In a recent blog “How to deliver a 20% productivity increase from 76% of the workforce!”. I stated that engaged employees are more productive, they have less absence, stay longer and have a positive attitude towards the organisation.  I went on to say they act as advocates, spreading the word that it is a good place to work in, and do business with.  I also said they gave “discretionary effort”, which can’t be forced or demanded, it can only be given willingly.
So what are the links between Mindfulness and Competitive Advantage?

In this guest blog, Mandy Church, an Occupational Psychologist and mindfulness expert, explains how mindfulness can increase employee well-being and effectiveness.  These are two key factors in developing an engaged workforce.

Mindfulness is being aware of, and living in, the present moment – appreciating ‘NOW’ for all it has to offer; all the sounds, smells, sights, tastes and sensations in the body that we are experiencing in this very moment. Quite simple you might say, but we humans have a tendency to live in our heads, ruminating over past mistakes, anticipating future problems, so much so, that much of our lives are lived on automatic pilot. Now whilst this may often be very useful (for example, allowing us to change gear in the car without having to consciously think about the required actions), it can become a problem when we are constantly in the past or the future. In truth, the only moment we have available to us is this one; we can’t change the past or predict the future. Regularly ‘dropping’ into the body can become a powerful tool to enable us to live more fulfilled lives.

Mindful meditation is all about allowing yourself space regularly throughout the day to check in with your body and mind, to see what is going on for you in this moment. With regular practice, this can become second nature; you will find yourself doing it without having to sit in a chair and close your eyes – you will do it without thinking (which is exactly the point!). It might be as simple as noticing shimmering raindrops on a spider’s web, being fully aware of the feeling of a warm mug of coffee as your hands caress it, or really hearing the birds singing when you are defrosting your windscreen. It’s all to do with feeling and sensing the present as it unfolds. This simple awareness can be extraordinarily grounding and liberating.

For me, mindfulness is a common ground between my two roles, that as an occupational psychologist, and as a yoga teacher. I was introduced to mindfulness through my yoga training, but immediately saw the value of this in my other line of work.

When people think of yoga, they may imagine people sitting crossed legged, eyes closes, silently meditating; and to some extent they would be correct; but when people think of the workplace, a group of employees sitting on chairs in a circle, quietly meditating is probably not the first thing that springs to mind – but more and more companies are realising the benefits of giving their staff the opportunity to do just that; Apple and Google being among these.

So, what is the justification for providing your staff with the opportunity to learn to become more mindful in their everyday lives? Well, there is growing evidence that the mindful individual is more self aware and accepting of their feelings and as such they have the capacity to manage negative emotion; thus your people will become more effective communicators and less affected when they encounter conflict. Blood pressure is reduced and memory improved, and mindfulness notably reduces stress, depression and anxiety.

Perhaps then, rather than asking yourself if you can justify allocating some of your over-stretched budget to training your staff to become more mindful, you might ask if you can afford not to.

This article was written by Mandy Church, a Yoga Teacher ,and the principle at Effortless Breath.  Mandy is also an Occupational Psychologist, and an Associate at People Based Solutions, an HR consultancy, specialising in conflict resolution, team working and Leadership Development.  If you want to know more about how mindfulness training can help unlock the potential of your workforce, contact us at:
People Based HR