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Mindfulness At Work: Slow Down to Improve Productivity & Mental Health

Calm and curious leaders are often highly approachable. Ideally, mindful leaders are good listeners as they diligently listen to others and thus resolve conflicts more effectively.

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Let’s face it. The world we live in is overstimulated, fast, and hectic to a point where we sometimes question: Is all of this even worth it?

As a leader, I don’t see these as warning signs but critical moments that define us and our ability to manage the most adverse scenarios without losing our sense of self.  It’s no wonder that companies like Google, Intel, and General Mills[1] invest in mindfulness programs for leaders and employees alike. In fact, Intel [2] is all set to introduce a nine-week mindfulness program for its 100,000 employees in 63 countries around the globe.

What does it mean to be mindful in 2020?

While mindfulness can be defined in a number of ways, it is formally identified as “an awareness [that] arises through paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. The Mindful Leader Development 2019 revealed five tenets of being a mindful leader. 

  1. Mindful time management
  2. Adaptability
  3. Leadership self-awareness
  4. Self-regulation
  5. Empathy

The research also investigated the impact of mindfulness training on leader capabilities with a sample size of 13 leaders across six corporates that completed a 10-week mindfulness training program at their workplace.

In simple words, if as a leader, you are able to establish a neutral platform and trust at the workplace, encouraging employees to be honest with their views and opinions then chances are you are a mindful leader. This, in turn, makes employees happy and satisfied at the job while improving their productivity by 20% and raising business sales by 37%.[3] Case in point, a US health insurer engaged 13,000 staff members in mindfulness practices. This initiative reported a reduction in stress levels up to 28%. Besides, it estimated improvements at $3,000 per employee in annual productivity.

Why we need mindfulness at the workplace

According to research[4], over 50% of employees believe their leaders can be harmful and irrelevant to their job profile if they do not manage their stress efficiently. On the contrary, leaders adept at handling stressful work situations are viewed in a more positive light. The same study states only 7% of employees think stressed leaders can lead teams effectively and a mere 11% feel engaged at work with such leaders in the organization. 

We hear and read instances around anxiety, stress, and anger at almost every workplace.  Something as simple as email notifications, official calls and texts, or follow-ups on monthly targets can create a stressful environment that triggers negative feelings at the workplace. For senior leaders especially, managing a diverse set of concerns while trying to meet business goals becomes doubly challenging. If they lose their cool, it trickles down to employees, severely affecting productivity and organization culture.  

However, mindful leaders create an optimised workplace with their positive personality traits such as approachability. Let us understand how traits arising as a result of practising mindfulness can be beneficial for an organisation.

Approachability

Calm and curious leaders are often highly approachable. Ideally, mindful leaders are good listeners as they diligently listen to others and thus resolve conflicts more effectively.

Positive outcome: Approachable leaders make their employees feel more connected to the business. As revealed in the results of the Search Inside Yourself[5] program, participants feel more empathetic and can better understand the situations of fellow members. Results suggest that leaders become 64% approachable post-program as compared to 55% before the program.

Clear expectation settings

Successful leaders communicate effectively about business goals and accomplishments with their employees. They are well aware of operational realities and set clear expectations for the team members.

Positive outcome: Workers of all generations from traditional to millennials need clear expectations to thrive. Gallup report[6] suggests that 72% of millennials affirm that they feel more engaged if their managers establish clear performance goals for them. Moreover, employees with set expectations are 8 times more likely to be engaged than those with undefined goals.

Constantly staying in touch with the team

Mindful leaders connect regularly with their team members to make them feel comfortable and informed about the process. They communicate effectively to educate employees and to share their valuable experiences to motivate them.

Positive outcome: When employees are engaged in a conversation, they more likely improve the retention power, accuracy and precision at work. For example, Puma India witnessed a 92% improved employee response rate with constant employee engagement. 

Slowing down to boost productivity and mental health

Mindful leaders create great opportunities for greater productivity and profitability. A meta-analysis[7] shows that businesses good at engaging employees and making them feel happy and valued are 21% more profitable, 17% more productive, enjoy 10% improved customer ratings, suffer 70% lesser safety incidents and experience 41% less absenteeism as compared to business units in the bottom quartile. 

Mindfulness, when practised consistently, reaps long-term benefits in enhancing productivity, improving interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, and creating a stress-free environment. After all, a happy workforce as the numbers point out leads to a profitable workplace.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Tags assigned to this article:
Mental Health Mindfulness leadership

Tanmaya Jain

The author is Founder, inFeedo

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