Mindfulness doesn’t teach us to manage our stress, it teaches us to stop making it! Through a simple and scientifically proven meditation process it allows us to improve happiness, productivity and profitability by removing stress. Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success, and this is true for business as well as individuals.
New Year is traditionally the time when people make resolutions and generally these are ideas that can help them improve themselves. Getting fitter, getting thinner – they start on a wave of enthusiasm and by the end of January nearly all have returned right back to their old habits!
Some employers have tried to help their employees stick to their resolutions by promoting healthy habits in the workplace – weight loss, quitting smoking, improving fitness – and introducing programmes and incentives to help them achieve their goals. Obviously one of the aims of this was also to benefit the employer, as a healthier employee should be more productive and less likely to be absent.
One multi-national company has had such a programme in place for a number of years now, and their medical costs did reduce by approximately $400 per employee per year, a not insignificant figure. However, a study of the data showed a rise in alcohol consumption, depression and stress amongst employees despite the wellness initiatives. This rise coincided with an imposed target of lifting production by 9% per year so, although the employees were fitter, the stress placed by the pressure to increase productivity counteracted this and absentee and sickness levels rose again.
So, employee well-being is not just a matter of being fit and production increases are not just a matter of having a fit workforce to carry out the job. In fact data suggests that obesity, smoking and high alcohol consumption are not associated with lower productivity so the wellness programmes, whilst well-meaning, are not the complete answer to employee welfare and ability to perform. The data analysis highlighted that it was, in fact, stress and depression that had a major effect of productivity, both through increased absenteeism and low morale. This suggests that these are the areas to spend time addressing for a happier, healthier workforce.
Now more than ever, mindfulness and meditation is an approach being adopted by some of the world’s most successful companies, including Google, Nike and Apple. The practice teaches us to remain in the present moment and so allows employees to react to their current situation and solve problems, rather than panic and stress about what may happen in the future, leading to a functional paralysis where they do nothing because they fear doing the wrong thing – something that is clearly not at all productive!
Mindfulness is an approach that can be adopted in all industries, either as a course to teach employees meditation techniques or as an ongoing process in the workplace.
Many of the world’s top sports people have been using it for years to help them perform at their peak, and now the world’s top businesses have cottoned on and are using Mindfulness training to help staff become more productive and cope with their ever-increasing stress levels. There are clear benefits and practical applications for using meditation in a business environment.
With the recent changes in Health and Safety legislation in New Zealand it is becoming apparent that companies need to be adopting this type of training as an antidote to the significant stress levels many employees experience. With a high level of distraction, information overload, constant pressure and the need to respond to clients instantly, Mindfulness is an invaluable tool to help employees stay on top of their game while remaining productive, civil, collaborative and creative.
By learning to detach from and observe our thoughts we can greatly lessen the impact of our negative thinking and disconnect from the commentary we all hear inside our head. More importantly it helps reduce stress levels and increase feelings of happiness. Through a simple, scientifically proven process, Mindfulness helps you quieten your mind, find inner strength and become more resourceful and resilient, productive and creative.
Auckland Business Chamber is hosting a course next month by Mindfulness speaker and trainer, John Shackleton. This two-hour course will help you achieve a healthy mind in a frantic world and cover simple ways to understand Mindfulness, how it works and how you can easily make it part of your daily work routine. The course also includes three weeks of follow up techniques that ensures you get the most from your Mindfulness experience.
Personal comment from Mindfulness trainer, John Shackleton.
‘In all my years in sports psychology and with all my experience of helping people to improve thinking, I have never come across anything as powerful as Mindfulness. By developing a good mindfulness practice, anyone can transform their life and achieve the success, peace and happiness they are looking for.
For me this is not a theoretical approach. I have spent most of my adult years setting goals, in all areas of my life. It has been successful for me, but at a cost. Physically I have been pretty healthy – swimming competitively saw to that. Mentally, not so healthy – I was rarely able to switch off from my goals, and the stress of continually playing out potential scenarios of what might happen, in my mind, made me snappy and very difficult to live with. Yes, my income was good, but my family and home life weren’t and my priorities were very skewed.
This culminated in a severe bout of depression and one of my approaches to dealing with this was to begin a mindfulness meditation regime. As a result of this my approach to goals these days is mindful. I live life glancing at a compass, not focusing completely on a road map. I have direction but understand I cannot ever control everything around me.”
Are you being Mindul? Click HERE for a quick checklist.