Mindfulness and the workplace may sound like strange bedfellows but they make a good combination.
Organizations like Google, Mayo Clinic and the United States Marine Corps use mindfulness training to improve workplace functioning.
Bringing a culture of mindfulness into corporate culture helps focus and stress management. It also affects how employees work together.
“Historically, companies have been reticent to offer mindfulness training because it was seen as something fluffy, esoteric and spiritual,” says Christopher Lyddy, an organizational behavior doctoral candidate at Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead School of Management. “But that’s changing.”
The research at Weatherhead brought together management and mindfulness experts along with psychologist and neuroscientists.
They looked at 4,000 scientific papers on various aspects of mindfulness and its impact on how people think, feel, act, relate and perform at work.
Their findings showed:
- Mindfulness appears to positively impact human functioning overall with a wealth of evidence that mindfulness improves attention, cognition, emotions, behavior and physiology.
- Specifically, mindfulness has been shown to improve three qualities of attention — stability, control and efficiency. Individuals who completed mindfulness training were shown to remain vigilant longer on both visual and listening tasks.
- Although mindfulness is an individual quality, initial evidence suggests that it affects interpersonal behavior and workgroup relationships.
- Mindfulness may improve relationships through greater empathy and compassion — suggesting mindfulness training could enhance workplace processes that rely on effective leadership and teamwork.
Lyddy says the research indicates significant and diverse benefits of mindfulness coinciding with growing practical interest in mindfulness training nationally and worldwide.
The British Parliament has recently launched a mindfulness initiative called “Mindful Nation UK” using mindfulness to benefit diverse sectors and improve national health, productivity and flourishing.
The Weatherhead study is published in the Journal of Management.