mindfulness (n): the awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, sensations, actions, and surroundings in the present moment (International Journal of Workplace Health Management)
Mindfulness is no longer exclusive to productivity hackers in Silicon Valley – many companies are embracing the practice, hoping to train a mentally fit workforce.
However, there was little imperial evidence on whether mindfulness actually improves mental well-being, limiting its reach and usage in the corporate setting. Fortunately, a new study from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management set out to validate the efficacy of mindfulness in boosting employee wellness.
According to the eight-week study, the group that received mindfulness training “significantly increased their mindfulness skills including observing and acting with awareness [compared to the control group]. Scores on well-being, i.e. satisfaction with life, hope and anxiety also improved and were generally maintained at follow-up.” This improvement translates to better performance on the job, including “improved concentration at work and better interpersonal relationships.”
This is good news for mindfulness enthusiasts, since it validates a long-held belief: meditation and mindfulness training help employees become mentally fit. However, there is a limitation to this study. With a sample size of 23, these results are not generalizable. That being said, it does set the foundation for larger-scale research projects. Future studies can help improve understanding of how frequent sessions should be delivered or the impact the delivery medium (i.e., group, virtual, or remote training with audio guide) has on efficacy.
As mindfulness becomes more popular, employers can easily fall into the rut of allowing individuals to seek out their own mindfulness resources (similar to the way yoga joined the mainstream). Although this may seem like a prudent decision from a cost perspective, investing in employee health by providing efficacious solutions is never a bad idea. In addition to improving the ability of employees to be effective at work, companies that show a genuine interest in helping employees become better versions of themselves will stand out and win on the retention battleground.
Are you embracing mindfulness practices to improve employee well-being?