The business case for mindfulness
Mindfulness is an ancient and integral part of many meditation practices. So what has this got to do with modern life and the world of business?
In essence, being mindful helps people to cope with stress with ease, work better with other people, and be more focused. This means more effective businesses.
The modern, secular form of mindfulness originated in the medical establishment in the USA in the 1970s. It was used with great success in helping patients with chronic pain and depression, where drugs and other therapies had no effect. This has become so well recognised that GPs in the UK are now prescribing mindfulness courses for depression, as the results are better.
In the business world it is now being taken very seriously, both as part of a well-being agenda (people get happier and healthier) and as a way to improve productivity. Organisations like Google, Transport for London and even Welsh Government have run programmes with great success.
Mindfulness training is proving to be an effective tool in making organisations function better, and businesses to be more productive.
One might question why it’s so effective? We boil this down to 3 main impacts:
First is stress reduction. Workplace stress is reaching epidemic proportions, with nearly 50% of time off work related to anxiety and depression.. Mindfulness helps people to stay calm, focused, and be more resilient emotionally.
The second impact is better communication. Dysfunctional teams, inappropriate management styles, and poor external communication can cripple any organisation. Mindfulness been shown to significantly increase emotional intelligence (EI), resulting in a more respectful and integrated workplace environment. EI has also been shown to be the most important indicator of management career success.
The third impact is creativity. Where teams work well together, and individuals feel more motivated and purposeful, anything is possible. Mindfulness supports innovation and clarity of thought.
- at Transport for London, a mindfulness training programme with 600 employees reduced the time taken off work for all reasons, with a 70% reduction in time taken off for anxiety and 50% reduction for any other health reason
- research by McCubbin et al in 2014 showed positive impact on physical and mental health, work productivity, and reduction in healthcare utilization [and hence less time off work], of employees in mindfulness programme, up to one year afterwards
- online mindfulness-based interventions with 66 employees in Dow Chemical Company significantly improved their ‘resilience, and physical, emotional, and cognitive vigor, and decreased their perceived stress’. A cost-benefit analysis projected possible cost savings of up to $22,580 per year per employee due to decreased employee burnout
- at IF Insurance an evaluation of a mindfulness programme found, based on participant’s self-assessment, that 88% of participants reported “a highly increased ability to stay focused” and 76% of participants reported “highly increased positive relationships within their teams”.