By Lesley Stewart, CA Today
As workplace stress costs the UK economy £4 billion a year, could office mindfulness be the answer to a healthy and happy workforce?
When we’re stressed with the constant demands of our inbox it’s all too easy to overlook our health and wellbeing – and that of our team.
The average workday is filled with a cycle of meetings and surprise deadlines, and there’s rarely enough time to take five and catch your breath.
But with cases of work related stress rising significantly and costing the UK economy billions, can businesses really afford not to invest in the wellbeing of their workforce?
Why are companies embracing mindfulness?
Mindful meditation is being offered at some of the world’s biggest companies to cut workplace stress and boost productivity, and Intuit QuickBooks are one of the latest companies to recognise the need for taking a “mindful minute.”
“We recognize that the workplace can cause stress and while we place a lot of emphasis on work-life balance, we know it’s hard to take a break when it’s busy,” said Hayley Penn, HR Business Partner at Intuit. “We brought in Mindful Talent to host a breathing workshop. We hoped that the workshop would give our teams tools they could employ during stressful moments to slow down their breathing and give them a bit of mental headspace.”
Reduce your stress, gain an edge
What are the benefits of mindfulness and can it really help businesses flourish? There’s almost too many benefits to list says Alister Gray, Founder of Mindful Talent. “Mindfulness enables people in both their personal and professional life to increase their awareness, reduce stress, become more creative through greater clarity of thought, improve communication skills, deepen relationships and understanding through compassion – and to gain an edge in business by being fully present and focussed.
“This approach transcends the way an organisation is run as it has a direct impact on the bottom line, employee engagement, performance and retention. Not only that, it has been proven to increase health and wellbeing, including mental health thus impacting the bottom line via a vastly reduced number of sick days.
As sick days reduce, productivity obviously increases and due to an increase in focus the employee and the business becomes more effective and efficient. It’s a win-win situation.
How to improve your focus
What’s the one change we could all make today to be more focussed and less stressed? Stop multitasking and begin to uni-tasking says Alister, who explains that focusing on one task at a time has been proven by neuroscience to improve productivity.
When we think we are multitasking and being effective, we are simply switching tasks quickly and recent studies have shown that we risk losing up to 40% in productivity. Focussed awareness on one task, without distractions, will improve your mental state as well as your effectiveness and productivity.
Another quick change says Alister is to turn off your devices whilst working on important task. “Place your devices on do not disturb and if the temptation is too much, place the device in another room.”
Mindful Talent’s Stuart Sandeman delivered the Breath Means Business workshop at Intuit and the feedback was “nothing short of incredible.” Executive Coach Stuart said: “Intuit are a pleasure to work with, they are a forward thinking organisation who are clearly invested in their employees’ health and wellbeing.”
Putting mindfulness into practice
Hosting the breathing workshop with Mindful Talent is just one of the ways Intuit are supporting the mental wellbeing of their employees, who have access to free weekly office yoga sessions and a subscription to meditation app Headspace. Hayley said: “In a recent employee survey, many of the respondents commented on the fact that Intuit really looks after them and their wellbeing and we saw an increase in our overall engagement score.”
Hayley notes that as a result employees’ feel much more comfortable talking about their mental wellbeing and sharing when they are feeling stressed. “Many of the breathing workshop attendees have been using the breathing techniques learned to help boost their energy or to keep calm in times of stress such as before giving a presentation.”
And for any readers currently feeling the pressure of their inbox – a final piece of advice from Mindful Talent: “One thing that you can apply immediately is to breathe consciously. Most of the time we breathe unconsciously, often in shallow and constricted patterns, and this has a huge impact on our health, energy and vitality.
Tapping into a resource that is always available and so powerful… we’d recommend any business to give it a go!
Take a mindful moment
To boost your productivity and focus, our experts suggest:
- Turn off your phone – it’s an unnecessary distraction.
- Stop multitasking – one job at a time.
- Breath slowly – it’ll help your energy.
This content was first published by ICAS. The original content can be viewed by clicking here.