What role can mindfulness training play in employee wellbeing?
This post is an excerpt from an article originally published in Human Resources Director magazine.
Mindfulness is a new type of literacy in the 21st century. Similar to reading and writing, this core competence in the workplace is a cognitive capacity that has functional and structural imprints on the brain.
We all have the capacity for being mindful, and to grow that capacity. The brain changes as we activate different areas of the brain when we are mindful such as the pre-frontal cortex, the area associated with executive functions such as self-control, working memory, and problem solving.
Executive functions make up a large percentage of daily work life, enabling employees to create and stay focused on tasks and a plan, inhibit inappropriate behaviour and solve problems and navigate change skillfully when it arises.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia completed a study with employees across multiple workplaces and found employees who learned mindfulness via MindWell’s online training program, the MindWell Challenge, found significant increases in measures of mindfulness, emotion regulation, engagement, resilience, workplace thriving as well as significant decrease in stress, burnout and interpersonal deviant behaviours.
Beyond the benefits to an individual, workplace mindfulness training is a practical, accessible, and cost-effective solution that can impact a business on the leadership and organizational levels as well.
Mindful leaders can regulate their emotions during times of high stress and are more capable of sharing their own vulnerability, fostering openness and support within their organizations. They are strong listeners and are able to respond with compassion to their people.
At the organizational level, mindfulness training has impacts across all levels – from the front lines to executives. Organizations adopt a new and a new way of working emerges. Leaders and HR professionals integrate mindfulness when developing organizational policies, procedures and culture.
Protocols enacted to nurture a mindful organization correlate with developing a psychologically safe and healthy workplace – for example, no emailing after work hours or starting meetings with a short mindfulness practice to ensure everyone is fully present in-person and online.
Mindfulness is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a need-to-have for workplaces that want to help their teams and leaders respond skillfully to the looming mental health crisis.
Learn more about the benefits of building a mindful organization.