a 2020 study involving three service companies from Eastern China, researchers found that there is a positive indirect relationship among individual mindfulness, recovery level, and work engagement. “The results also show that team mindfulness plays a moderated role in helping employees recover from work stress,” the researchers said.  

Researchers examining the effects of mindfulness on work engagement, posited that: “Mindfulness as a single construct is positively related to work engagement. The analysis from the facet level of mindfulness illustrates that … employees with refined attentional skills and [who are] accepting [of] the present moment reality were found to contribute more to work engagement.”

Their recommendations? “Organisational programs that focus on building personal resources could use the meditation-based mindfulness programs to help individuals widen attention span as well as to develop non-judgemental attitude.” 

Mindfulness in the Workplace: Does It Really Work? involved mindfulness training for 60 employees of a Midwestern digital marketing firm. After a half-day training, participants were randomly assigned to a group that did not practise mindfulness during the six-week period, or to a group that practised mindfulness every day for six weeks. 

As part of the study, researchers sent surveys measuring employee well-being to the participants’ smartphones throughout their workday for three consecutive days before and after the six week period.

“Overall, these findings suggest that while small doses of mindfulness training (such as the half-day training) may be enough to increase perceptions of job productivity, longer-term mindfulness training programs (such as the half-day training combined with daily practice for six weeks) are needed to improve work focus, job satisfaction, and a positive relationship to work,” the researchers said. 

Mindfulness Training For Managers

Research also shows that mindfulness practices also benefit managers. A 2016 study found that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) helps managers effectively manage work-related stress and makes them more psychologically resilient in the workplace. 

Middle managers who participated in the MBSR training reported decreased sickness absence and stress levels, as well as improved self-esteem and emotional well-being compared to managers from the control group.

A 2018 study of nurse managers in a North American acute care hospital involved researchers conducting a survey “to measure the impact of mindfulness workshops on nurse managers’ perception of professional quality of life, burnout, and perceived wellness.”

This quantitative study used two survey tools: the ProQOL, namely a 30-item tool referring to the past 30 days that consists of three subscales that measure compassion satisfaction, secondary traumatisation and risk for burnout. The second tool was the CBI, which has 19 items with three subscales focused on personal, work-related and client-related burnout. 

Interestingly, researchers found that the mindfulness intervention positively impacted the ProQOL and CBI scores. 

“The change in participants’ scores demonstrated that the pleasure one derives from being able to do their work well increased immediately following the intervention. The mindfulness intervention also had a positive impact on the participants’ ProQOL risk for burnout score and on the scores on the CBI for personal burnout and work-related burnout,” the researchers said in the article.

What CHROs Can Do To Cultivate Mindfulness 

Now that we know that mindfulness training and regular practice can help employees and their managers become more engaged, what can we as CHROs do to encourage mindfulness in the workplace?

At Naluri, we recommend that CHROs implement the following to ease their people into mindfulness practices:

1. Have a robust Employee Assistance Programme in place

If your organisation has yet to have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that prioritises mental health and well-being, it is time that you kick started the process. A good and robust EAP empowers employees with the tools they need to take care of their mental health and well-being. 

While it is commendable that you provide employees free access to a therapist or counsellor for those struggling with mental health issues, take it a step further and include mindfulness training as well to ensure greater employee mental well-being and consequently, improved job engagement and productivity, in the long run.

2. Check in regularly with your employees

We all get busy with the day-to-day duties. However, don’t neglect your employees in the process.

We recommend that you check in regularly with your employees to understand and help them achieve greater mental well-being. For example, you can conduct an anonymous survey of your employees to find out how they are doing mentally and on the job. A little effort goes a long way in this respect, in ensuring that your employees feel happy in your organisation. 

3. Train your managers to be more empathetic 

Not every manager comes to the job with above-average people management skills. Many are technically equipped with the knowledge to carry out their managerial responsibilities, but few are equipped with the know-how to handle employees struggling with their mental health or on-the-job challenges.

As a CHRO, encourage the leaders and managers in your organisation to attend empathy training and even better – mindfulness training – in order to help them become better managers and more caring individuals. As managers, they need to be able to have caring conversations with their subordinates, especially those who are struggling with their mental health and overall well-being. 

The buck truly starts with you. By implementing these three simple steps in your organisation to inculcate mindfulness and greater all-around self-awareness among your employees, you will help them enjoy greater satisfaction and engagement on the job. These will ultimately improve productivity and synergy throughout the organisation. 

Written by:
Sharmila Ganapathy
15 March 2022