Bring Mindfulness To Your Work

Stress in the Workplace

Employees are under intense pressure to deliver more with less, work longer hours, and to be more innovative all the while improving profitability.  Deadlines, challenging employee relationships, mergers and information overload impacts morale, job satisfaction and productivity.

The High Cost of Stress

What's the cost of this constant push? Dedicated employees are showing signs of exhaustion. They lose their drive, their focus, their power. Their health may suffer from the stress. Over time they burnout or leave; worse, they’re present in body but not in spirit. Creativity and energy goes out the window. Stress impacts leadership across the organization and may result in the loss of competitive edge.

More than half of the workforce in the U.S. reports ‘job stress’ as a major problem in their lives, up more than 100% from similar studies conducted over a decade ago (Roger Starch 2000 Global Survey). Additionally, “health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress” (Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 1998) with stress-related disorders costing American corporations and industries approximately $9,500 per employee—over $300 billion annually (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2000.)

Stress Resilience

Stress refers to both the physiological and mental reactions a person experiences in response to a real or perceived threat or change: a looming performance review, roll out of a new product line, work with new colleagues, an upcoming promotion. Stress is less about what actually happens—individually or organizationally—than about the sense one makes of it, and the subsequent actions taken. How events are perceived and interpreted determines just how “stress resilient” or “stressed out” an individual, and ultimately the organization, becomes.

To head-off possible disruptions as workplace stressors escalate from issue to problem to crisis, and to transform this energy to enhance performance, business organizations must identify and empower leaders to minimize stressors, to think creatively, to innovate new and effective ways of operating in an increasingly complex marketplace. In short, they must increase organizational resilience.

The Mindful @ Work Program

One way to do cultivate stress resilience is for organizations to work more mindfully. Mindfulness is an intentionally focused awareness—a way of paying attention on purpose in the present moment and non-judgmentally. While this notion may seem simplistic, especially in a complex marketplace, attending to the constant activity of the mind for a few brief minutes can yield powerful and even surprising information. Operating “mindfully”—in the moment an event occurs—enhances the ability to both identify and minimize sources of stress while enhancing competencies that build resiliency.

The foundation of the Mindful @ Work program is drawn from the highly respected and empirically supported Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Additionally, this program incorporates specific practices and exercises from the mPEAK (Mindfulness, Performance Enhancement, Awareness & Knowledge) program used by elite athletes, leaders and executives. 

General Benefits of Mindfulness

Individuals regularly practicing mindfulness experience less stress, more resilience and a greater sense of clarity, balance, energy and zest for living. Research has shown that mindfulness practices:

  • Increase clarity and creative thinking
  • Enhance leadership
  • Improve complex problem-solving and decision-making
  • Enrich emotional intelligence
  • Foster enhanced self-awareness of the mind-body connection
  • Aid in mood regulation and immune system management of a wide range of physical concerns.

Employee Benefits of Mindfulness

Participants of corporate Mindfulness Programs have reported changes in attitudes, physical and mental behaviors that are directly related to positive changes in work-related performance. These include enhanced ability to:

  • Consciously respond to situations rather than simply react
  • Bring greater concentration and focus to their work
  • Monitor stress levels and take effective steps to address it
  • Reduced absenteeism and visits to health care professionals
  • Improved office morale and interpersonal relationships
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Demonstrably improved job performance and productivity

Organizational Benefits of Mindfulness

Businesses that operate mindfully increase their organizational resilience by:

  • Continually monitoring their moment-to-moment activities to assess if they’re running smoothly
  • Openly seeking new ideas for increased effectiveness
  • Anticipating problems in advance, prepping for them, learning from them
  • Responding promptly to adverse events in a flexible rather than rigid way

Large corporations are becoming aware of the benefits of mindfulness practices in their organizations. Firms such as Pacific Investment Management Co and technology leaders Apple Computer, Yahoo!, Texas Instruments, Nortel Networks, Intel, Aetna, General Mills, Dow Chemical and Google have all instituted mindfulness training and wellness opportunities on-site. Even “old economy” outfits including consulting firm McKinsey, Deutsche Bank, and Hughes Aircraft have taken the step.

Conclusion

Stress is part of life and work; stress is here to stay. However, the individual and collective capacity to effectively handle that stress, to make informed decisions, and to access previously untapped resources relies on one’s ability to be present. Literally, it is only in the present moment that any of us can stop our habituated and driven modes of activity, see ourselves, others, and situations more clearly, and choose effective solutions that impact the fabric of our lives and business practices.

Course Information

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your organization. To set up an exploratory meeting to discover the best way to decrease the stress and improve wellbeing of your employees, contact Pete Kirchmer